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Are Nature-Based Solutions Being Used Equitably?

Nature-based solutions (NBS) have the potential to help with grand challenges like climate change and food security. However, communities outside of Europe are unlikely to benefit from these innovations. According to new research from the University of Surrey, more than 60% of NBS are located in Europe, with other regions making poor use of the technologies.

Are Nature-Based Solutions Being Used Equitably?

Image Credit: University of Surrey

According to the findings, 33% of NBS were green solutions. Urban green spaces, like parks, green roofs, and green walls, can provide cooling and shade, absorb rainfall, and improve air quality.

A sizeable portion of NBS (31%) were hybrid solutions. Green roofs with solar panels integrated or systems to collect and use rainwater are some examples of these.

The good news is that we found a wealth of evidence of more communities successfully adopting nature-based solutions to not only deal with climate change and hazards but societal issues such as water and food security. What is very concerning is that we found a lack of evidence of authorities or organizations investing in nature-based solutions for vulnerable communities outside of Europe.

Prashant Kumar, Study Corresponding Author, Professor and Director, Global Centre for Clean Air Research

Over 500 NBS case studies from around the world were examined by the GCARE team’s implementation analysis. They discovered that more than 88% of them were backed by national policies, ensuring the NBS’s financial viability.

To address water-based hazards like floods and landslides, NBS was most frequently used. This constituted 45% of all case studies.

With about 30% of the case studies, meteorological/climatological hazards like heatwaves and droughts were the second most frequent category of hazard covered by NBS. About 24% of the case studies were concerned with environmental dangers like air pollution and soil erosion. With only about 1% of the case studies, fire hazards were the least frequent hazard addressed by NBS.

We believe that as much as 68% of the case studies we analyzed addressed UN Sustainability goals for life on land, climate action, and clean water. Imagine the impact these innovations could have if they were implemented in our most vulnerable communities. This is why we believe that knowledge transfer must be near the top of the agenda so we can all benefit from the transformational benefit of nature-based solutions.

Prashant Kumar, Study Corresponding Author, Professor and Director, Global Centre for Clean Air Research

The research was funded by the EU project, OPERANDUM (Grant Agreement No: 776848).

Journal Reference:

Debele, S.E., et al. 2023. Nature-based solutions can help reduce the impact of natural hazards: A global analysis of NBS case studies. Science of the Total Environment.


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