There are currently no multilateral definitions of nature-based solutions. However, for the purpose of this project, they can be broadly defined as actions intended to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems in order to address societal challenges (such as climate change). Such solutions provide multiple benefits and can promote human well-being, tackle climate change and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem health, thus serving both environmental and societal needs. Nature-based solutions can be designed to address major societal challenges including biodiversity loss, climate change, disaster risk and social and economic development.

Likewise, ecosystem-based approaches (EbA) to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction can be understood as holistic approaches that use biodiversity and ecosystem functions to manage the risks of climate-related impacts and disasters. They differ slightly from nature-based solutions as they emphasise community and local solutions. Benefits of effectively restored and protected ecosystems range from storing carbon, controlling floods, stabilising shorelines to providing clean air and water, food and fuel.

Broadly speaking the project concentrates on four general and non-mutually exclusive categories of actions that may be considered within the NbS and EbA aspects of the project:

  •   creating new ecosystems
  •   improving management of working lands
  •   restoring degraded landscapes
  •   protecting ecosystems

There is growing evidence that wherever well-designed nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches are carefully implemented, they can deliver multiple benefits for a community or society at a relatively low cost. Importantly, they also allow for the creation of synergies (as opposed to trade-offs) in achieving climate and environmental goals.

In this context, the project seeks to build upon the recognition that ecosystems—if sustainably maintained, protected and restored—can support mitigation and adaptation outcomes by reducing the negative impacts of anticipated climate effects. Ecosystems become crucial to enhancing the good life of people, communities and societies; they aid both adaptation and mitigation while supporting a virtuous interaction in the long term.