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Research translation, policy advice and advocacy for nature-based solutions to climate change

The Nature-based Solutions Initiative is a programme of interdisciplinary research, policy advice and advocacy aimed at increasing nature-based approaches to climate change impacts.
Ben K George
Animation explaining the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change, created by Dr Cécile Girardin.

Nature is our great ally in fighting the causes and consequences of climate change

Climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty are inextricably linked. Not only do communities from the poorest nations suffer the worst effects of climate change, they also experience the highest rates of loss and damage to their natural ecosystems. However, nature is our best line of defence against harmful environment change. In particular, it is becoming increasingly clear that the protection and restoration of nature can be the most cost-effective way of dealing with both the causes and consequences of climate change.

For example, one recent study indicates we could achieve a 30-40% reduction in CO2 emissions by restoring natural habitats across the globe [1]; while another shows how natural coastal habitats have protected millions of dollars’ worth of property during recent hurricanes in America [2]. In other words, there is growing evidence that nature-based solutions can helping slow warming, shield us from the impacts of change, and protect the ecosystems on which our health, wealth and wellbeing so fundamentally depends.

Despite this, nature-based solutions are not being implemented across the globe, and they receive very little funding. There are three major reasons for this. First, evidence for the benefits of nature in a changing world is very scattered. Second, there is a lack of knowledge exchange between scientists, policy makers and practitioners: too much ecosystem science is done in isolation from the end-users, and too many adaptation policy decisions are made without considering the science. And third, more broadly, there is a general lack of appreciation in business and government of our fundamental dependency on nature, especially in a warming world.

NBSI aims and approach

To address these issues, partners from the conservation and development sectors have co-created a new interdisciplinary programme of research, research translation, policy advice and advocacy called the Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NBSI). The Initiative was launched in June 2018, at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town. The launch also included a beautiful animation explaining the value of nature in a warming world, created by Dr Cécile Girardin from the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University.

Current work in the Nature-based Solutions Initiative focuses on collating scientific information on Nature-based Solutions for climate change adaptation and making this more accessible to decision makers. The Initiative also assesses the role of Nature-based Solutions in climate change policy, with a focus on the adaptation plans of all signatories of the Paris Agreement. The goal is to facilitate the process by which climate pledges are revised and to scale up the role of Nature-based Solutions.

Global Policy

These objectives are being met through the release and continued development of a new interactive online science to policy platform – the Nature-based Solutions Policy Platform – which makes information about climate change adaptation ambitions across the globe and countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions openly available and easy to explore. The platform includes country by country details of who is doing what in terms of incorporating nature-based solutions into their adaptation plans and is linked to an extensive database of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of nature-based approaches. This initial version showcases adaptation plans in the climate pledges of all signatories of the Paris Agreement, and highlights the prominence of Nature-based Solutions in addressing climate change impacts and hazards.

The overal aim of the platform is to facilitate the global “stock take” of the Paris Agreement and the revision of climate pledges, with the long term goal of increasing ambition for science based targets for Nature-based Solutions.

Scientific Evidence

In parallel and complementary to the development of this platform, the NBSI are consolidating and reviewing scientific studies of the role nature in helping people adapt to the hazardous effects of climate change (e.g. climatic variability, sea level rise, extreme events). The NBSI searchable bibliography brings together papers on the economic, social, and environmental effectiveness of Nature-based Solutions, but also includes studies of the carbon capture potential of natural systems, policy papers and articles highlighting research gaps and future applications of Nature-based Solutions.

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Find out more here.

The author and NBSI core team members

Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Zoology and a Senior Fellow of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University. She is also Senior Associate at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Nathalie is co-creating this new programme with a range of partners from the conservation and development sectors, in particular IIED, International Centre for Climate Change and Development and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The work is being funded by through a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship to Nathalie with additional support from the Oxford Martin School and IIED.

Other core team members:

Alex Chausson (Zoology, Oxford), Cécile Girardin and Pam Berry (Geography, Oxford)


  1. Griscom BW et al. 2017. Natural Climate Solutions. PNAS 114 (44) 11645-11650.
  2. Siddharth Narayan et al. 2017. The Value of Coastal Wetlands for Flood Damage Reduction in the Northeastern USA, Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-09269-z).

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