04 Jun 2020

Lieu: Live | Webex Event & Facebook

Organisation: Geneva Environment Network

Before the pandemic, 2020 has been referred to as a “super year for nature” — a unique opportunity to bring nature into development, or biodiversity and climate solutions in a coherent way and at unprecedented scale. Whether it’s food security, climate change, water security, human health, disaster risk or economic development, nature can help us find a way, and this is what nature-based solutions are about. Nature-based solutions have a key role for recovery strategies.

About the GENeva Environment Dialogues

The GENeva Environment Dialogues’ special COVID-19 series discusses the impacts of the pandemic on the global environmental agenda. Experts are concerned that the world is losing critical time to turn around alarming trends in biodiversity loss, climate change, sound management of chemicals and other environmental threats.

The series addresses the following topics:

  • The impact of the crisis on the invited organization activities
  • The response of the invited organization to the COVID-19 crisis
  • The impacts on the preparations of the conferences and negotiations they are hosting
  • New schedules and programmes for these conferences and negotiations


Facilitators: GEN Team


Head, UN-REDD Programme Secretariat


Deputy Head, EU Delegation to the UN


International indigenous activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples


Executive Director of Business for Nature


Director, Nature-Based Solutions Group, IUCN



Moderation: Diana Rizzolio, Coordinator, Geneva Environment Network

The COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis that affects everyone, and that has an important economic impact on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself.

There is a large response from the UN system and from other actors to this crisis, including on the global environmental agenda, as we have heard in all the sessions we have convened.

The Secretary General of the United Nations refers to the COVID-19 pandemic as “an unprecedented wake-up call”. The pandemic is resulting in major economic and political shifts around the globe which are giving the international community a unique window of opportunity in which recovery plans can be instrumental in creating a more sustainable and resilient future. The pandemic has also shown how human health is intimately connected to the natural world. As we recover, we must build back better for people and for the planet.

The Secretary General keeps also reminding us that we have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

This week we are celebrating World Environment Day on Friday, which is tomorrow, and we have been live every morning to discuss a topic related to biodiversity. Tuesday 2 June, we presented the Act For Nature Forum, initially scheduled to take place physically in Oslo, and now going virtual, starting this Sunday. Wednesday 3 June we discussed the emergency of infectious diseases and healthy ecosystems with leading experts that insisted on the importance of restauring ecosystems stability to prevent such diseases.

At this session we are discussing, the Nature-based Solutions agenda, with some of the fathers and mothers or sons and daughter of this concept.

Before the pandemic, 2020 has been referred to as a “super year for nature” — a unique opportunity to bring nature into development, or biodiversity and climate solutions in a coherent way and at unprecedented scale. This referring to some key negotiations scheduled to take place this year.

Whether it’s food security, climate change, water security, human health, disaster risk or economic development, nature can help us find a way, and this is what nature-based solutions are about. Nature-based solutions have a key role for recovery strategies.

The Nature-based Solutions Agenda

Mario Boccucci, Head, UN REDD Programme Secretariat

  • Most important time to speak about nature-based solutions
  • Nature is a fundamental solution to multiple planetary crises
    • Climate, biodiversity, development, social and economic recovery
  • Nature delivers multiple benefits
    • Jobs, livelihood, address poverty, key element of climate change mitigation and adaptation, help preventing the emergence of new diseases
  • Nature-based solutions are ready to be scaled up – nature can be on our side to fight
  • Context:
  • Arrived into nature-based solutions from a climate angle – worked on the preparation for the Secretary-General Climate Action Summit in 2019
  • Nature-based solutions were one of the six priorities of the summit
  • Nature is fundamental component for our climate change fight – one third contribution in reduction of emissions
  • No longer an either … or … situation – you need nature-based solutions and transition away from fossil fuels
  • Coming out of a decade of negotiations and discussions that created the platform for nature
  • Now we are getting into a decade of implementation and scaling up of nature-based solutions
  • Recognition of nature as key component of our response to several crises
  • Framing:
  • “Nature-based solutions are actions to restore, protect and manage natural or modified ecosystems” (IUCN definition of nature-based solutions)
    • Important that actions are delivered at unprecedented scale and speed
      • Restoring coral reefs and degraded land
      • Stopping deforestation
    • 4 ways to make this happen:
      • Create a compelling narrative, able to speak to decision-makers and all the agents of change and based on data, on the benefits of nature-based solutions
      • Global ambitions need to be at the right level – opportunity of the NDCs and of the UN CBD post-2020 framework
      • Mobilize pathways of action to shift the system (food, infrastructure, finance, cities, …) towards nature
      • Scale up popular mobilization for nature
    • The next 18 months will be essential to work together and activate the key leadership moments that we have (UN CBD COP15, UNFCCC COP26, UNEA-5)
    • UNEA-5 has a thematic focus on strengthening actions on nature for sustainable development

H.E. Carl Hallergard, Deputy Head, EU delegation to the UN in Geneva

  • EU focusing on implementation – turning concepts into operational tools
  • The lockdown has not stopped the work in Brussels
  • EU Green “New Deal” includes parts on climate law, circular economy action plan, strategy from farm to fork
  • Launched a new EU biodiversity strategy, part of the implementation of the EU Green “New Deal” – ambitious action plan, with new ambitious targets:
    • 30% of land and sea as protected areas
    • Restore land and sea ecosystems
    • Unlock 20 billion € per year for biodiversity, through various sources
    • Support for developing countries
  • Position the EU as the leading player in the global fight for biodiversity
  • EU recovery plan – new strategy to come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient
    • Prevent future pandemics
    • Create jobs and sustainable economic growth
    • Build back better out of this crisis
    • Essential to invest in nature protection and restoration
  • Short-term response addresses health, social, economic, geopolitical challenges linked to the pandemic
  • Climate change, biodiversity loss, excessive use of resources and pollution are existential global emergencies – EU is determined to uphold the strategic objectives set out for the environment
  • Eu recovery package, proposed by the EU Commission – 750 billion €, of which 500 billion € in grants and 250 billion € in loans – aimed at achieving a green digital and resilient future
  • Full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement is crucial – blueprint for a better recovery
  • Economic recovery and the transition to an economy that is sustainable, socially just, climate neutral, resource efficient and circular should go hand-in-hand
  • Making nature healthy again is an ally in our fight against climate change and disease outbreaks – at the heart of the recovery programme and of the growth strategy
  • It is time for nature and the solutions can be found in nature
  • Nature protection is also a health issue, as replacing high-biodiversity ecosystems with intensive and low-biodiversity food systems has created the breeding ground for zoonotic disease
  • Climate case for nature: for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Achieving climate neutrality will transform economies profoundly and protect biodiversity
  • This investment in nature will help the EU Green “New Deal” become a job-creating engine and redefine green growth
  • EU’s decoupling experience shows that growth and emissions’ reduction are not mutually exclusive: in the 1990-2019 period, we cut emissions by 23% whilst growing by 60%
  • Clear cut business case that speaks for nature protection:
    • Half of the world GDP is linked to nature
    • In the EU, a quarter of jobs in tourism are linked to protected areas
  • As the EU biodiversity strategy says, there is an urgent moral, economic and environmental imperative to protect, restore and sustainably use nature

Vicky Tauli, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and indigenous peoples

  • Encouraged by the words of the EU ambassador
  • Good that nature-based solutions are part of the priority agenda
  • Indigenous communities look at nature as the solution to environmental, economic problems
  • Indigenous peoples have always asserted that abusing or misusing nature diminishes the chances we have of leaving behind an even better world to live in for future generations
  • Indigenous peoples consider it important to leave the Earth in good shape for future generations
  • Taking care of nature embedded not only in actions, but also in values
  • This pandemic shows that if we abuse nature and are not in harmony with it, this is what we are going to end up with
  • Need to work together on a common framework, promoted by UNEP and the other conventions
  • Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of the fight for nature-based solutions and against climate change
  • Must ensure that indigenous peoples are included in the formulation of nature-based solutions – they have wisdom in ecosystem management and restoration
  • See humans, not as dominators, but as partners of nature
  • Enormous challenges are facing us, especially considering that the economic approach exploit nature – situation of rethinking and shifting away from dominant paradigm
  • Think collectively what needs to be done – involve the private sector in nature-based solutions
  • Private sectors and investors play an important role in shaping our future
  • Indigenous peoples are most affected from the pandemic because of either authoritarian regimes’ solutions to a public health issue, or because of discrimination in healthcare
  • Many indigenous peoples are using their traditional systems to address the pandemic, many of which are nature-based
  • The way that we deal with this issue should put human rights in the centre
  • Indigenous peoples’ rights should be respected: right to participate in the decision-making processes and the right benefit from the solutions

Eva Zabey, Executive Director, Business for Nature

  • Time for Nature – time for businesses to step up for nature
  • Business momentum is high
  • Business for Nature is a global coalition of influential business organization and conservation organizations that aims at unifying the business voice to give policy makers the courage to make ambitious agreements on reversing nature loss by 2030
  • Nearly 50 partners, very diverse
  • Companies are making commitments and taking action for nature – but it is not enough – we need policy ambition that in turn will create more business action
  • Launched 5 high-level policy recommendations:
    • Adopt targets to reverse nature loss
    • Integrate policies for nature, people and climate – the challenges we face are interconnected, so should be the solutions
    • Value and embed nature in decision-making and disclosure – go beyond GDP and profits, and value nature, not necessarily in monetary terms
    • Reform subsidies
    • Empower everyone to act
  • There was tremendous momentum building around business, then COVID-19 happened
  • It is in Business for Nature mandate not to wait for the political decisions
  • It is Time for Nature – we will have a major online discussion on 15 June 2020
  • Nature is everyone’s business
  • The EU is demonstrating that ambition level we need

Stewart Maginnis, Global Director, Nature-based Solutions Group, IUCN

  • Not an opportunity we can squander
  • Decades of work in the field – importance now of scaling up
  • No more piloting, we need to do more mainstreaming now
  • Focus on the opportunities
  • IUCN global standard on nature-based solutions, that will be launched in July 2020
  • Nature is our ally in building back better
  • Need to be clear on what nature-based solutions are and are not:
    • IUCN definition of nature-based solutions: “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”
    • Not to be confused with nature-derived solutions nor with nature-inspired solutions
  • Nature-based solutions could provide a reduction of a third of the greenhouse gases – goes hand-in-hand with other measures
  • Nature-based solutions are much more than climate change:
    • Mangroves help reduce flooding
    • Nature-based solutions create jobs
    • Human health and socio-economic development
  • Challenges:
    • Policy coherence
      • Other policies cannot be undermining the effort made with nature-based solutions
    • Synergies
      • Nature-based solutions need to be integrated with other solutions (engineering, financial, …)
    • Scale
  • We are ready to scale up nature-based solutions:
    • Nature-based solutions are a cost-effective complement to established mechanisms
    • Nature-based solutions give multiple benefits across multiple sectors
    • Enable cross-sectoral coherence
    • Must embed nature-based solutions in policy frameworks
  • Nature-based solutions will be delivered by cooperation with a whole range of stakeholders
  • IUCN came up with a global standard to facilitate nature-based solutions
    • Based on knowledge co-creation
    • Crowd-sourced through open consultations
    • Developed to be compatible with the ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice
    • Overview of the criteria:
      • Societal challenges
      • Design at scale
      • Biodiversity net-gain
      • Economic viability
      • Inclusive governance
      • Balance trade-offs
      • Adaptive management
      • Sustainability
    • Next steps for nature-based solutions:
      • Resourcing at scale – nature-based solutions systematically featured in all GCF submissions
      • UNFCCC COP26 priority
      • Establishment a governance structure
      • Establishment of regional and national hubs
      • Enhancement of knowledge sharing
    • Now it’s the time to mainstream nature-based solutions


Terrence Hay Edie, UNDP GEF

Question to Carl: can the EU interpret the 30% “protected area” target to include multiple governance types of conserving nature beyond governments such as bottom community initiatives for conserved areas such as the local commons?

Hanna Plonykova, UNECE

NbS can be efficiently applied on the level of the ecosystems, for example, transboundary basins which often are shared by different countries. How do you see the role of transboundary cooperation in developing and implementing nature-based solutions?

Does the EU biodiversity strategy also foresee transboundary and regional cooperation in ecosystem restoration?

Burnice Karmi

How do we ensure resilience of landscapes using nature-based solutions?

How do we ensure sustainable financing of nature-based solutions so as to achieve biodiversity conservation by year 2030?

Francesca Mingrone

To what extent are the rights and participation of indigenous people and local communities being integrated in the governance responses and policy incentives that are being shaped this year?

Zeeshan Shah, Children Nature Network Asia

How do we ensure governments commit to Climate Budget that ensures Nature-based solutions to reduce climate hazards in low income countries?

Mary Lisa Madell

The United Kingdom has commissioned an independent review – the Dasgupta Review – of the economics of biodiversity, designed to set out a unified framework for thinking about the economics of biodiversity in the context of global goals for sustainable development. In doing so, the Review will reconstruct our economic ‘grammar’, and rebuild our understanding of economics as a discipline and way of thinking.  An interim report is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/882222/The_Economics_of_Biodiversity_The_Dasgupta_Review_Interim_Report.pdf

Md. Monjurul Hasan

What is the relationship between involvement with local community and nature-based solutions?


H.E. Amb. Carl Hallergard

  • The EU biodiversity strategy is still a work in progress
  • Looking forward for the UN Summit on Biodiversity to develop things out more
  • Transboundary cooperation is essential for the EU
  • Budgetary resources for developing countries is part of our strategy – always trying to help them respond as we do

Mario Boccucci

  • Questions are a signal that what we have said is reciprocated
  • Step from pilots to an era of delivery and implementation: landscape approach fundamental, transboundary cooperation as well
  • Importance of integration, of bringing things together
  • Importance of shifting finance
  • Ready and mature to get together in an unprecedented era of implementation
  • Essential to keep players connected

Eva Zabey

  • In terms of financing side – ESG had better than average returns
  • Demonstration that transition is well underway
  • Indigenous communities need to be embedded and empowered

Stewart Maginnis

  • Transboundary collaboration is critical – ecosystems do not know national boundaries
  • River basin management commissions are good examples, as well as IUCN’s “Mangroves for the Future” in Asia
  • We need a coherent policy framework
  • Basis to build on is present
  • Landscape resilience is the reason why IUCN started developing the global standard – we need durable nature-based solutions
  • Practice is underway to see the reallocation of domestic public financing towards nature-based solutions

Vicky Tauli

  • Ensure that government will include indigenous peoples
  • A group of indigenous peoples is taking part in biodiversity processes and in climate change processes

Answers collected after the event

  • The commitment proposed in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 is for 30% of land and seas covered by Protected Areas (PAs) and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs). PAs have been well defined since a long time and IUCN has, e.g., developed definitions for various types of PAs.  OECMs have been defined at the 14th Conference of the Parties under the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD COP 2014) in 2018 (https://www.cbd.int/doc/decisions/cop-14/cop-14-dec-08-en.pdf). Both PAs and OECMs can be managed by non-governmental organisations, and community initiatives such as the local commons may constitute PAs or OECMs when they meet the respective definition.

Closing remarks

H.E. Amb. Carl Hallergard

  • Not a question of whether, but of how and when
  • Trying to continue with the lead and push at the global level
  • Show the science behind it
  • Take this forward and looking forward for the UN Biodiversity Summit in September and for the UN CBD COP15

Eva Zabey

  • Nature is everyone’s business

Stewart Maginnis

  • Time for mainstreaming is now
  • There is real commitment
  • Particularly those who are not from the nature conservation sector – connect with us to identify where opportunities exist
  • Time for upscaling nature-based solutions

Mario Boccucci

  • Remarkable that everyone, from different backgrounds and representing different interests, said the same thing – everyone pushing in the same direction
  • Massive amount of know-how on challenges and opportunities
  • Era of implementation of nature-based solutions



The event will be live on Facebook.