Published: 10 Jan 2021

Whether it’s food and water security, climate change, human health, disaster risk or economic development, nature can help us.

What are Nature-Based Solutions ?

Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) have been defined, in 2016, by the members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC-2016-Res-069) as:

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.

The IUCN engages in NBS in order to use the tools that nature already provides to address issues resulting from poor land or resource use, climate change or societal challenges. Solutions often enhance existing natural or man-made infrastructure and spur long-term economic, social and environmental benefits. In addition, the IUCN developed various projects to solve challenges such as water security, which is critical for sustainable economic development, poverty reduction and climate change.

Although NBS are a powerful ally to address a wide variety of societal and environmental challenges, it has received particular interest in the context of climate change. Within the Paris Agreement, countries have engaged themselves in the creation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), aiming to embody their efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. NBS can be part of these actions as it provides various solutions to mitigate climate change’s effects. According to the report “Strengthening nature-based solutions in national climate commitments”, NBS could provide around 30% of the cost-effective mitigation that is needed by 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2°C.

The Nature-Based Solutions Agenda

Sep. 2020

The UN Summit on Biodiversity in New York, provided an opportunity to demonstrate ambition to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development, and thereby give momentum to the development and eventual adoption of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 15).

Jan. 2021

The One Planet Summit on Biodiversity, hosted by Switzerland. Various important commitments demonstrating high ambition for nature and people were taken at the Summit.

Spring 2021

The Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15 CBD) in Kunming, China, will review the achievement and delivery of the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. It is also anticipated that the final decision on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be taken. The date will be confirmed.

June 2021

The G7 Summit in Corwall, UK, on 11-13 June 2021, will focus on how to create a greener, and more prosperous future after the pandemic. Ministers could build on the statement adopted at the 2019 Summit on the role of NBS to achieve the SDGs and deliver multiple benefits.

Sep. 2021

The IUCN World Conservation Congress, Marseille, France, is where the world will come together to set priorities and drive conservation and sustainable development action. A dedicated NBS pavilion will host a series of events, workshops, launches and discussion groups.

Oct. 2021

The G20 2021 Rome Summit, on 30-31 October 2021, will be an opportunity to advance NBS in climate change governance, and to build on the commitment made at the 2019 Osaka Summit to "look into" NBS and ecosystem and community based approaches.

Nov. 2021

At the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26 UNFCCC) in Glasgow, the UK government has already pledged more funding to stem accelerating biodiversity loss that will also contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.


The Fifteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 15) in the final quarter of 2021 aims to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.

Feb. 2022

The second part of the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.1) in Nairobi, Kenya, will mobilize member states and stakeholders into sharing and implementing successful approaches and nature-based solutions that contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.


The UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, comes at a critical time as the world is strengthening efforts to mobilize, create and drive solutions to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Conference will propel science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.


The Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction in New York, USA, will be the last of the four sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference. In 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030

On 1 March 2019, led by El Salvador and joined by other countries, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

The Decade aims to massively scale up restoration efforts to bring new life into degraded ecosystems. Indeed, degraded ecosystem, for example agricultural areas or wetlands, once restored with NBS, can permit to achieve local and national priorities such as food and water security or climate change mitigation, ultimately contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Decade, to be officially launched at World Environment Day, on 5 June 2021, runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future, with contribution of numerous actors, including IUCN.

Nature-Based Solutions Standard

The IUCN has developed a standard to facilitate the design, verification and scaling up of nature-based solutions, called the Global Standard for Nature-Based Solutions. This standard aims to fill the gaps in expertise to ensure NBS projects are effectively design and implemented and do not result in unintended negative consequences. The use and promote of this standard is a core element of IUCN and its members, following a World Conservation Congress resolution adopted in 2020.

Partner Organizations

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The IUCN promotes NBS tools and advances nature as a solution in its different projects, for example, for water infrastructure development and for the protection of communities from disasters and impacts of climate change. Moreover, the IUCN has set the global standard for NBS.

Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR)

PEDRR is the global thematic platform of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). It seeks to promote and scale-up implementation of Nature-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction, and ensure it is mainstreamed in development planning at global, national and local level.

United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme)

The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally led REDD+ processes and involvement of all stakeholders, promoting NBS for climate change through the conservation, the sustainable management and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP shares inputs of initiatives and best practices from around the world, received following the global call for contributions to the NBS workstream at the Climate Action Summit.

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

IISD launched a new global initiative with the MAVA Foundation, the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. It aims to establish the business case for investing in nature and make it easier for investors and government officials to assign a value to nature-based solutions.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF works globally on promoting nature-based solutions and prioritizing actions that could have climate benefits. WWF provides practical guidance for countries to include nature-based solutions in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and develops science-based guidance for synergistic interventions, among other things.

MAVA Foundation

The MAVA Foundation supports nature conservation. It promotes Nature-based Solutions indirectly by underlining the value of ecosystems and biodiversity. For example, it highlights that conserving seagrass beds in West Africa, contributes to water quality, store carbon, produce oxygen, and help regulate climate and protect the coastline.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

The WBCSD is actively involved in Natural Climate Solutions (NCS), raising awareness and being part of Natural Climate Solutions Alliance and Nature4Climate. Nature4Climate is the world’s first coordinated effort to address the totality of NCS across forests, farms, grasslands and wetlands, by promoting increase policy action and investment.

World Economic Forum (WEF)

The World Economic Forum, in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), have launched the Natural Climate Solutions Alliance. It aims to scale up affordable natural climate mitigation solutions by bringing together public and private stakeholders to identify opportunities and barriers to investment into carbon credits to increase financing for natural climate solutions.

Outreach Events

Nature-based Solutions for Recovery

3 March 2021 | 8.00 – 9.00 & 14.00-15.00 CET | IUCN

Nature+ Accelerator Fund: A new market strategy for nature-based solutions

4 November 2020 | IUCN, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Mirova, Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC)

#Youth4ClimateLive Series | Episode 4: Driving Nature-based Solutions

25 September 2020 | Italian Ministry for the Environment, Connect4Climate, Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

GENeva Environment Dialogues | The Nature-based Solutions Agenda

4 June 2020 | Geneva Environment Network