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Can 'nature-based solutions' be more than a buzzword?

Source(s):  Devex

By Michael Igoe 


[Nature-based solutions], which describes a wide range of efforts to protect and restore ecosystems that can store carbon, mitigate climate-change impacts, and protect biodiversity, is scattered throughout the COP25 schedule. From the main plenary hall to side events on topics ranging from mangroves to entrepreneurship to cities, nature-based solutions have stood out as one of the more optimistic-sounding components of a negotiation process that is struggling to match the urgency of the climate crisis.


While few dispute that preserving and investing in natural systems must be a key component of the battle against climate change, the sudden popularity of this broad agenda has raised some questions about what makes it so appealing at a time when global carbon emissions continue to rise and climate predictions grow more dire.


Some experts and activists warn that without clearer definitions and principles to guide these efforts, the term “nature-based solutions” could be used to justify projects that harm local communities or deflect attention away from the need to pursue rapid reductions in carbon emissions.


Another persistent concern is that fossil fuel companies and high-emitting countries appear interested in using these kinds of pledges to avoid confronting a more difficult reality — that limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius requires steep reductions in fossil fuels. Instead, financial institutions have poured an estimated $1.9 trillion into the fossil fuel sector since the Paris Agreement was negotiated in December 2015.


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  • Publication date 13 Dec 2019

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