Nature based Solutions or Nature based Excuses?
Nature based Solutions are undoubtedly gaining a fast trend and focus in policy spaces as an efficient tool to aid address the highly emerging climate and ecological crises; whilst contributing significantly to the socio-economic livelihood ad wellbeing of local communities in most parts of the World. Whereas governments, NGOs and various stakeholders within the nature and climate spaces are raising the banner high for the inclusion and implementation of Nature based Solutions in both policy spaces and on the ground implementation respectively, there is a growing and increasing concern regarding the use and implementation of the concept by indigenous communities and several environmental actors.
Nature based Solutions or excuses? According to a report published by the IUCN, the increasing and increased use of the Nature based solutions concept has led and is leading to cases and scenarios of misuse of the concept-excuses. The lack of a universally agreed upon definition of Nature based Solutions additionally poses a threat and risk to the misuse of the term by various stakeholders aligned to their individual agenda and interests; most significantly private sector and business actors.
Consequently, there is a concern of delayed decarbonization thus, greenwashing and ‘business as usual’ approaches- Nature based excuses. Additionally, the need for a green recovery in the post-COVID World clings onto a much greater forthcoming risk of greenwashing by private sector actors and businesses; with false impressive claims of running environmentally ventures. The planetary emergency draws no rule of exemption to the fact that both the climate and ecological crises go hand in hand.
The IUCN global standard and guidelines launched in July 2020 comprises criteria and their associated indicators aimed to address, monitor the pillars of sustainable development; biodiversity, economics and society as well as create streamlines and safeguards regarding Nature based Solutions in both practice and policy spaces. These are in direct response to the gaps identified in the 2019 IUCN report.
The Nature based Solutions concept is also set to take a fast pace during the UN decade of ecosystem restoration. Crucial to the implementation of nature-based Solutions are acknowledgement of indigenous knowledge and land rights backed by science-based knowledge. So as to ensure the success of Nature based Solutions, a whole of society approach is required through both policy and on the ground, implementation spheres, taking into account safeguards against misuse- excuses.