Enhancing Nature-Based Solutions

About This Opportunity

The inclusion of nature-based solutions within NDCs 3.0 presents an opportunity for countries to integrate strategies that conserve, protect, and regenerate the natural environment to bolster climate action. Since the Paris Agreement’s inception, there has been a deepening understanding of nature’s role in the mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its potential impacts. Research shows that there is no viable route to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees without urgently protecting, restoring, and sustainably using nature. COP15 saw the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which set out ambitious pathways to reach a global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. Under the framework, Parties committed to setting national targets and to implement these targets to achieve the global vision. More recently, COP27 reiterated this sentiment, highlighting “the urgent need to address, in a comprehensive and synergetic manner, the interlinked global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss”, given that climate change is increasingly driving biodiversity loss, while healthy ecosystems and ecosystem services are essential for resilience and adaptation to the effects of current and future climate change. 

Additionally, ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions are among the thematic targets set under the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience  to achieve the Global Goal of Adaptation (Paragraph 9(d): “Reducing climate impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, and accelerating the use of ecosystem-based adaptation and nature-based solutions, including through their management, enhancement, restoration and conservation and the protection of terrestrial, inland water, mountain, marine and coastal ecosystems”.) This Opportunity can therefore serve to align country planning with national progress towards the GGA.

Reflecting the Global Stocktake

The GST specifically identifies nature-based solutions as key areas to address:

On adaptation:

  • Paragraph 55: “Encourages the implementation of integrated, multi-sectoral solutions, such as land-use management, sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches, and protecting, conserving, and restoring nature and ecosystems, including forests, mountains, and other terrestrial and marine and coastal ecosystems…”
  • Paragraph 56: “Notes that ecosystem-based approaches, including ocean-based adaptation and resilience measures…can reduce a range of climate change risks and provide multiple co-benefits”

On mitigation:

  • Paragraph 33: “Further emphasises the importance of conserving, protecting and restoring nature and ecosystems towards achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goal, including through enhanced efforts towards halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation by 2030, and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by conserving biodiversity, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards, in line with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework”
  • Paragraph 34: “Notes the need for enhanced support and investment…for efforts towards halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation by 2030 in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in accordance with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, including through … incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries…”

The following strategies could help to implement this Opportunity:

Developing and implementing a process for identification of potential NbS in NDCs 3.0:

Countries could consider designing or following a process or framework to ensure a rigorous identification and assessment of opportunities to identify and implement NbS in NDCs. For example, UNDP’s Pathway for Increasing Nature-Based Solutions in NDCs may provide a useful framework. The following steps are included:

  1. Establishing an understanding of the national GHG profile to estimate existing emissions associated with NbS.
  2. Identifying and reviewing existing nature-based actions in national legal and institutional frameworks.
  3. Mapping the relationships between instruments for action and potential sources of finance available for implementation.
  4. Identifying and reviewing nature-based actions in the previous NDC to identify how much already relies on NbS, the existing mitigation and adaptation potential, and if there are areas/opportunities for strengthening and enhancing over time.
  5. Developing a rapid analysis for estimating the climate change mitigation and adaptation potential of the existing nature-based actions with the intent of quantifying various pathways, considering the action’s impact, estimated cost, and risks or challenges associated with implementation.
  6. Comparing potential nature-based solutions pathways with existing measurable nature-based actions and identifying opportunities for enhancing NDCs using spatial data.
  7. Integrating nature-based actions based on strong evidence into the NDC. This includes scientific evidence, Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, local knowledge, and good practices. Actions can also be developed through engagement with research bodies, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities as co-developed indicators are more realistic, comprehensive, and attainable.
  8. Improving or creating the enabling conditions to support integration of NBS into the NDCs, through:
    1. Elevating political support and strengthening political will for NDC implementation
    2. Enhancing financial and international cooperation to support NbS actions in NDCs
    3. Reducing risks for potential investors
    4. Consolidate inter-sectoral coordination
    5. Ensuring NDC governance structures incorporate NbS goals
    6. Strengthening stakeholder engagement
Considering the applicability of recommendations for enhancing NDCs 3.0 through Nature-Based solutions:

In implementing the process for identification of potential NbScountries may want to consider the following additional recommendations from the WWF’s Enhancing NDCs Through Nature-Based Solutions: 8 Simple Recommendations for Integrating Nature into NDCs:

  1. Including the use of nature for both climate change mitigation and adaptation and prioritizing actions that provide benefits for both. See “Opportunity: Amplifying the Mitigation-Adaptation Nexus” for more strategies on mitigation-adaptation co-benefits.
  2. Setting ambitious, measurable, and time-bound numeric targets. These could include, for example, hectares of ecosystems utilized, CO2 sequestered, and/or the number of people benefiting from increased resilience. Note that it is important to consider the selection of targets and indicators, to ensure that their measurement and tracking are realistic and achievable in the context of local data and capacity. See “Opportunity: Exploring Sector-Specific Opportunities,” and “Opportunity: Disaggregating Targets Across Sectors and Government Levels” for further discussions around sectoral targets. Also see “Opportunity: Aligning NDC and Transparency Processes” for further guidance around indicators.
  3. Maximizing benefits to biodiversity, by seeking to utilize natural ecosystems over “artificial” or “modified” ecosystems. Where possible, Parties may also communicate climate benefits derived from protected areas.
  4. Exploring all ecosystem types that can provide climate benefits. This may include forest land, wetlands, cropland, grassland, settlements, other land, and coastal ecosystems (including mangroves, coral reefs, etc.).
  5. Acknowledging and managing climate risks that threaten the long-term viability of Nature-Based Solutions.
  6. Integrating commitments to other international conventions and relevant national policies. This is particularly relevant to those that result in climate adaptation and mitigation benefits and specifically, alignment with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, as requested by the GST.
  7. Ensuring selected solutions adhere to social and environmental safeguards.
  8. Including community participation and consultation. This is particularly important in the development and management of nature-based climate solutions. In particular, acknowledging the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and local knowledge systems in environmental protection and stewardship.
  9. Including the need for technical and financial support to achieve results. See “Route: Unlocks Finance” for specific strategies on addressing financial needs through NDCs and “Route: Technology and Capacity-Building as Needs and Enablers” on technology and capacity-building.

Country Examples

Costa Rica has demonstrated a strong commitment to mainstreaming and integrating NbS into its NDC in a variety of ways. Key NbS measures identified within the NDC relate to forest conversation and restoration, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, wetlands and coastal management, and the Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program. (Source: “Costa Rica First NDC Updated Submission,” UNFCCC).

Bolivia’s NDC is heavily focused on NbS. Many measures included in the NDC contain quantifiable components that allow for tracking the success of implementation. Examples include eliminating illegal deforestation by 2020 and increasing the net forest area by over 54 million hectares by 2030, compared to the 52.5 million hectares recorded in 2010. (Source: “Pathway for Increasing Nature Based Solutions in NDCs,” UNDP).

Further Resources

Toolkit for Mainstreaming Nature-Based Solutions into NDCs (UNDP, 2019)
The toolkit collates 114 tools which potentially contribute to at least one, if not more, of the seven steps identified in the guide. The toolkit identifies which step in the pathway each tool supports and acts as a repository for descriptions of and links to each tool.

Promoting Synergies Between Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity (GIZ, 2022)
This technical brief presents a framework highlighting common elements in adaptation and biodiversity planning processes. It provides case studies that illustrate key lessons and best practices, which could be applied in the development of NAPs, and NBSAPs, and could inform NDC communication on nature-based solutions.

Synergies between Adaptation, Biodiversity, and Mitigation: How Ecosystem-Based Adaptation can build bridges between Nationally Determined Contributions and the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GIZ, 2022)
The study discusses the role of ecosystem-based adaptation in building bridges and applies the framework to three case studies (Pakistan, Jordan, and Costa Rica), identifying synergies between ecosystem-based approaches, water, agriculture, and urban sectors.

SCALA (FAO, 2024)
The Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through NDCs and NAPs (SCALA) program supports countries to enhance climate action in land use and agriculture, together with partners. Using countries’ NDCs and/or National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) as entry points, SCALA identifies pathways for implementing climate actions with the potential to trigger transformative systems change.

Breaking Silos: Enhancing synergies across NDCs and NBSAPs (WWF, 2023)
Although the report is targeted at national biodiversity strategies, there are useful recommendations on national planning integration. These include ensuring that national policy planning processes are integrated in the development of sectoral strategies, prioritizing and pooling financial resources for policy measures that contribute to mitigation and adaptation, and increasing representation and resources of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to contribute to planning processes and to act on climate action.

NBSAP Accelerator Partnership
The partnership supports the development and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. The country-led initiative seeks to 1) enhance NBSAP preparation, implementation, and review, 2) strengthen technical and institutional capacity, 3) facilitate biodiversity finance and innovative solutions, 4) align financial flows for biodiversity mainstreaming, 5) foster peer-to-peer learning and international collaboration, and 6) elevate NBSAPs in national development planning. Participants in the partnership can benefit from access to technical and financial resources to elevate NBSAP ambition.

Ocean-Based Climate Solutions in Nationally Determined Contributions (Ocean Conservancy, 2021)
A brief that identifies and describes the inclusion of ocean-based climate solutions in NDCs. The brief analyses 40 NDC submissions and finds 37 include ocean elements. Many solutions identified are nature-based, providing a repository of case studies to be used as references for parties aiming to raise ambition on NbS. Solutions include: protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems; advancing marine protected areas (MPAs); protecting coastal communities and infrastructure; protecting coral reefs and other ecosystems; creating climate-ready fisheries; advancing ocean-climate justice; and creating a blue economy.

Blue Nature-Based Solutions in Nationally Determined Contributions (GIZ, 2020)
The document provides examples that identify hands-on implementation ideas and models to support countries in putting their climate mitigation and adaptation pledges into place with regard to nature- and ocean-based solutions.

Guidelines for Blue Carbon and Nationally Determined Contributions (Updated) (Blue Carbon Initiative, 2023)
This resource has been updated from the 2020 publication, incorporating additional case studies and recommendations from the 2020 NDC update cycle. The document recommends a tiered approach for various motivations and starting points, including coastal blue carbon ecosystems in NDCs.

IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions self-assessment tool (IUCN)
The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions self-assessment is an online tool that consists of eight criteria and associated indicators, which address the pillars of sustainable development (biodiversity, economy, and society) and resilient project management.

NbS Management Hub (IUCN)
The NbS Management Hub helps drive efforts to scale up Nature-based Solutions and supports the uptake of the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions, its mainstreaming in national policies and strategic plans as well as in financial decision-making.

Voluntary guidelines for the design and effective implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and supplementary information (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2019)
These guidelines provide a flexible framework for planning and implementing ecosystem-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction initiatives under the umbrella of nature-based solutions.

Why working with nature pays off: The case for investing in Ecosystem-based Adaptation (GIZ, 2022)
This series of papers compiles arguments, facts, and examples of the evidence of the effectiveness of EbA in the form of short, easy-to-read briefs. Looking first at why EbA pays off in general, then at EbA in the water sector, in agriculture, and in cities, it showcases why EbA offers cost-efficient solutions for adaption to climate change while also providing additional benefits for people and nature.

Synergies between biodiversity- and climate-relevant policy frameworks and their implementation – a series of thematic papers to translate synergies into policy and implementation (GIZ, 2022)
The paper series’ overall objective is to enhance the understanding and policy uptake of such synergies, including through nature-based solutions, their enabling conditions, and the support mechanisms required for joint implementation and mainstreaming of biodiversity and climate change policies at the national and local levels.

How This Links to Other Routes

Nature-based solutions can generate benefits across climate and Sustainable Development Goals. When developing these solutions and selecting those for communication in the NDC, countries may consider ways that they can use NbS to strengthen their overall NDC or use other processes to strengthen NbS. Navigate to these to read more:

Route: Aligned to the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal

Nature- and ecosystem-based solutions can generate significant benefits for carbon sequestration and storage. This directly contributes to the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal and mitigation priorities.

Route: Technically Sound and Transparent Documents

Identification and enhancement of NbS should be rooted in scientific evidence. To ensure the credibility and legitimacy of NbS, they should be linked to robust methodologies in both the adaptation planning cycle and mitigation planning approaches (e.g., IPCC).

Route: Unlocks Finance

Step 7 in the UNDP’s guide highlights a number of strategies to improve the enabling conditions to support NbS, including strategies to enhance financial cooperation and enable investment. The principles outlined in the Unlocking Finance Route may complement these strategies.

Route: Mobilizes All-Of-Government and All-Of-Society

It is encouraged that NbS actions, indicators, and targets are developed through engagement with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Implementation of nature-based solutions can generate benefits across society, with participation from a wide range of stakeholders.

Support Opportunities

Support is available to countries to apply the learning from the navigator and develop ambitious NDCs 3.0.

Share Additional Resources

Contribute new guidance, tools and strategies to be reflected in the NDC 3.0.