Views on nature-based solutions to build climate resilience and sustainable development

The high level event “Working with nature to build climate resilience and sustainable development” was both inspiring and informative. The panelists – a variety of representatives from countries worldwide – discussed different aspects of the use of nature-based solutions.

The president of the Republic of Palau discussed how his country only has a small contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions but it is forced to deal with the negative effects of climate change: namely an increase in tsunamis, storm surges and rising sea levels. One way it is dealing with these effects is through the creation of ‘no take’ zones, which are protected coastal areas where fishing and diving is prohibited. The creation of no take zones has resulted in a resurgence of fish populations, as well coral reef growth. Sustaining fish populations is essential for the livelihood of local people, while coral reef acts as an important coastal defense.

Moreover, the FAO director-general Mr. José Graziano Da Silva highlighed the need to conserve, restore, and sustainably manage ecosystems in order to promote climate resilience. He discussed the importance of creating solutions to reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural sector, specifically livestock. Livestock is a large contributor to greenhouse gases, while simultaneously requiring vast amounts of inputs such as fertilizer, water and energy. Innovative methods to increase the ecoefficiency of the livestock sector can help to improve the environment, while increasing profitability. Amongst other things, he mentioned the importance of utilizing agroforestry and crop rotation systems.

Mrs. Lina Pohl, the minister of Environment of El Salvador talked about how her country aims to work with nature by evaluating what it’s worth. A nation-wide valuation was performed for different types of (agro)-ecosystems, in order to determine their net present value. The aim was to gain insight into the benefits of nature restoration and conservation in the midst of a changing climate. She underscored how her country understands that creating resilience in the face of climate change requires us to invest in nature. For one thing, the analysis revealed the large benefits of investing in silvopastoral systems. This is due to the fact that silvopastoral systems enable carbon storage and produce stable yields.

Dr. Bregje van Wesenbeeck from Deltares also emphasized the importance of creating a broad understanding of nature’s value. She delved into the fact that biodiversity and ecosystem services have an enormous value, but that decision makers tend to disregard it. This is due to the fact that environmental knowledge is not integrated sufficiently into other disciplines such as engineering or policymaking. According to her, it is important to bridge the gap between environmental specialists and other professionals. This can help to drive the effective, large-scale implementation of nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

To conclude, the panel made clear that it is important to determine the value of ecosystem services, and to integrate ecological knowledge in other disciplines. This can guide decisionmakers to work with nature to stimulate climate resilience and sustainable development.

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Sofia Caycedo is originally from the Netherlands, but she is currently studying Environmental Management at Yale University with a focus on environmental economics & policy. She is very interested in the economic questions related to sustainable development and climate change. She feels strongly about the fact that forests play a crucial role in the path towards climate resilience. Sofia excited to be representing IFSA at COP23!

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