UN Climate Change News, 18 October 2022 – Experts meeting in Cairns, Australia last month highlighted the crucial role of nature-based solutions in tackling climate change and called for vastly increased funding for such approaches.
Nature-based solutions are actions to protect natural ecosystems that benefit people whilst contributing to tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity. For example, protecting or planting mangroves in coastal areas reduces the impact of storms on human lives, absorbs carbon and at the same time provides a habitat for fish, birds and other plants.
Addressing the Forum on Finance for Nature-Based Solutions organized by the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee of Finance, UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad said: “We face a double crisis of climate change and nature. The two are inextricably linked. The mutual, intertwined destruction grows worse by the day. If nature and climate change are linked, it only stands to reason that nature-based solutions lie at the heart of addressing both.”
Many nations have already included nature-based solutions as part of their national climate action plans – known as Nationally Determined Contributions – and made them part of their National Adaptation Plans. However, developing countries and local communities require ramped up financial and technical support for such activities.
“Only about 133 billion dollars are channeled into nature-based solutions, and investments must triple by 2030 to meet the climate, the nature and land-neutrality targets,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Sarmad appealed to move climate and nature to the front of national and international agendas and at the heart of all finance decisions – public and private. And he called on governments to heed the voices of local communities, smallholders, indigenous peoples, women and youth.
An example of an effective project using nature-based solutions is Australia’s Jaragun Ecoservices initiative which protects a river catchment area close to Cairns. The Russell River area has been damaged by agricultural development that risks washing nutrients and sediment into the sensitive and globally important ecosystem of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The delegates meeting in Cairns saw first-hand how indigenous rangers are currently working to restore the catchment area, consisting of mangroves and floodplains.
Gudju Gudju, an Indigenous Elder, noted the long-standing heritage of tribal ways of land and nature management emphasized the role of nature and native species and the devastating consequences of their loss.
“While we are here, we have to not just think about our little plot of land but also think about all the other countries that would be affected by climate change if no action is taken,” he said.
Delegates discussed the overall role of innovative financial instruments in attracting private finance and scaling public finance. An example mentioned is Indonesia’s Green Sukuk green bond, which directs 100% of the proceeds towards financing or refinancing green projects addressing climate change. Multilateral Development Banks and Funds can also contribute by de-risking investments and providing concessional finance towards nature-based solutions.
Experts agreed that collective action on nature-based solutions can be catalyzed through government action that mainstreams such approaches into national planning. However, much boils down to finance.
Frances Debra Brown-Reupena of Samoa’s Environment Ministry said: “Nature-based solutions are very much embedded in our national development strategy and have been identified as a key priority by the government. The main thing for us right now is accessing the finance to implement our development strategy and the many plans we have.”
About the Forum on Finance for Nature-Based Solutions
Climate finance stakeholders from governments, climate funds, financial institutions, civil society, think tanks and the private sector participated in Part II of the Forum on Finance for Nature-Based Solutions at Cairns, Australia between 26-28 September 2022, organized by the Standing Committee of Finance (SCF). Building on Part I of the Forum held in 2021, Part II focused on catalyzing action, and improving mobilization of and access to climate finance for nature-based solutions. More information about the forum can be found here.