Story | 01 Dec, 2020

IUCN launches the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in Asia

On 26 November 2020, IUCN Asia Regional Office hosted the Asia Launch of the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions (NbS), building on the global launch, held in July. Over 215 participants joined the online event, including representatives from Indigenous groups, governments, inter-governmental organisations, United Nations bodies, the private sector, civil society organisations, and other entities.

Nature-based Solutions or NbS are “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.”  

As the world turns towards green recovery in a post-COVID context, there is a need to ensure that nature reaches its potential in contributing towards a just transition to a sustainable future.

With this in mind, and appreciating that the misuse and misunderstanding of the approach could even harm nature, a global framework is required to mainstream Nature-based Solutions while protecting people and the planet. After a two-year consultation, IUCN has developed a Global Standard for NbS that will enable both the public and private sectors to design, implement and monitor NbS and accelerate society’s transition to a low carbon future. It is the first-ever tool that will help design robust, durable actions for deriving benefits for people and nature.

Dr. Radhika Murti, Director of IUCN Global Ecosystem Management Programme provided an introduction to NbS, explaining that the new IUCN Global Standard will help stakeholders ensure the effectiveness of Nature-based Solutions and maximise their potential to help address climate change, water and food security, biodiversity loss and other societal challenges on a global scale.

“The Global Standard is structured around eight criteria, ranging from biodiversity benefits and addressing societal challenges to criteria focused on governance, financial sustainability, and policy integration,”  explained Dr. Daisy Hessenberger, Programme Officer, IUCN Global Ecosystem Management Programme.

A diverse group of panellists from the region provided their perspectives on the applicability of the NbS Standard.

Dr. Luo Ming, Director, Key Laboratory of Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation in the Ministry of Natural Resources highlighted the example of China and its national ideology as an eco-civilisation. She also provided examples of how the government has already integrated the Standard into national documents.

“One of the root causes of conflict is the continuation of a colonial model of conservation. I believe that Criteria 5 on Inclusive Governance in the NbS Standard will help to address these issues and support a shift towards respecting the fundamental rights of human beings, especially Indigenous Peoples,” said, Dr. Pasang Dolma Sherpa highlighting the importance of the Standard in supporting the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. Shahid Rashid Awan, Additional Secretary, Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Department, Government of Punjab, Pakistan, shared, “the Standard’s eight criteria and 28 indicators will strengthen the planning process, and help governments understand if proposed interventions are economically viable or not. The standard and indicators will support the future planning of the Forestry sector, especially in addressing biodiversity and climate change issues in Pakistan.”

“At ITC we have always been aware of our water use and carbon offsets; however, we now understand that biodiversity gain is a valuable goal and measurement against which to evaluate business practices. By designing templates and demonstrating how NbS will pay back off, whether, through ecosystem services or other avenues, we can encourage more companies to join our mission,” said, Mr. Vijay Vardhan, Operations Manager, Social Investments Programme, Indian Tobacco Company, explaining opportunities to promote the NbS Standard amongst the private sector, and unlock funding.

Dr. Benjamin Brown, Research Associate, Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, presented a mangrove restoration project in East Kalimantan Indonesia. The project promotes the use of Nypa palms as a source of sugar sap, providing alternative livelihoods for communities at various scales and in exchange, the previously used aquaculture ponds are replanted with mangroves.

“We need to continue this discussion. At IUCN, we will mainstream the NbS Standard throughout our programme in Asia, ensuring that it is fully integrated into our projects. We will also work closely with our members to develop regional and national NbS hubs. China has already approached IUCN to discuss this opportunity, and we hope that others follow their lead,” said Aban Marker-Kabraji, Regional Director, Asia, and Director, Regional Hub for Asia-Oceania.

The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions launched in Asia explained further NbS in the regional context, serving as a call for action to apply the NbS Standard throughout the continent.