Nature-based Solutions for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

IUCN takes a holistic approach to tackling these challenges – understanding that human, social and economic well-being depend on the health of natural ecosystems, and that conservation, development and social justice must go hand-in-hand.


We believe nature can play a strong role in tackling the challenges. Nature’s solutions are at our fingertips, they are cost-effective and we know how to implement them. IUCN promotes nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, secure water, food and energy supplies, reduce poverty and drive economic growth.

© IUCNPhoto: © IUCN

Although countries across Asia region differ widely, the confluence of poverty and inequality, dependence on natural resources, rapidly growing populations, and governance challenges make the region particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels and saline intrusion threaten Asian islands and nations, river deltas and coastal areas, and increased temperatures are leading to glacier lake outburst resulting in floods and landslides in the Himalayas, and coral bleaching in the region’s reefs. Droughts and floods in the river basins are increasing erosion, affecting water supplies, and impacting fisheries and agricultural productivity, and megacities are exposed to increasing flood risk and effects of urban heat.

Further, unsustainable development compounds the impacts of climate change and megacities are increasingly exposed to flood risk and the effects of urban heat. The impacts of climate change are directly leading to loss of life and negatively affecting food and water supplies and livelihoods as well as biodiversity. Climate impacts are also predicted to lead to increased numbers of climate refugees in the region and globally. 

Nature-based Solutions can help address these concerns through the multiple services provided by ecosystems in term of adaptation (water management, adaptation to disaster risks, support to livelihoods resilience) and mitigation (carbon storage). In 2016, IUCN Members adopted a definition of Nature-based Solutions as, “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.” IUCN then launched the Global Standard for NbS in July 2020, which consists of eight criteria and their associated indicators, which address the pillars of sustainable development (biodiversity, economy and society) and resilient project management. 

Strategic Objectives and Priority Intervention Areas

Objective 1 and priority interventions - Responses to climate change and its impacts are informed by scientific ‘assessment and knowledge to avoid adverse outcomes for nature and people

IUCN Asia will focus on strengthening the understanding of climate threats and vulnerability on ecosystems and related ecosystem services to provide clear scientific evidence of existing climate threats and the potential for ecosystems to address the issues. It will support the development of ecosystem services assessments and or valuation for key ecosystems in the region. It will also focus on climate vulnerability assessments on key ecosystems and species, with a focus on key sub-regions, large ecosystems of global importance. To do so, it will build on several methodologies developed through regional projects (e.g. the Vulnerability Assessment Tool on wetlands developed through Mekong WET).

These scientific assessments will then be turned into knowledge products and trainings to enhance the regional understanding of climate threats in the region. They will serve as the basis for the development of large landscape level projects on adaptation (see objective 2).

Objective 2 and priority interventions - Countries use Nature-based Solutions to scale up effective adaptation and mitigation to the impacts of climate change

IUCN Asia will support governments and other members and partners in accessing funding for the design and implementation of climate NbS projects (e.g. GCF, GEF, BMU-IKI). These projects would look at a multi-thematic approach (e.g. source to sea) and, when possible transboundary projects to reinforce cooperation on climate action. They will make use of IUCN existing knowledge products and methodologies (e.g. NbS Global standard, ROAM methodology).

Objective 3 and priority intervention – Regional partnership for NbS for climate change is enhanced and supports policy integration of NbS for adaptation and mitigation

IUCN Asia will build on existing relationships and partnerships with relevant organisations (e.g. the UNEP led APAN, ADPC, ICIMOD) to provide capacity building to regional governments and CSOs on NbS and on IUCN existing tools (e.g. NbS Global standard, ROAM). In partnership with the IUCN Academy, IUCN Asia will explore opportunities to conduct trainings for key partners in the region, following the successful model of the recently conducted training on NbS for AFD.

IUCN will support policy analyses and reviews of planning frameworks of relevance to natural resources conservation and biodiversity to identify and promote entry points for the integration of NbS within those, with a focus on NAPs and NDCs.