Promoting Nature-based Solutions to Increase Climate Resilience in South Asia’s Water Sector

Project title: Promoting Nature-based Solutions to increase climate resilience in South Asia’s water sector

Location: South Asia

Duration: October 2022 - September 2023

image Figure 1: NbS simultaneously support human well-being needs and biodiversity benefits through actions of protection, restoration and sustainable management. The detinition serves as a basis tor issue-specific and intrastructure-specific approaches to be leveraged as solutions.

Project Background:

In South Asia, government policies recognize the role of NbS in supporting climate adaptation and mitigation targets. In Nepal, policies on watershed management and climate change include Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) as an important strategy. India’s National Mission for Green India aims to restore forests and enhance tree cover over 10 million hectares. The government of Pakistan has initiated the Trillion Tree Tsunami programme, to reverse the loss and degradation of forests in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, the government has promoted area-based conservation strategies for the protection of fish breeding sites to increase the resilience of local livelihoods. 

Water-related NbS in South Asia are often locally led by communities, indigenous people groups, CSOs or local governments. There are challenges to upscaling these practices. The recent outlook on Nature-based Resilience in Asia-Pacific highlighted a lack of capacity and significant gaps in research and knowledge as two of the main obstacles to implementing Nature-based Solutions at scale.

At the local and national scales, governments must support research and knowledge sharing, further developing local technical capacity to implement NbS and promoting the use of existing tools to perform ecosystem services valuation at scale. The results must be integrated within national targets, plans and policies, and the benefits of NbS approaches should be captured and shared with other countries in the region.

Studies suggest that NbS currently remains underutilized, due to a lack of awareness of the full range of potential benefits of NbS among investors and the private sector. There is a need to develop frameworks and tools for monetizing the full scope of co-benefits provided by NbS projects. There is also a pressing need to develop sustainable financing mechanisms at the national level, to reduce dependence on outside donors and to better involve the private sector in financing NbS.

Considering these gaps and challenges, NbS provides an untapped opportunity to build the resilience of the water sector in South Asia.  A structured approach to NbS capacity building and analysis of the challenges and opportunities for scaling-up NbS in the region is needed. Comprehensive regional guidance should be developed to reduce vulnerability to climate risks such as floods and droughts through the application and upscaling of NbS in water resources management, at both local and river basin scales. 

Objectives of the project: 

The project, Promoting Nature-based Solutions to Increase Climate Resilience in South Asia’s Water Sector, will be implemented by IUCN Asia, in partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and the Indian Environment Law Organization (IELO), Delhi.

The proposed project aims to enhance long-term resilience of the key economic sectors and reduce climate induced disaster risks through capacity building and development of a scoping study on gaps and opportunities for NbS in the water sector followed by the development of regional guidance on the application of Nature-based Solutions in the water sector in South Asia.

The outcomes of the project will support the mainstreaming of NbS across a number of sectors in South Asia, by creating enabling environment for the inclusion of more specific, measurable and robust NbS targets in the countries’ NDCs, national policies and implementation plans.

The project activities will be implemented in three concurrent work packages:

  • Work Package 1: National government capacity building on NbS tools and approaches;

Outcome: Enhanced institutional capacity for the application and upscaling of NbS in the water sector to strengthen long-term climate resilience in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. 

  • Work Package 2: Policy analysis and documentation of existing NbS in the water sector;    

Outcome: Improved understanding of opportunities and barriers to mainstreaming NbS in the water sector in South Asia. 

  • Work Package 3: Regional guidance for upscaling NbS in the water sector to strengthen long-term resilience to climate change

Outcome: Regional guidance creates an enabling environment for upscaling NbS in water management across sectors and contributes to long-term climate change resilience and adaptation in South Asia.

Nature-based Solutions:

IUCN defines Nature-based Solutions (NbS), “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”. NbS offers a cost-beneficial strategy to manage water provision, including groundwater recharge and to tackle water-related disasters such as floods, droughts and extreme weather events. NbS approaches that are more flexible and resilient than many traditionally engineered solutions (Browder et al., 2019).




This project is funded by The World Bank through Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia (CARE) project. 

For further details on CARE project, please visit:

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