Story | 14 Jul, 2022

Valuing, financing and mainstreaming Nature-based Solutions in China

Beijing, China – A new study released last month examining the value of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) calls for stronger policy and financing support, together with wider application and scaling up of NbS across China.

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Photo: IUCN

Commissioned by China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), the Special Policy Study (SPS) conducted by IUCN and the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (RCEES/CAS), explores the values and benefits of NbS in tackling societal challenges, such as biodiversity loss, climate change and food security.

The study was presented at the Open Forum on Nature-based Solutions and Ecological Benefit Valuation on 14 June during the 2022 Annual General Meeting of CCICED, where more than 10 Chinese and international experts and some 500 participants also discussed the progress and experiences to develop, implement, finance and evaluate NbS initiatives.  

The forum was opened by Mr Cui Shuhong, Director General of Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, and Mr Hideki Minamikawa, CCICED member and President of Japan Environmental Sanitation Center, followed by keynote speeches from Prof Ouyang Zhiyun, Director of RCEES/CAS, and Mr. Stewart Maginnis, Deputy Director General of IUCN.

“While traditional conservation focuses on protecting nature from influences, Nature-based Solutions help address social challenges and safeguard our society,” said Mr Maginnis.

Since the launch of the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions™ in 2020, the NbS approach is gradually winning global recognition, with a growing number of governmental organisations integrating this concept into their policies, and enterprises and NGOs providing support for NbS projects.  

In September 2021, CCICED issued a study on NbS and requested further studies on this topic. Subsequently in 2022, CCICED commissioned IUCN and RCEES/CAS to further assess how NbS could be valued in relation to the roles that NbS can play in tackling societal challenges, such as climate change. IUCN and RCEES/CAS jointly formulated the Special Policy Study on Value Assessment of Nature-Based Solutions and co-organized this forum.

“The study makes clear policy recommendations based on an analysis of sectors, case studies, and various valuation approaches. These recommendations include further mainstreaming and localizing NbS in China, establishing coordinated NbS management mechanism, broadening NbS investment and financing channels, increasing awareness of NbS as well as emphasizing the role of women”, noted Kristin Meyer, Legal Officer of IUCN Environment Law Center, and the International Coordinator of the SPS.  

Over 10 experts from international institutions (IUCN, Natural Resources Defense Council, World Economic Forum, United Nations Development Programme, The Nature Conservancy, World Conservation Monitoring Center etc), government (Ministry of Natural Resources of China), research institutions (RCEES/CAS), NGO (Greenovation Hub) and Businesses (Beijing ZEHO and Ant Group) also shared their progress, knowledge and experiences on NbS assessment, financing, policies, practices and mainstreaming in China and internationally.

Key messages from the experts’ speeches and discussions during the forum included:

Key message 1: Nature provides solutions for addressing global challenges: Biodiversity loss and climate change remain the most urgent and significant global challenges. NbS can be effective solutions to simultaneously achieve synergies, address biodiversity loss, help adapt and mitigate climate change, as well as achieve SDGs.

Key message 2: There is a need to assess NbS’s values and benefits: To fully leverage the potential of NbS, measures and actions should be taken to quantify tangible benefits of NbS for the society and biodiversity. The SEEA EA and the Gross Ecosystem Products (GEP) are two complementary frameworks in assessing the values and benefits of NbS. Applying such methods and indicators is conducive to strengthening the understanding and application of NbS for stakeholders and further mainstreaming the concept.

Key message 3: Increasing green financing to close gaps: Green financing has increased dramatically in recent years, yet gaps in climate and biodiversity financing remain large. Public and private financial flows need to be encouraged and aligned with environmental, climate and sustainable development commitments. Promoting further understanding and application of NbS and the IUCN Global Standard for NbS can ensure the quality of and social benefits generated by NbS programmes and interventions.

Key message 4: NbS mainstreaming calls for coherent policy, knowledge sharing and stakeholder cooperation: Although NbS is an integrated solution, there is still a long way to go to coordinate and facilitate policy, knowledge and action. NbS knowledge base is improved. PANORAMA, established by IUCN and its partners, is collecting NbS case studies from the world, and thus a convenient tool for stakeholders.

Key message 5: China is a champion of Nature-based Solutions and has already made remarkable progress: NbS have been gradually integrated into China’s policies, for example the National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation 2035, and the Guidance for Ecological Conservation and Restoration Programmes of Mountains, Rivers, Forests, Farmlands, Lakes, and Grasslands. China has also accumulated a great deal of experiences in spatial planning, and conservation and restoration of landscapes and important ecosystems across the country. They reflect and apply the concept, method and standard of NbS to varying degrees. Stakeholders from all sectors should work together to further advance the localization and mainstreaming of NbS in China.

IUCN Regional Director for Asia Dr. Dindo Campilan, commended the joint SPS team for successfully taking stock of China’s NbS knowledge, practice and policy while complemented with international NbS expertise and cases from IUCN. To build on the study’s findings and recommendations, he underscored the critical challenge and strategic opportunity for CAS, IUCN and partners -- to support NbS mainstreaming through stronger policy and financing support, together with its wider application and scaling across China.