Story | 22 May, 2024

Oceania Nature-based Solutions guided by IUCN Global Standard: Mr. Singh sheds light

Facing environmental challenges head-on, Pacific Island nations are embracing a resilient approach: Nature-based Solutions (NbS). This strategy uses the power of nature itself to address pressing issues like climate change and biodiversity loss. But how can these solutions be implemented effectively across the diverse island nations of Oceania? The answer lies in a powerful framework – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Standard for NbS.

In this interview, we will be hearing from Mr. Vinay Singh, IUCN NbS Coordinator and Promoting Pacific Islands Nature-based Solutions (PPIN) Project Manager. Fresh from the NbS workshop held this week at the National University of Samoa, Mr. Singh will shed light on the IUCN Global Standards for NbS and how they can be used in Oceania.

1. Can you give an overview of the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions and how it can be used in Oceania?

Global NbS Standard Overview

IUCN developed the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to provide a consistent framework for designing, implementing, and evaluating NbS projects. This standard ensures that NbS effectively address societal challenges while supporting biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. While designing the standard, it was critical to provide a definition and so a formal definition was adopted in 2016 at the World Conservation Congress, which states, “NbS are actions that protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, providing benefits for both human well-being and biodiversity”.

The NbS Global standard is structured around 8 criteria and 28 associated indicators: addressing societal challenges, being informed by inclusive governance, economic viability, balancing trade-offs, adaptive management, sustainability, and considering all social, economic, and environmental benefits and costs. This standard is a tool for policymakers, practitioners, and investors to ensure that NbS are scientifically credible, practical, and inclusive, thereby supporting the design, implementation, and scaling-up of effective NbS interventions.

Application in Oceania

Oceania, encompassing Pacific Island nations, face unique environmental and societal challenges that can benefit from the application of NbS. The IUCN Global Standard can be particularly useful in this region for various purposes. Regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation, NbS can include implementing mangrove restoration projects to protect coastal areas from erosion and storm surges, and conserving forests and reefs to sequester carbon. For biodiversity conservation, restoring degraded coral reefs and native forests can enhance biodiversity, while natural methods to control invasive species can help restore native ecosystems.

Additionally, NbS can significantly reduce disaster risk by using wetlands and mangroves as natural barriers to reduce the impact of cyclones, floods, and tsunamis, and promoting agricultural practices that increase resilience to extreme weather events. In terms of sustainable development, involving local communities in the planning and implementation, NbS can foster sustainable livelihoods and enhance social cohesion while promoting eco-tourism and sustainable fisheries can provide economic benefits while preserving natural resources.

Integrating NbS into national climate adaptation plans, biodiversity strategies, and disaster risk reduction frameworks is crucial for policy integration. Facilitating regional cooperation among Pacific islands to address transboundary environmental challenges through NbS can further enhance the effectiveness of these solutions.

2. What key regional initiatives and guides on Nature-based Solutions have been developed for the Oceania region?

Kiwa Initiative

The Kiwa Initiative is a multi-donor program focused on enhancing the resilience of Pacific Island ecosystems, communities, and economies to climate change through Nature-based Solutions (NbS). Supported by partners including the European Union, France, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in collaboration with regional organisations like the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Secretariat of the Pacific Committee (SPC) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The initiative aims to protect biodiversity, improve ecosystem services, and promote sustainable development. It provides funding for small and large-scale NbS projects, offers technical assistance, and facilitates knowledge sharing and capacity building. By supporting activities such as mangrove restoration in Fiji and coral reef conservation in the Solomon Islands, the Kiwa Initiative helps Pacific Island nations adapt to climate impacts while fostering sustainable practices and enhancing local capacity for environmental management.


The Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change Plus (PEBACC+) project is an initiative led by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) aimed at enhancing the resilience of Pacific Island communities to climate change through ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies. Building on the success of the original PEBACC project, PEBACC+ focuses on integrating EbA into national and regional policies, improving the management of natural resources, and fostering sustainable livelihoods. The project supports the restoration and conservation of vital ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, and forests, which provide critical services like coastal protection, food security, and water regulation. By combining scientific research with community engagement and capacity building, PEBACC+ helps Pacific Island nations develop adaptive strategies that harness the power of nature to mitigate climate impacts and support sustainable development.


Climate Resilient Islands

The Climate Resilient Islands project, funded by NZMFAT and implemented by Live & Learn Environmental Education, aims to bolster Pacific Island communities resilience to climate change impacts through innovative, community-driven approaches. This project focuses on integrating traditional knowledge with modern sustainable practices to enhance food security, water management, and disaster preparedness. Key activities include promoting climate-resilient agriculture, establishing sustainable water supply systems, and restoring critical ecosystems such as mangroves and coastal forests. By engaging local communities in capacity-building initiatives and participatory planning, the Climate Resilient Islands project empowers these communities to develop and implement effective adaptation strategies, thereby enhancing their ability to withstand and recover from climate-related challenges while promoting sustainable livelihoods.

PPIN Project

The Promoting Pacific Islands Nature-based Solutions (PPIN) project is an initiative dedicated to enhancing the resilience of Pacific Island communities and ecosystems to climate change through the implementation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS). Managed by IUCN Oceania and led by regional partners of SPC, SPREP, GGGI and supported by NZMFAT, the PPIN project focuses on conserving and restoring critical habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs, and forests that provide essential ecosystem services and protect against climate impacts. The project aims to integrate NbS into regional and national policies, foster sustainable development practices, and build local capacity for effective NbS implementation. By engaging communities, policymakers, and stakeholders in collaborative efforts, PPIN promotes the use of natural infrastructure to address climate challenges, support biodiversity, and enhance the well-being and resilience of Pacific Island nations.


Climate Resilient by Nature (CRxN) is an Australian Government initiative, in partnership with WWF-Australia, advancing high-integrity, equitable nature-based solutions to climate change in the Indo-Pacific. Launched in 2021, it supports projects that work with communities to restore and protect critical ecosystems, build sustainable livelihoods and increase resilience to climate shocks. CRxN is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and additional funding is provided by the Mekong Australia Partnership - Energy, Water and Climate (MAP-WEC). Nature-based solutions can be applied to address a range of problems including mitigating and adapting to the challenges of climate change.


Climate Adaption and Protected Areas (CAPA) Initiative aims to implement nature-based solutions that respond to Fiji's climate change and biodiversity impacts. The initiative's primary objective is to restore landscapes and encourage community conservation areas and sustainable fishing – all of which help keep ecosystems healthy and support community well-being. The CAPA Initiative is working with local communities to design and implement nature-based solutions (NbS) for adaptation that respond to climate change and biodiversity impacts in Fiji. It will focus on the participation of underrepresented groups to promote sustainable fisheries and create new community conservation areas to help reduce climate vulnerabilities and preserve functional and healthy ecosystems. The initiative aims to protect biodiversity and increase climate resilience in Fiji. The CAPA Initiative will work in twenty communities across the provinces of Ra, Lomaiviti, Tailevu and Bua.


The €12.18 million Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) was funded primarily by the European Union (€12 million) with targeted support from Monaco and the Swiss Confederation. PACRES aimed to ensure better regional and national adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change challenges facing Pacific ACP countries. It was delivered jointly by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) through mid-2023. PACRES enhanced resilience to climate change and natural disasters was being delivered through a range of regional and national activities.

Tools and Guides

Pacific EbA Tool

The Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation Tool (Pacific EBA tool) provides decision support for planning for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) initiatives in the Pacific. It guides the types of EbA interventions that may be considered depending on local circumstances and regional requirements. The Pacific EBA tool is tailored to the needs of planners at the national, subnational and community levels in the Pacific. It utilises three guiding questions to identify possible EbA options and does not require the input of detailed datasets. Instead of detailed planning and design information, the tool provides links to information for planners to initiate scoping and selection of potential EbA options.


The NUWAO Nature-based Solutions Design Guide for Te Moananui Oceania is a tool for those involved in urban design, planning, policy-making, and community engagement, who aim to create urban spaces that work with nature to enhance the health and wellbeing of people, other living beings, and ecosystems. It features an accessible database of approximately 100 practical NbS strategies, offering guidance and inspiration for the design of NbS initiatives. The strategies range from internationally recognised to those unique to the Te Moananui Oceania region. NbS can be searched for in five distinct ways based on: realms of influence related to a varying but common Te Moananui Oceania notion of interconnected living ecologies; climate change impacts addressed; societal benefits produced; the location of case studies; or by alphabetical order.

3. What are some unique challenges and opportunities for implementing Nature-based Solutions in the small island environments of Oceania?

Implementing NbS in the small island environments of Oceania presents unique challenges and opportunities. Challenges include limited land area, which restricts the scope of large-scale projects, and the vulnerability of these islands to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and coastal erosion. Additionally, the isolation of many islands can hinder access to resources, technical expertise, and funding, while traditional livelihoods and cultural practices may sometimes conflict with new conservation strategies.

However, there are significant opportunities as well. The strong communal ties and traditional ecological knowledge of Pacific island communities can be leveraged to foster community-driven NbS initiatives. These islands boast rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems, making them ideal candidates for conservation and restoration projects that can provide substantial environmental and socioeconomic benefits. Furthermore, integrating NbS into policy frameworks can enhance resilience to climate change and promote sustainable development, aligning with global environmental goals and attracting international support and investment.

Moreover, the small-scale and close-knit nature of island communities in Oceania facilitate the implementation of localised NbS projects that can be tailored to specific environmental and cultural contexts. Opportunities also exist in the tourism sector, where eco-tourism initiatives centered around well-managed natural sites can generate income while promoting conservation. Additionally, partnerships with international organisations, NGOs, and academic institutions can bring much-needed technical expertise, funding, and innovative approaches to NbS. For instance, initiatives like the Kiwa Initiative, PPIN and the PEBACC+ project demonstrate how collaborative efforts can lead to successful NbS implementation. Furthermore, the use of NbS can enhance food and water security by restoring ecosystems that support fisheries and freshwater supplies, which are critical for the livelihoods and well-being of island populations. Lastly, the global focus on climate action and sustainable development provides a strategic platform for Oceania to advocate for increased support and investment in NbS, positioning the region as a leader in innovative, nature-based climate resilience strategies.

4. How can we encourage the adoption of Nature-based Solutions across different regional sectors and stakeholders?

Encouraging the adoption of NbS across different sectors and stakeholders in Oceania requires a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, raising awareness about the benefits of NbS through education and outreach campaigns can help garner public and political support. Integrating NbS into national and regional policy frameworks ensures that these solutions are prioritised and funded appropriately. Cross-sector collaboration is crucial; engaging stakeholders from government, private sector, academia, and local communities fosters a shared vision and pooled resources for NbS projects. Providing financial incentives, such as grants, subsidies, and tax benefits, can stimulate investment from businesses and landowners. Demonstrating the economic, social, and environmental benefits of successful NbS projects through case studies and pilot programs can build confidence and showcase replicable models. Capacity-building initiatives, including training and workshops, can equip local communities and professionals with the skills needed to design and implement effective NbS. Finally, fostering partnerships with international organisations and leveraging global climate finance mechanisms can bring in necessary funding and technical expertise, ensuring the scalability and sustainability of NbS initiatives across the region.

5. How can capacity building and knowledge sharing support the development and implementation of Nature-based Solutions in the region?

Capacity building and knowledge sharing are pivotal for developing and implementing NbS in Oceania. By enhancing local expertise and technical skills, capacity-building initiatives empower communities, policymakers, and practitioners to design, implement, and manage effective NbS projects. Training programs, workshops, and educational courses can provide stakeholders with the necessary tools and knowledge to integrate NbS into their planning and decision-making processes. Knowledge sharing, facilitated through platforms such as conferences, webinars, and regional networks, enables the exchange of best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches. This collective learning process helps avoid common pitfalls and replicates successful strategies across different contexts. Additionally, engaging local and indigenous knowledge enriches NbS with culturally relevant and ecologically sound practices. Strengthening institutional capacities ensures governments and organisations can support and sustain NbS initiatives over the long term. Ultimately, capacity building and knowledge sharing foster a collaborative environment where diverse stakeholders work together to enhance resilience and sustainability through NbS.

6. What policy, institutional, and financing considerations need to be addressed to ensure the long-term sustainability of Nature-based Solutions in Oceania?

Ensuring the long-term sustainability of NbS in Oceania requires addressing several key policy, institutional, and financing considerations. Policy frameworks need to be robust and supportive, integrating NbS into national and regional development plans, climate adaptation strategies, and biodiversity conservation policies. Clear guidelines and standards, such as the IUCN Global Standard for NbS, should be adopted to ensure consistency and effectiveness. Institutionally, there must be strong governance structures that promote cross-sector collaboration and stakeholder engagement, including the involvement of local communities and indigenous groups. Building the capacity of institutions to manage and monitor NbS projects is also crucial. From a financing perspective, securing diverse and sustainable funding sources is essential. This can include leveraging international climate finance, establishing public-private partnerships, and creating innovative financial mechanisms such as green bonds or payment for ecosystem services schemes. Ensuring long-term financial commitment and creating incentives for private sector investment will help maintain and scale NbS initiatives. Additionally, integrating NbS into economic planning and demonstrating their cost-effectiveness and multiple co-benefits can attract broader support and investment.

IUCN NbS Global Standard