Ecosystem Management

A Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions

In order to create a common understanding and consensus on Nature-based Solutions (NbS), the Ecosystem Management Programme and Commission are jointly leading the collaborate process of elaborating a Global Standard for the Design and Verification of Nature-based Solutions.
Mangrove trees on the edge of a lagoon in Tonga.

The definition of Nature-based Solutions

At the 2016 World Conservation Congress and members’ assembly, IUCN's members adopted a resolution (WCC-2016-Res-069-EN) which, for the first time, defined the use of nature for simultaneous benefits to biodiversity and human well-being. According to the resolution, Nature-based Solutions (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”.

This definition is drawn from a more elaborated IUCN publication that outlines the NbS framework (Cohen-Sacham, 2016) and has been used to identify a set of eight best practice principles.

Why do we need solutions?

Societal challenges that Nature-based Solutions address.Photo: IUCN

We face an array of societal challenges below which in the past we have tried to solve in a way which has led to worldwide biodiversity and climate crises, increased inequalities and global human vulnerability.

Meanwhile, the recent global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) paints a very bleak picture for biodiversity with one million species of plants and animals globally threatened or extinct.

The value of a global standard

The aim of the Standard is to increase demand for NbS thus bringing about positive sustainable change. To mainstream NbS, a common language and framework is required to bring together partners around such intersectional challenges. This is where the Standard comes in. Moreover, as NbS are increasingly adopted and scaled up, a Standard is demanded to ensure the quality and credibility of NbS, thus securing their effectiveness to provide benefits to both human well-being and biodiversity.

What does the standard look like?

The Standard is comprised of nine criteria and their associated indicators, developed by the IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme and Commission, effectively operationalizing the best-practice principles of NbS identified in 2016. Guidance will instruct users how to use the standard to:

  • Design new NbS;
  • Upscale pilots by identifying gaps and;
  • Verify past projects and future proposals.

Diagram of the eight criterion that make up the Global Standard for Nature-based SolutionsPhoto: IUCN

The output will be in the form of a % match, with a traffic light system and circumplex chart to identify areas for further work.

How can you get involved?

Prior to the launch of the Standard in Marseille, France, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress (11-19 June 2020), the Standard will undergo a series of public consultations and be piloted with champion projects and partners.

The second public consultation is currently underway and is available in English, French and Spanish. Find more information on how to get involved here.

Timeline for NbS standard development prior to launch at IUCN congress in 2020Photo: IUCN

To pilot the Standard, take part in the public consultation or sign up to get updates, do not hesitate to get in touch with the IUCN Global Ecosystem Management Programme at [email protected].

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