Ecosystem Management

IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions

In order to ensure that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) reach their potential to address societal challenges, IUCN has developed the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions for use by governments, businesses, investors, communities and NGOs.
Mangrove trees on the edge of a lagoon in Tonga.

Click here for the new page of the IUCN Global Standard for NbS.

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) 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. Further research by IUCN further identified the core principles for successfully implementing and upscaling Nature-based Solutions (Cohen-Sacham, 2019).

Why do we need Nature-based Solutions?

Societal challenges that Nature-based Solutions address.

We face an array of societal challenges, which in the past we have tried to solve in a way that 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.

NbS are increasingly accepted and being implemented to address our societal challenges listed above. They can provide over a third of our climate mitigation needs while benefiting people and nature.

The value of a global standard

The aim of the Standard is to increase demand for NbS while safeguarding people and nature thus bringing about positive sustainable change. To mainstream NbS, a common language and framework is required to bring together partners around such intersectional challenges. 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?

Through public consultation reaching stakeholders from 100 countries, the Global Standard for NbS was developed to be facilitative, incentivising and enabling users to implement strong NbS. The Global Standard is comprised of eight criteria and their associated indicators, effectively operationalizing the best-practice principles of NbS identified in 2016. Guidance will instruct users how to perform a self-assessment with the standard to:

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

The output will be in the form of a % match, with a traffic light system to identify areas for further work and report on adherence to the Global Standard for NbS.

Nature-based Solutions, NbS, Criteria for Nature-based Solutions, Global Standard for NbS, Nature-based Solution definition Photo: IUCN




What is next for the Global Standard for NbS?

After a successful global consultation, the first version of the Global Standard for NbS is now finalised and will be launched on the 23 July, 2020 in a high-level virtual event.

There are still opportunities to get involved. Users are encouraged to:

  • Join the conversation at the launch event (registration link to be released soon);
  • Pilot the Global Standard for NbS in current and future applications;
  • and engage with the governance structure of the Global Standard for NbS.

To learn more, do not hesitate to get in touch with the IUCN NbS Group emailing Daisy Hessenberger at

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