Nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions use nature to help tackle environmental and social challenges, providing benefits to people and nature, and help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Nature-based solutions refer to the use of nature and natural environments to help tackle socio-environmental challenges, providing benefits to people and nature. In particular, these solutions can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

In nature-based climate change mitigation, ecosystem services are used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve and expand carbon sinks.

In nature-based climate adaptation, the goal is to preserve ecosystem services that are necessary for human life in the face of climate change and to reduce the impact of anticipated negative effects of climate change (e.g. more intense rainfall, more frequent floods as well as heat waves and droughts). 

Compared to technology-based solutions to climate challenges, nature-based solutions are often more cost-effective, longer lasting, and have multiple synergistic benefits including:

  • Reducing net emissions
  • Expanding carbon sinks
  • Providing habitats for biodiversity
  • Benefiting human health and well-being
  • Helping our society and economy adapt to climate change
  • Making more resilient and nicer places to live and work

There are a number of different ways nature-based solutions can be implemented both in urban and rural environments.

For example, restoring peat bogs can increase the amount of carbon they store, and using natural sea defences can help protect communities from rising sea levels and storm events. Nature-based solutions can also provide ecosystem services for urban areas – providing resources, regulating environments, creating habitats, and generating social and cultural activities.

Our habitats and species are under threat from a range of issues, including climate change. Enhancing our nature is also part of the solution to the climate emergency. This short video illustrates what we mean by nature-based solutions.

More videos on nature-based solutions

The Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NBSI), University of Oxford, working with filmmaker Matthew Mullholland, has produced a series of short documentaries showcasing nature-based solutions in action from around the UK. 

The following three documentaries were released at COP26 and they explore working with nature in several different environments. 

You can read more about NBSI and Nature-based Solutions in Action in the UK.

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