In recent years we have seen a rapid escalation and focus around global biodiversity and nature protection, with this being solidified through the release of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This increasing focus has brought about the term “Nature-Based Solutions” (NBS), which has become increasingly ubiquitous and “trendy”, and resulted in a number of frameworks and tools being released to help organisations and governments report on their nature impacts and establish targets (TNFD, SBTn). It is all becoming quite frenzied and a bit confusing! So, let’s take a step back for a moment and discuss what are NBS, and how do they apply to the urban setting?
Let’s be honest, NBS are nothing new! They are approaches and strategies that seek to use nature and natural elements to address environmental and societal challenges. Specifically, the solutions aim to work with and mimic natural processes, rather than relying solely on traditional engineering or man-made interventions. Within the urban context, NBS help to create happier and healthier cities, that are also water-sensitive, nature-rich, resilient, and thriving. Everything that Liveable Cities encapsulates!!
So what are some examples of Urban NBS? Well, planting trees and growing canopy cover, for one! Trees are one of the best ways to address multiple local urban issues (e.g. mitigating heat, improving water quality, enhancing human health and well-being, increasing local economies, conserving native wildlife), as well as contribute to addressing global challenges (e.g. mitigating climate change). Other urban NBS examples include: green roofs and walls, equitable access to high quality urban parks and green spaces, biophilic design, water-sensitive urban design (WSUD) and biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD), and urban agriculture and community gardens.
For those of us who have been working in the Liveable Cities space and implementing actions for years, turns out we’ve been implementing urban NBS all along! What has really changed though is the global focus on NBS, both within and outside of urban areas, and the growing requirement now for businesses and governments to quantify their impacts on nature and demonstrate improved outcomes through real actions.
This, we support and welcome whole-heartedly!