Nature may be the answer to how countries act on the climate crisis

a forest in Thailand

In 2015, the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, the first truly global commitment to action on climate. The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. And for the first time, countries were provided the opportunity to include adaptation plans in their Nationally Determined Contributions—the goals of emissions reductions required for signatories of the Paris Agreement.

There are many approaches that governments can take to mitigate their climate emissions and prepare for inevitable change, but sometimes overlooked is the role nature itself can play. Nature-based solutions are ecosystem conservation, management, and restoration projects designed to address a wide range of challenges while also benefiting biodiversity and human well-being. When designed intentionally to tackle the climate crisis, nature-based solutions have emerged as a critical tool for governments in their efforts to both mitigate emissions and adapt to the challenges of a changing climate.

As part of the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to update their commitments this year. To help countries in their efforts to meet the ambitious goals of the agreement, WWF has now developed a new set of eight recommendations for integrating nature-based solutions for climate action into national approaches to meeting their commitments and even moving beyond them.

Recommendations for incorporating nature-based solutions into plans

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    1. Include the use of nature for both climate change mitigation and adaptation and prioritize actions that provide benefits for both.

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    2. Set ambitious, measurable, and numeric time-bound targets (e.g. acres of ecosystems used, CO2 sequestered, and/or the number of people benefiting from increased resilience.

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    3. To maximize benefits to biodiversity, use natural ecosystems over "artificial" or "modified" ecosystems, and include climate benefits derived from protected areas.

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    4. Explore all ecosystem types that can provide climate benefits—wetlands, forests, mangroves, coral reefs, grasslands, working lands, urban landscapes.

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    5. Acknowledge and manage climate risks that threaten the longterm viability of nature-based solutions.

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    6. Integrate commitments to other international conventions and relevant national policies that result in climate adaptation and mitigation benefits.

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    7. Ensure adherence to social and environmental safeguards, and include community participation and consultation in the development and management of nature-based climate solutions.

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    8. Include the need for technical and financial support to achieve results.

This guidance was developed as a contribution to the NDC Partnership and made possible by the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement , which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenrarbeit and funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety under its International Climate Initiative.

Read the full report.