Investing in nature-based solutions to the climate emergency

Post author image. Amanda Skeldon
Amanda Skeldon, Campaign Manager at Business in the Community (BITC) discusses how nature-based solutions (NBS) can help tackle the climate crisis.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) have the potential to provide a third of the climate adaptation needed by 2030,1 however, finding ways to finance them is challenging.

In early 2019 Business in the Community (BITC) and 11 partners embarked on a pioneering project to develop innovative ways to finance nature-based solutions to climate change. The EU Urban Innovative Action funded IGNITION project has, over the last three years, furthered understanding of how to monetise the value of nature and develop robust business cases for investment. The solutions are not simple and the challenge of how to bridge the funding gap for nature still exists. However, the lessons are broad-reaching and offer a strong business case for organisations looking to develop a proactive approach to investment in urban NBS.

When compared with engineered alternatives, the added value that NBS provide is impressive. Engineered flood-defences may mitigate the risk from local flooding during extreme storms. However, a rain-garden can do this and so much more. Rain-gardens enhance communities, improve well-being, capture carbon, increase urban biodiversity, improve air quality and provide cooling in heat and drought2.

At COP26 the world’s governments agreed that biodiversity, NBS, adaptation and resilience were as important as achieving net zero in the battle against climate change. Yet, while many businesses have committed to net zero, very few have looked to establish a nature strategy. BITC’s recent report, The Right Climate For Business: leading a just transition, based on YouGov research commissioned by BITC, found 85% of the public placed ‘extreme weather’ among their top climate worries. 79% listed ‘damage to nature’. Most people do not think that businesses are doing enough to address these issues.

On 30 March 2022, the IGNITION project will share evidence, resources and business cases for investing and installing nature-based solutions across our towns and cities at a hybrid conference. The timing could not be more critical. 2022 sees the launch of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework, Science-based Targets for Nature, UK government policy on Biodiversity Net Gain and roll out local nature recovery strategies. There is no better time to address the importance of nature to your business.

Throughout the pandemic we have seen people reconnect with nature. There is a growing recognition that our natural environment is integral to both individual happiness and commercial resilience. To quote Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, there is increased awareness that “humans are a part of nature, not apart from nature”. While there is still no simple solution to the investment challenge around nature-based solutions, this change in attitude alongside the emergence of nature-driven policy, frameworks and reporting gives me hope. Hope that when companies are considering their response to the climate emergency and developing climate action plans, the restoration and stewardship of our natural environment will emerge as a key priority.

Join the IGNITION conference and find out more about the lessons from Greater Manchester on Investing in Nature.

CLIMATE ACTION: THE TIME IS NOW

References

  1. Seddon et al. (2019) Nature-based Solutions in Nationally Determined Contributions: Synthesis and recommendations for enhancing climate ambition and action by 2020. Gland, Switzerland and Oxford, UK: IUCN and University of Oxford
  2. Business in the Community (2020) Nature-based Solutions to the Climate Emergency – IGNITION project.