Nature-based Solutions to address global societal challenges- IUCN 2016

Cohen-Shacham, E., Walters, G., Janzen, C. and Maginnis, S. (eds.) (2016). Nature-based Solutions to address global societal challenges. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. xiii + 97pp. ISBN: 978-2-8317-1812-5 DOI:

Defining Nature-based Solutions

What are Nature-based Solutions?

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are defined by IUCN as “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”.

Overarching goal of Nature-based Solutions

NbS are intended to support the achievement of society’s development goals and safeguard human well-being in ways that reflect cultural and societal values and enhance the resilience of ecosystems, their capacity for renewal and the provision of services. NbS are designed to address major societal challenges, such as food security, climate change, water security, human health, disaster risk, social and economic development.

Nature-based Solutions principles

A list of preliminary principles was developed for NbS. To define that list, several existing frameworks were analysed (e.g. Ecosystem Approach and its principles, Ecosystem Services approach, the original list of principles for NbS in the 2013-2016 IUCN Programme….[see list here]

Nature-based Solutions as an umbrella concept for ecosystem-related approaches

In framing NbS and considering its applications, it is useful to think of it as an umbrella concept that covers a whole range of ecosystem-related approaches all of which address societal challenges. These approaches can be placed into five main categories, as shown in the following table.

Category of NbS Approaches Examples
Ecosystem restoration approaches
  • Ecological restoration
  • Ecological Engineering
  • Forest landscape restoration
Issue-specific ecosystem-related approaches
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation
  • Ecosystem-based mitigation
  • Climate adaptation services
  • Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction
Infrastructure-related approaches
  • Natural infrastructure
  • Green infrastructure
Ecosystem-based management approaches
  • Integrated coastal zone management
  • Integrated water resources management
Ecosystem protection approaches
  • Area-based conservation approaches, including protected area management