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NEWS: Enhancing national climate plans through nature-based solutions

In 2020, countries have the opportunity to take more ambitious action on climate change by updating their climate plans (Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. A new guidance paper by WWF US provides recommendations on how countries can integrate nature-based solutions in these national climate plans.

Nature-based solutions are ecosystem conservation, management and restoration interventions that address a wide array of societal challenges, while also benefiting biodiversity and human well-being. Recently, they have emerged as essential tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.

A new publication, Enhancing National Climate Plans Through Nature-Based Solutions, aims to help countries enhance climate action by including the opportunities offered by nature-based solutions in their revised NDCs. To this end, the report presents eight simple recommendations:

  • Include the use of nature for both climate change adaptation and mitigation and priotise actions that achieve both.
  • Include the need for technical and financial support to achieve results.
  • Ensure adherence to social and environmental safeguards, and include community participation and consultation in the development and management of nature-based climate solutions.
  • Integrate commitments to other international conventions and relevant national policies that result in climate adaptation and mitigation benefits.
  • Acknowledge and manage climate risks that threaten the long-term viability of nature-based solutions.
  • Explore all ecosystem types that can provide climate benefits – wetlands, forests, mangroves, coral reefs, grasslands, working lands, urban landscapes.
  • To maximise benefits to biodiversity, utilise natural ecosystems over “artificial” or “modified” ecosystems, and include climate benefits derived from protected areas.
  • Set ambitious, measurable and time-bound numeric targets (e.g. hectares of ecosystems utilized, CO2 sequestered and/or number of people benefiting from increased resilience).

Furthermore, the report provides examples from countries’ existing NDCs – to demonstrate strong commitments to nature-based solutions in practice. The report includes a list of resources for further guidance.

The focus is on designing measurable climate change adaptation and/or mitigation outcomes. This enables countries to monitor progress against targets, which is essential to access climate finance.

Optimising the benefits of ‘nature-based solutions to climate change’ for both people and nature links well to international agendas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, there is a strong link to SDG 11 on Cities and Communities – because nature-based solutions can be undertaken in ways that anticipate and manage climate risks and increase urban resilience.

This guidance was developed by WWF US as a contribution to the NDC Partnership, in the framework of a grant agreement with the Support Project for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPA), which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under its International Climate Initiative (IKI).

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