Category: NbS

New guidance document will help LAC-based project developers prepare bankable NbS projects

New guidance document will help LAC-based project developers prepare bankable NbS projects

A fresh-off-the-press IDB technical guidance document will help LAC-based project developers prepare bankable Nature-based Solutions (NbS) projects that provide a substitute, compliment or safeguard to conventional ‘gray’ infrastructure projects.

Nature based Solutions (NbS) can play a central role in meeting the rising demand for infrastructure, and strengthening the resilience of infrastructure assets. They offer a cost-effective approach to enhance resilience, while providing a range of social and environmental benefits (e.g. recreational opportunities, habitat for biodiversity). In this context, NbS refer to activities associated with the protection, management, enhancement, and restoration of nature and implemented to deliver climate resilient infrastructure. This could refer to re-forestation activities for erosion control, coral reef restoration for coastal protection, and green space creation for stormwater runoff control in densely populated urban areas.

There is a high awareness of the benefits and services that NbS can provide, yet significantly less implementation within the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) context. Their potential remains largely untapped due to a number of barriers that prevent mainstreaming NbS into project development. Some of these barriers are upstream, for example, the lack of NbS incorporation into infrastructure policy and planning documents, or a lack of financial instruments to finance NbS. Other barriers are further downstream: these include, the challenges of defining the business case and accessing finance and funding, and the lack of adequate data, methods, and tools to incorporate NbS into project development.

In tackling some of these downstream challenges, the IDB, in collaboration with Acclimatise, have released a 12-step technical guidance document to integrate NbS into project development. The Guidance is targeted to planners, engineers, architects, contractors and operators interested in preparing bankable climate resilient projects that incorporate NbS either as a substitute, complement or safeguard to conventional infrastructure projects.

How was the guidance developed?

Figure 1: The twelve step process, and two cross-cutting themes, for integrating NbS into project development

In September 2019, the IDB convened a workshop with a range of LAC-based project developers and international experts with experience in NbS implementation (e.g. Deltares, World Bank, World Resources Institute, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). As LAC as a whole is early stages of NbS implementation, the IDB considered it opportune to leverage lessons learned from other parts of the world where NbS is more mainstream in project development, for example the Netherlands. At the workshop, the NbS experts iterated a preliminary technical guidance document that was drafted based on a review of LAC and international literature. The experts iterated the early stage draft and helped answer important questions such as ‘is this how it works in practice?’ ‘what steps or processes still need to be incorporated in this document?’, ‘what are the important LAC-specific elements that must be included?’.

The NbS experts shared their experiences and insights which were incorporated in the document, both at the workshop and throughout an extensive review in the months after.  The end product is the result of a participatory process incorporating multiple iterations with field experts, and should be considered a reference (or “go-to”) document for project developers interested in developing NbS projects in LAC, and globally.

The Technical Guidance Document is available in English and in Spanish and can be accessed here.


Cover photo by Michael Benz on Unsplash.
Acclimatise co-authors Natural Infrastructure chapter in IDB’s flagship publication, Development in the Americas

Acclimatise co-authors Natural Infrastructure chapter in IDB’s flagship publication, Development in the Americas

The Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) flagship publication “Development in the Americas” this year focuses on ways to improve the region’s infrastructure development to build resilience to climate change and its impacts. The report, “From Structures to Services: A New Vision for Infrastructure”, outlines a path to improve infrastructure services and manage fundamental challenges to achieve higher sustainability, affordability and quality in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Acclimatise co-authored chapter 8 of the report “Back to Nature: Alternatives to Concrete and Steel” which looks at the effectiveness of natural and combined natural-grey infrastructure compared to traditional approaches. The chapter explores six types of Natural Infrastructure (NI); coral reefs, mangroves, forests, constructed wetlands, green roofs and green spaces, across four geophysical settings; marine, coastal, terrestrial, and urban. The chapter discusses the efficacy of NI, cost-effectiveness, and also barriers and enablers to implementation.

The wider report covers tangible actions that can be taken to improve infrastructure services, and importantly the change in mindset that is required to implement novel solutions to complex challenges. It’s not just the ‘hardware’ that needs fixing (e.g. roads, power plants, water treatment plants) but also the software (e.g. regulations, governance) that needs updating.

The report argues that NI is one element of a new infrastructure paradigm that can help meet infrastructure requirements in a sustainable, affordable and high-quality manner. It involves managing natural (such as mangroves, forests) ecosystems and integrating natural and quasi-natural (e.g green roofs, bioswales) elements into the built environment, to deliver infrastructure services

As NI is new, it doesn’t have the long legacy in meeting infrastructure services in the same way that concrete and steel does, and the data, information and know-how that underpin it. Therefore, leveraging NI will require investments related to gathering and analyzing data to determine location-specific efficacy, planning, and securing financing. Yet the region can glean lessons learnt from other parts of the world where NI has become integrated into planning and development (e.g. the Netherlands) to leverage LAC’s endowment of natural capital to deliver infrastructure services.

Learn more about the potential of NI to achieve infrastructure services in the 2020 DIA.


Blackman, A., R. Guerrero, R. Hamaker-Taylor, A. Rycerz, M. Schling, L. Villalobos. 2020. “Back to Nature: Alternatives to Concrete and Steel.” Chapter 8 in E. Cavallo, A. Powell and T. Serebrisky (eds.). From Structures to Services: The Path to Better Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: InterAmerican Development Bank: 175-191.


Cover photo by Ben O’bro on Unsplash.
GEF supports new initiative to boost investment in nature-based infrastructure for climate adaptation

GEF supports new initiative to boost investment in nature-based infrastructure for climate adaptation

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a $2 million grant for a new venture in partnership with the MAVA Foundation, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which aims to increase investment in nature-based infrastructure that can help cities and countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The new global initiative, supported by the GEF-managed Special Climate Change Fund, will use financial modelling and climate change projections to establish the business case for investing in nature and make it easier for investors and government officials to assign a value to and consider nature-based solutions when making infrastructure spending decisions.

The project will equip decision-makers with comprehensive, system-wide valuations of natural assets, reflecting capital and operating costs as well as co-benefits from carbon sequestration, air purification, protection against water scarcity, and climate change adaptation, plus cost comparisons with grey infrastructure alternatives.

This is important as many decision-makers currently lack the tools to directly compare green or hybrid infrastructure solutions with alternatives, for instance when making decisions about flood control, food security, coastal protection, water conservation and wastewater treatment. Such infrastructure planning and spending decisions will be critically important in the coming years as countries plan their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and work toward more ambitious climate change, biodiversity, and other goals and frameworks.

“We are proud to support this venture, which will address the critical evidence gap that investors and project developers currently face as they evaluate whether to invest in nature and nature-based infrastructure,” said GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii. “Making this information more readily available will be a game changer for those making long-term decisions about infrastructure investments for economic recovery and development.”

The MAVA Foundation, a philanthropic organization working to conserve biodiversity for the benefit of people and nature, is partnering with the GEF and has pledged to provide $2 million in co-financing to scale up the impact of the project, which will be implemented by UNIDO and executed by IISD. The project, which will use data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, will also include a public online database making information on the valuation and performance of nature-based infrastructure available to a wide variety of project partners and stakeholders.

“Nature is part of the fundamental infrastructure on which thriving societies and economies depend. Despite its regenerative capacity, natural infrastructure – like built infrastructure – needs maintenance and therefore investment. This project will demonstrate that investing in maintaining and restoring our natural capital provides solutions to societal problems – above all to the adaptation to climate change. Most importantly, the training and capacity development offered will scale the project impact far beyond the concrete case examples,” said MAVA Foundation Director General Lynda Mansson.

“Our aim for this project is to consider social, economic, and environmental factors to demonstrate the system-wide case for investing in large-scale nature-based solutions,” said IISD President and CEO Richard Florizone. “Natural ecosystems like forests, mangroves, wetlands, and grasslands provide a range of ‘services’ that can complement and even substitute for built infrastructure. The strong evidence base we build through this unique partnership will help all market participants confidently invest in nature.”

“In line with UNIDO’s mandate to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development, we actively cooperate with private sector entities to further environmental stewardship approaches. This project will allow us to quantify the positive impact of stewardship activities on ecosystems as well as to demonstrate the cost efficiency of nature-based infrastructure. It will also allow us to highlight the economic value of the positive externalities provided by nature-based infrastructure to our partners in governments and international finance institutions. Thus, the project will have a catalytic impact on UNIDO’s efforts to up-scale public-private partnerships on environmental stewardship as required for a transformational change in climate change adaptation,” said UNIDO Managing Director Stephan Sicars.

The new project is an example of the GEF’s ongoing commitment to help countries and partners make wise investment decisions related to nature-based solutions and climate resilience, and reflects the Special Climate Change Fund’s focus on supporting innovative and impactful adaptation solutions. It will also support the Global Commission on Adaptation’s call to scale up action on nature-based solutions for adaptation.

For more information, please contact:

  • Laura MacInnis, GEF Senior Communications Officer, lmacinnis@thegef.org
  • Zahra Sethna, IISD Director of Communications, media@iisd.org
  • Holger Schmid, MAVA Foundation Program Director, holger.schmid@fondationmava.org
  • Charles Arthur, UNIDO Communications Officer, C.ARTHUR@unido.org

This article was posted on ReliefWeb.
Finding solutions in nature for climate change

Finding solutions in nature for climate change

By Xiaoting Hou Jones

On the International Day of Biological Diversity, IIED hosted a multi-stakeholder webinar on how to work with nature to mitigate and adapt to climate change and halt biodiversity loss. IIED senior researcher Xiaoting Hou Jones chaired the event, and here she shares some highlights from the discussions.

Two men pushing a boat filled with mangrove seedlings
Restoring mangroves in Mexico: biodiverse marine ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrass beds provide food and income for local people and protect against erosion and storm surges. (Photo: Andrea Stone, USAID/ECAM via FlickrCC BY-NC 2.0)

One key message from the webinar was the urgent need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together.

Alex White, team leader for International Climate and Strategy at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), summed up the urgent need. He said: “We need to develop approaches that reflect the complexity and scale of the challenges and work for climate, nature and people. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are part of the solution.”

This resonates strongly with the increasing global support from scientists, governments, private sector and civil society for integrated solutions such as NbS for climate change

The discussions also pointed to the multiple social, environmental, and economic benefits provided by NbS to climate change. A wide range of stakeholders, especially vulnerable local communities, can enjoy the benefits of NbS, making these solutions more attractive than their grey infrastructure counterparts.  

Watch a full recording of the webinar above and on IIED’s YouTube channel 

Mobilising finance for NbS for climate change 

Innovative financing to get money where it matters is one of the most important building blocks for NbS. Chip Cunliffe, sustainable development director for multinational insurance company AXA XL, highlighted the need for blended finance from public and private sectors. He said: “It is key that we start to build the right narrative that highlights the values of natural capital to engage possible investors and try to drive down existing barriers for financing NbS at scale.”

Cunliffe established and manages AXA XL’s Ocean Risk Initiative. AXA XL co-chairs the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, a multi-sector collaboration designed to drive 500 million dollars investment in NbS in coastal regions by 2030.

Alliance partners are piloting innovative finance products to fund NbS at scale. These include blue carbon credits; resilience credits that allow companies to invest in restoration and conservation to reduce climate risks; corporate bonds where corporates can borrow money to manage and maintain natural capital while providing benefits for biodiversity and local communities; and insurance products that explicitly integrate natural capital and incentivise working with nature to mitigate climate risks. 

Participants also shared other financing models and emphasised the importance of finance reaching local communities, which are bearing the brunt of climate change impacts and are key for implementing NbS. Examples include: educating consumers and creating demand for diverse eco-friendly products, leveraging forest carbon market to support local communities to sustainably manage forests in Tanzania, and utilising lottery funds to mobilise local communities to implement NbS in the city of Bath in England. 

A word cloud

Click on the word cloud above to expand it. We asked participants to pick up to three words that capture the most important building blocks for translating global ambitions for nature-based solutions for climate change into effective local actions (Image: IIED)

Indigenous peoples and local communities in the driving seat

Indigenous communities around the world have been working with nature to adapt to changes for hundreds of years and are effective  stewards of biodiversity and natural carbon sinks such as forests. Musonda Kapena, CEO of the Zambia National Forest Commodities Association (ZNFCA), said indigenous knowledge systems can provide useful lessons on how to effectively design and implement NbS. ZNFCA has been working with traditional leaders in Zambia to mobilise communities at landscape scale to sustainably produce a wide variety of forest and agriculture products.  

ZNFCA is one of many forest farm producer organisations around the world supported by the Forest and Farm Facility, a partnership between FAO, IUCN, IIED and Agricord. Producers’ organisations such as ZNFCA can mobilise 1.5 million smallholder producers at scale, to drive a paradigm shift away from large-scale monoculture production systems that are vulnerable to climate change.

In supporting local communities working with nature to build more resilient local economy, these locally placed organisations can also support its members to respond and recover from COVID-19 and climate-related risks. 

Webinar participants highlighted the importance of building local capacity to access finance, communicate and share knowledge in ways that capture benefits that matter to local communities, and to ensure secure land and natural resource use rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. Participants shared examples of how they work with local communities to champion NbS around the world, including in ScotlandMaliBermuda and Latin America

Increasing global ambitions to build back better from COVID-19 

Many participants pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought sharp focus on societal vulnerability to systemic and multidimensional risks such as climate change and biodiversity loss. To build back a more resilient society, governments need to ensure global recovery responses tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and protect the most vulnerable. 

Sarah Nelson, head of policy oversight in the international environmental conventions team in DEFRA, highlighted the UK government’s efforts to increase the focus on the interlinkages of nature and climate and push for global ambitions for a green recovery. She said: “Nature will be one of the key themes for COP26 hosted by the UK government. The UK government recognises to achieve success either on tackling climate change or biodiversity loss, we have to tackle both simultaneously.” 

Nelson, who is leading on UK government’s nature theme for the next UN climate summit, said it recognises the important role NbS can play in building back better from COVID-19 (paywalled article). She said that in the lead-up to COP26, the UK aims to develop a ‘nature action pledge’, enabling countries to pledge concrete actions on nature and climate, providing a clear bridge between climate and biodiversity conventions. 

Another immediate opportunity to increase global ambitions on NbS is the post-2020 biodiversity framework, currently being negotiated by parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Speakers called for close engagement with local communities and the finance sector in developing the framework and ensuring effective implementation mechanisms that can mobilise actions to achieve targets. 

“We all need to act!” urged Musonda. As participants from all over the world representing private sector, NGO, communities, government and academia shared inspiring examples and called for close collaboration across sectors and countries, I left the webinar feeling hopeful and inspired for a future where integrated solutions like NbS is the norm rather than the exception. 


This article was originally posted on the IIED website. It has been reposted with permission.
Cover photo by Srecko Skrobic on Unsplash


Press Release: 12-step technical guidance document integrates NbS into project development

Press Release: 12-step technical guidance document integrates NbS into project development

The IDB, in collaboration with Acclimatise, are launching a 12-step technical guidance document to integrate NbS into project development.

A fresh-off-the-press IDB technical guidance document will help LAC-based project developers prepare bankable Nature-based Solutions (NbS) projects that provide a substitute, compliment or safeguard to conventional ‘gray’ infrastructure projects.

Nature based Solutions (NbS) can play a central role in meeting the rising demand for infrastructure, and strengthening the resilience of infrastructure assets. They offer a cost-effective approach to enhance resilience, while providing a range of social and environmental benefits (e.g. recreational opportunities, habitat for biodiversity). In this context, NbS refer to activities associated with the protection, management, enhancement, and restoration of nature and implemented to deliver climate resilient infrastructure. This could refer to re-forestation activities for erosion control, coral reef restoration for coastal protection, and green space creation for stormwater runoff control in densely populated urban areas.

There is a high awareness of the benefits and services that NbS can provide, yet significantly less implementation within the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) context. Their potential remains largely untapped due to a number of barriers that prevent mainstreaming NbS into project development. Some of these barriers are upstream, for example, the lack of NbS incorporation into infrastructure policy and planning documents, or a lack of financial instruments to finance NbS. Other barriers are further downstream: these include, the challenges of defining the business case and accessing finance and funding, and the lack of adequate data, methods, and tools to incorporate NbS into project development.

In tackling some of these downstream challenges, the IDB, in collaboration with Acclimatise, have released a 12-step technical guidance document to integrate NbS into project development. The Guidance is targeted to planners, engineers, architects, contractors and operators interested in preparing bankable climate resilient projects that incorporate NbS either as a substitute, complement or safeguard to conventional infrastructure projects.

How was the guidance developed?

Figure 1: The twelve step process, and two cross-cutting themes, for integrating NbS into project development

In September 2019, the IDB convened a workshop with a range of LAC-based project developers and international experts with experience in NbS implementation (e.g. Deltares, World Bank, World Resources Institute, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). As LAC as a whole is early stages of NbS implementation, the IDB considered it opportune to leverage lessons learned from other parts of the world where NbS is more mainstream in project development, for example the Netherlands. At the workshop, the NbS experts iterated a preliminary technical guidance document that was drafted based on a review of LAC and international literature. The experts iterated the early stage draft and helped answer important questions such as ‘is this how it works in practice?’ ‘what steps or processes still need to be incorporated in this document?’, ‘what are the important LAC-specific elements that must be included?’.

The NbS experts shared their experiences and insights which were incorporated in the document, both at the workshop and throughout an extensive review in the months after.  The end product is the result of a participatory process incorporating multiple iterations with field experts, and should be considered a reference (or “go-to”) document for project developers interested in developing NbS projects in LAC, and globally.

The Techincal Guidance Document is available in English and in Spanish and can be accessed here*

*link to be provided when available


Cover photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash
New IDB-UNEP report uncovers  barriers and opportunities to scale private sector investment in nature-based solutions to deliver climate resilient infrastructure

New IDB-UNEP report uncovers barriers and opportunities to scale private sector investment in nature-based solutions to deliver climate resilient infrastructure

A collaborative project between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Acclimatise, and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), has explored the barriers to, and opportunities for, increasing private-sector uptake of NbS in the infrastructure sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While the value of Nature-based Solutions (Nbs) to society is well understood, particularly by the conservation community, the adoption of NbS for sustainable infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) remains low. At a time where infrastructure investments are crucial in keeping up with economic and population growth, it is especially vital that LAC explores multifunctional solutions, like NbS, to help build climate-resilient infrastructure in the face of a changing climate.

Four findings have emerged and include:

  1. NbS needs to be better mainstreamed into policy, legislation, and regulations
  2. Project developers in LAC require additional skills, methodologies, tools, and capacity to incorporate NbS into infrastructure projects
  3. Defining the business case is an important first step to build support and secure finance for NbS projects in LAC
  4. There is a need to improve the conditions and scalability of financial instruments suitable for NbS investment in LAC

The project collaborators agree – coordinated action by all those involved with infrastructure development, including policy makers, project developers and financial institutions, is needed to create the enabling conditions for private sector uptake of NbS.

You can access the report here

Acclimatise’s Amanda Rycerz authored the report and recently led a panel discussion event ‘Scaling Private Sector Uptake of Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Resilient Infrastructure’ at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference (COP25). Additionally, she produced an infographic highlighting the benefits of adopting Nbs solutions.


Cover photo by Zeno Thysman on Unsplash