Nature-based solutions to development needs
- The efficacy of nature-based solutions strongly supports their being central to post-2015 sustainable development goals.
- The EU is mainstreaming biodiversity in environment and development policy.
- Biodiversity is high on the German development agenda.
- Partnerships and local input are key to making the most of funding and generating optimal outcomes.
Luc Bas, Director at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) EU office, began with a short history of IUCN, which is the world’s largest global environmental organisation with more than 1,200 member organisations in 160 countries. He explained their concept of human dependency on nature as valuing nature’s contribution to people’s livelihoods.
The IUCN are calling for nature-based solutions to water, food and energy security, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and development to be integral to sustainable development goals, and fully embedded in the post-2015 framework.
Julie Raynal from the Biodiversity Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for Environment and her colleague Thierry Dudermel from DG Development and Cooperation then presented the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Biodiversity for Livelihood Initiative (EUBLI).
Emphasising that the agreements reached at COP10 in Nagoya, Japan were valid for a whole network of international conventions, Raynal explained that under its 2050 Vision, the EU is aiming to mainstream biodiversity policy on the basis of its 2010 commitments with a 2020 Headline Target to halt biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, achieve restoration where possible and make a bigger contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.
Searching for synergies between funding of biodiversity and climate change policy and development cooperation, the Commission manages working groups with colleagues from relevant ministries and agencies.
Dudermel focused on EUBLI, a flagship programme funded under the Global Public Goods and Challenges theme of EU development cooperation. The programme – known by some as ‘United in biodiversity’ – aims to fully integrate biodiversity and ecosystem conservation with socio-economic development and poverty eradication in three priority areas: good governance, food security and the green economy along with a specific focus on wildlife crises, in particular in Africa.
Harald Lossack, Head of the Competence Center on Biodiversity, Forests and Natural Resources, German International Cooperation (GIZ), explained that the issue is high on the German development agenda with funding for international biodiversity conservation more than tripling since 2007 to over EUR 500 million annually as of 2013. Germany is also tackling wildlife crime, not only in combatting poaching, but also on the consumer side (reducing demand).
On marine and coastal diversity, Lossack cited an experience in Vietnam to underline that nature-based solutions offer the best coastal protection at the lowest cost by using local resources. The GIZ upscales successes into broader approaches to capacity building known as Blue Solutions. These are, however, not ‘one size fits all’ but a toolbox to suit different contexts.
Pedro Rosabal, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme under the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA), described a joint project with the GIZ, funded by the Commission, as an example of how BIOPAMA works with partners. Shared efforts to implement the Nagoya protocol could lead to enhanced decision-making at national level, he said, but while some regional learnings can be applied elsewhere, others are region-specific. He warned: ‘There’s no magic formula, no way you can impose solutions on people.’ Nevertheless, he concluded, the organisation’s crucial function is providing information to decision-makers to optimise use of reduced funding.
Gretchen Walters, IUCN Programme Officer for its Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, asserted that conscious decisions to use nature as a solution to a problem such as reforestation, restoring drinking water, shoreline protection or food security lead to better outcomes. She recommended bottom-up over top-down approaches for agreeing the best way of restoring an area.
Gretchen Walters demonstrated the necessity of a landscape approach to different land uses, identifying primary and secondary forests, pastures, plantations and intensive agriculture, etc. Mapping needs to be interpreted at a very granular level to be a truly effective tool.
Land, livelihoods & sustainabilityBody:
Despite increasing urbanisation, over 70 % of the world’s poor live in rural areas, with more than 1.3 billion living without access to electricity. Fertile land, clean water and air are all in decline and climate change and biodiversity loss are close to the limits beyond which there are irreversible effects on human society and the natural environment.
The EU therefore seeks to reduce poverty, increase food security, ensure affordable access to energy, prevent land degradation and protect natural resources.
In its Communication on the future of EU development aid, ‘An Agenda for Change, the EU resolved to help insulate developing countries from agriculture and energy shocks – such as scarcity of resources, supply and price volatility – to provide the foundations for sustainable growth, and to ensure poor people have better access to land, food, water and energy without harming the environment.
Following the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, in its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU proposes principles for an overarching framework for post-2015 that would provide a coherent and comprehensive response to the universal challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. To achieve these ambitious objectives, moving globally towards an inclusive green economy is crucial. This encompasses several closely inter-related areas such as land, ecosystems and natural resources management, as well as sustainable energy and trade.
In the same document, the EU stressed the importance of a land degradation neutral world as key to economic growth, biodiversity protection, sustainable forest management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and food security.Image: