The British Academy marks COP26 Nature Day with briefings and digital maps outlining potential benefits of nature-based solutions

6 Nov 2021

Marking COP26 Nature Day, the British Academy has published two briefings and supported two digital maps examining how nature-based solutions can help address the climate and biodiversity crises, contribute to human wellbeing and help build an inclusive and sustainable economy.

Nature-based solutions are interventions that help protect, sustainably manage, and restore ecosystems while at the same time benefitting human wellbeing and biodiversity. Examples include restoring natural habitats such as woodlands to better absorb carbon dioxide and building floating rafts out of plant material which can then be used to grow vegetables in waterlogged areas during monsoon season.

The Academy has supported the publication of two interactive digital maps – in partnership with the Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NbSI) at the University of Oxford and the Environmental Science and Policy Department of Central European University (CEU) – which show rural and urban case studies of nature-based solutions that have been successfully developed worldwide. Presenting nature-based solutions in cities, the Urban Nature Atlas profiles in detail over 1,000 projects from European cities and beyond. The NbSI platform (which will launch fully on 8 November) is an interactive global map of best-practice nature-based solutions in rural and coastal areas.

Alongside the digital maps, the Academy has published three briefings exploring the role of nature-based solutions:

The briefings follow a series of web-based workshops convened by the British Academy in 2021 which brought together researchers, policymakers, indigenous communities and third sector organisations to discuss the value and challenges associated with nature-based solutions.

Professor Harriet Bulkeley FBA, Professor of Geography at the University of Durham, said:

“With the fight against climate change at a critical moment, and time running out to limit the adverse impacts of global warming, as a society we need to draw on every tool at our disposal. These timely briefings demonstrate the real-world benefits of nature-based solutions and outline some of the challenges associated with their development.

“We have also published two digital maps providing rural and urban examples of nature-based solutions in action. These maps arose from a series of workshops organised by the British Academy over the summer of 2021 which brought together scholars, practitioners and policymakers as well as indigenous communities, businesses and civil society organisations to help map nature-based solutions worldwide. These discussions, along with the sharing of case studies and experiences, have provided valuable sources for these platforms, developed by partners at the NbSI and CEU, highlighting the diversity and value of nature-based solutions.”

Professor László Pintér, Central European University and International Institute for Sustainable Development, said:

“Nature-based solutions have the potential to transform cities and make them more liveable and resilient to the impacts of climate change. The new cases added to the Urban Nature Atlas from cities worldwide, including many examples identified by participants attending the British Academy workshops, illustrates that this potential is real and present in a wide range of contexts, and should serve as an inspiration for the research, policy and practitioner community.”

Professor Nathalie Seddon, Nature-based Solutions Initiative, said:

"This new platform of global best-practice nature-based solutions showcases the different ways of working with nature to address societal challenges. The rural case studies encompass a wide range of actions, such as the protection and management of natural ecosystems and the application of nature-based principles to agricultural systems. The studies also highlight what can be achieved with high-quality nature-based solutions that are underpinned by biodiversity, and designed and implemented with the full engagement and consent of local communities and indigenous people.”

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