Natural infrastructure highlighted as a climate resilience solution

Speaking at the event “Nature Based Solutions for Climate Resilience – an EU perspective” held at the IUCN pavilion during COP21 in Paris, Peter White, COO, WBCSD, highlighted that ecosystem services can be used in an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve and expand carbon sinks. At the same time, the natural functions of ecosystems can support human life in the face of the negative effects of climate change, such as heat waves, floods, drought etc. Both approaches seek to increase the resilience of ecosystems and thereby to the provisioning of important services, for example coastal and flood protection, water filtration, soil fertility, air quality, and carbon storage.

Mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services is therefore essential to ensure that their values can be taken into account in decision-making and integrated across policies and sectors. Businesses increasingly realize that they depend directly or indirectly on environmental resources (or natural capital) in many ways, and are trying to preserve natural capital to reduce their exposure to risk. For example, creating or restoring wetlands on the banks of rivers and streams can both increase biodiversity and be more cost-effective than stormwater control measures created with gray infrastructure. Oyster reefs, another NI solution, can reduce coastal erosion and protect businesses from storm surges, while also filtering contaminated seawater and supporting local fisheries.