3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation

June 17, 2020 by  
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3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation Jonathan Cook Wed, 06/17/2020 – 00:30 This article originally was published in World Resources Institute . In Indonesia, climate change is already a pernicious threat. More than 30 million people across northern Java suffer from coastal flooding and erosion related to more severe storms and sea level rise. In some places, entire villages and more than a mile of coastline have been lost to the sea. The flooding and erosion are exacerbated by the destruction of natural mangrove forests. These forests absorb the brunt of waves’ impact, significantly reducing both the height and speed of waves reaching shore. And mature mangroves can store nearly 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare, thus mitigating climate change while also helping communities adapt. Without mangroves, 18 million more people worldwide would suffer from coastal flooding each year (an increase of 39 percent). That’s why in Demak, Java, a diverse group of residents, NGOs, universities and the Indonesian government are working together on the “Building with Nature” project to restore a 12-mile belt of mangroves . The project, managed by Wetlands International, already has improved the district’s climate resilience, protecting communities from coastal flooding and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Nature-based solutions are an underused climate adaptation strategy Java isn’t the only place where nature-based solutions can make a difference. Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Coastal wetlands can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise. Well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides. Green space in cities can alleviate heat stress and reduce flooding. While we don’t yet have a full accounting of this potential, we do know that, for instance, wetland ecosystems cover about 8 percent of the planet’s land surface and the ecosystem services they provide — including flood protection, fisheries habitat and water purification — are worth up to $15 trillion . For example, offshore fisheries in areas with mangroves provide fishermen with an average of 271 pounds of fish (worth about $44) per hour, compared to an average of 40 pounds (only $2 to $3 per hour in places without mangroves). Yet despite nature’s ability to provide vast economic and climate resilience benefits, many countries are not fully using nature-based solutions for adaptation, according to research by the U.N. Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) produced for the Global Commission on Adaptation. Of 167 Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement, just 70 include nature-based adaptation actions; the majority of those are in low-income countries. The Global Commission on Adaptation is working with leading organizations and countries, including the governments of Canada, Mexico and Peru, the Global Environment Facility and the U.N. Environment Program, to scale these approaches globally through its Nature-Based Solutions Action Track . According to the Commission’s Adapt Now report  — which builds on UNEP-WCMC’s research — three crucial steps are needed to make this happen: 1. Raise understanding of the value of nature Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. For example, it can be 2 to 5 times cheaper to restore coastal wetlands than to construct breakwaters ­— artificial barriers typically made out of granite — yet both protect coasts from the impact of waves. The median cost for mangrove restoration is about 1 cent per square foot. This is far less than the often prohibitive cost of most built infrastructure. Mangrove areas yield other benefits, too, as illustrated by the effect on fisheries. In fact, the commission found the total net benefits of protecting mangroves globally is $1 trillion by 2030. While some research of this kind exists, countries often need place-specific assessments to identify the best opportunities to use nature-based solutions for adaptation. Governments also should consider that local and indigenous communities often have ample understanding of nature’s value for people, and should seek out and include this knowledge in plans and policies. The success of the “Building with Nature” project, for example, relied on the full involvement of local residents. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. 2. Embed nature-based solutions into climate adaptation planning Nature-based solutions often work best when people use them at larger scales — across whole landscapes, ecosystems or cities. Governments are often best placed to plan climate adaptation at this scale given their access to resources and ability to make policy and coordinate among multiple actors. To be successful, they should include nature-based solutions in their adaptation planning from the start. Mexico’s approach to water management highlights how one way this can be achieved. Water supplies are especially vulnerable to climate change, as shifting rainfall patterns cause droughts in some places and floods in others. Mexico is proactively protecting its water on a national scale by designating water reserves in more than one-third of the country’s river basins. These protected areas and wetlands cover nearly 124 million acres and ensure a secure water supply for some 45 million people downstream. This approach can work in many other places. Research on cities’ water supplies shows that by conserving and restoring upstream forests, water utilities in the world’s 534 largest cities could better regulate water flows and collectively save $890 million in treatment costs each year. 3. Encourage investment in nature-based solutions Communities and countries often cite access to funding as a barrier to implementing nature-based solutions, and to climate adaptation efforts overall. But, as UNEP-WCMC highlights, governments can spur investment in these approaches by reorienting their policies, subsidies and public investments. They can also better incentivize private investors to finance adaptation projects. Many governments, private sector and philanthropic actors have funds that could be used for nature-based adaptation solutions — but a lack of awareness has hindered their widespread use. Part of the solution is helping communities and countries better understand what funding opportunities exist, learn from successful financing models and identify gaps that could be filled by interested donor countries, development institutions and private investors — an effort the commission is undertaking. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Canada’s $1.6 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is one example of a public financing approach. This fund helps communities manage risks from floods, wildfires, droughts and other natural hazards by providing investments in both green (nature-based) and gray (built) infrastructure. Much like the mangroves in Indonesia, Canada has its own coastal wetlands that protect its coasts from sea level rise. The fund recently invested $20 million into a project that is restoring salt marshes and improving levees along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Once complete, the Bay of Fundy project will reduce coastal flooding that affects tens of thousands of residents, including indigenous communities, as well as World Heritage sites and more than 49,000 acres of farmland. Protecting nature protects people The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. They provide food, fuel and livelihoods; sustain cultural traditions; and offer health and recreation benefits. Many of these solutions actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, serving as climate mitigation strategies as well . They also provide critical habitat for biodiversity. The Global Commission on Adaptation is establishing a group of frontrunner countries, cities and communities to highlight successes, stimulate greater commitments and increase attention to nature’s underappreciated role in climate adaptation. By taking these steps to scale up nature-based solutions, we can realize the potential of nature to advance climate adaptation and protect those most likely to be affected by climate change. Pull Quote Countries around the world can harness the power of nature to adapt to climate impacts. Policymakers need to better understand the value of natural capital such as mangroves and other ecosystems that provide important benefits for communities. The benefits of nature-based solutions go far beyond climate adaptation. From the heart of the city to vast forests and coastal wetlands, healthy ecosystems underpin societies and economies. Topics Risk & Resilience Risk Nature Based Solutions Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Scenic path on mangrove forest at Bama Beach in the Baluran National Park, a forest preservation area on the north coast of East Java, Indonesia Shutterstock Ivan Effendy Halim Close Authorship

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3 keys for scaling nature-based solutions for climate adaptation

Savvy city planners will be tomorrow’s climate heroes

November 8, 2017 by  
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Too much of today’s conversation focuses on energy generation rather than urban design, land-use planning and zoning interventions.

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Savvy city planners will be tomorrow’s climate heroes

Sierra Club’s Michael Brune keeps it real on energy

November 8, 2017 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. In this episode: Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, says “we’ve turned a corner.”

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Sierra Club’s Michael Brune keeps it real on energy

Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

October 25, 2017 by  
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For the first time, rice grown in diluted saltwater has yielded a crop sufficient enough to be commercially viable, according to a new study by Chinese scientists . The research team led by agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, also known as China’s “father of hybrid rice,” planted 200 types of rice in spring in the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province and then subsequently tested their resilience to saline-alkali soil and diluted saltwater; four types of rice showed particular promise. If successful on a large scale, these salt-resistant rice varieties could turn previously non-arable space into productive agricultural land. In order to test the rice’s resilience in saline-alkali environments, the scientists pumped in saltwater from the Yellow Sea, on which Qingdao is located. The seawater was first diluted to achieve a salinity level of .3 percent, then gradually increased to .6 percent. Although researchers expected only an output of around 4.5 tons per hectare, “the test results greatly exceeded our expectations,” according to Liu Shiping, a professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University. The four mentioned rice varieties ultimately produced yields of 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare. While some wild varieties of rice are known to survive in salty environments, they typically only yield 1.125 to 2.25 tons per hectare. Related: 7 plants that could save the world Increased yield from salt-resilient varieties of rice could have significant economic benefits. “If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilograms per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort,” said Yuan. “Farmers will have an incentive to grow the rice if we can double the yield.” The current 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil in China, one-fifth of which could be cultivated with the right crop, also may experience significant change as farmers move onto previously unusable land. Salt-resilient rice would prove to be an asset for South and Southeast Asia as well, regions where millions of hectare are left unused due to high salinity. The team plans to refine its rice varieties and growing techniques, so that salt-resilient rice may soon become a supplemental extension of the region’s staple crop. Via Xinhua / South China Morning Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

Tasmanian Devils are rapidly evolving to fight cancer

September 1, 2016 by  
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In the quest to conquer cancer , scientists have turned to the natural world for effective solutions. In this case, the details may be in the Devil. An international team of researchers has learned that two specific sections of the Tasmanian Devil genome are changing rapidly in response to the spread of devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). The genetic data compiled by the researchers will be used to help protect the Tasmanian Devil from extinction while providing insight into treatment for humans. “Our study suggests hope for the survival of the Tasmanian devil in the face of this devastating disease ,” said researcher Andrew Storfer. “Ultimately, it may also help direct future research addressing important questions about the evolution of cancer transmissibility and what causes remission and reoccurrence in cancer and other diseases.” The Tasmanian Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world and is found in the wild only on the Australian island state of Tasmania. It is named for its aggressive behavior against outsiders and fellow Devils. Through this peer-to-peer violence, DFTD may be spread. One of only three types of transmissible cancer, DFTD has wiped out nearly eighty percent of the Tasmanian Devil population in the twenty years since it was discovered. As Dr. Ian Malcolm once so eloquently put it, life finds a way  and some Devils have evolved to endure against this threat. Related: Australian state announces the country’s first permanent ban on fracking The researchers were inspired to explore genetic explanations when some individuals in disease-ravaged populations endured despite scientific models predicting their demise. “If a disease comes in and knocks out 90 percent of the individuals, you might predict the 10 percent who survive are somehow genetically different,” said study co-author Paul Hohenlohe. “What we were looking for were the parts of the genome that show that difference.” The team discovered that two specific genomic regions, which contained genes that are connected to the immune system  and cancer, demonstrated significant changes in the surviving populations. In addition to identifying the specific function for these genes, the researchers hope to use this information to increase genetic diversity and resilience within the Tasmanian Devil population. Via Phys.org Images via Chen Wu/Flickr  and  Greg Schechter/Flickr  

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Tasmanian Devils are rapidly evolving to fight cancer

The Paris Agreement: What’s in this historic deal

December 14, 2015 by  
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The agreement reached by 196 countries at the COP21 meeting in Paris is a turning point towards a climate solution. Here are the details of the pact.

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The Paris Agreement: What’s in this historic deal

New report shows Scandinavian countries are best-prepared for the effects of climate change

February 5, 2015 by  
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Worried about rising water levels, increased frequency and strength of storms as well as other potential natural disasters? Well, according to the latest  Global Adaptation Index  (GAIN) report, which ranks more than 175 countries based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness, you would be better off moving to Scandanavia—specifically Norway and Sweden.  Read the rest of New report shows Scandinavian countries are best-prepared for the effects of climate change Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , climate change prepareness , GAIN report , Global Adaptation Index , global warming , norway , Scandanavia , University of Notre Dame , University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index

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New report shows Scandinavian countries are best-prepared for the effects of climate change

Which Country is the Most Prepared for Climate Change?

November 24, 2014 by  
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The University of Notre Dame recently released the 2014 installment of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index ( ND-GAIN .) ND-GAIN shows “which countries are best prepared to deal with the national security risks, droughts, superstorms and other natural disasters that climate change can cause.” More than just a simple ranking list, the index also tracks the progress of countries’ preparedness over the last 18 years, and allows users to run ‘what if’ analyses for various situations. Hit the jump to see which countries came out on top, who stands to lose out – and why. Read the rest of Which Country is the Most Prepared for Climate Change? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2014 , adaptability , adaptation , Africa , chad , Climate Change , development , global warming , infrastructure , interactive map , ND-GAIN , norway , Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index , resilience , scandinavia , University of Notre Dame

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Texas Students’ ADAPT Home Design Puts Abundant Desert Sunlight To Good Use

July 9, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Texas Students’ ADAPT Home Design Puts Abundant Desert Sunlight To Good Use Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adaptation , Architecture , Department of Energy , Design , el paso , net zero , Solar Decathlon , solar panels , Solar Power , texas , university of texas        

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Texas Students’ ADAPT Home Design Puts Abundant Desert Sunlight To Good Use

Atelier CMJN Unveils Plans for Sustainable Great Fen Visiting Center in the UK

April 29, 2013 by  
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Atelier CMJN recently unveiled plans for the new Great Fen Visitor Center , a wooden sustainable structure set halfway between the wetlands and dry lands in Cambridgeshire , UK. The organic shelter is made from locally sourced wood and takes advantage of wind power, a water heat pump and rainwater collection. Read the rest of Atelier CMJN Unveils Plans for Sustainable Great Fen Visiting Center in the UK Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , adaptation , Architecture , Atelier CMJN , Cambridgeshire , Daylighting , eolic turbine , fen , Great Fen Visiting Center , green interiors , green materials , organic architecture , rainwater collection        

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Atelier CMJN Unveils Plans for Sustainable Great Fen Visiting Center in the UK

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