Can nature based solutions deliver on their promise?

There is huge interest from policy makers, industry and NGOs in ‘nature based solutions’ (NBS). This concept refers to activities that involve harnessing natural processes in ways that provide benefits both for human wellbeing and for biodiversity, with examples including the protection, restoration or construction of wetlands, green roofs in cities, or tree planting in and around cities to absorb floodwaters.

However, while the idea has been greeted with enthusiasm by many, it has also attracted strong criticism from others. Concerns include the fact that NBS projects may be poorly implemented, or that they have been co-opted by corporate interests, in ways that both over-simplify and commodify nature. In particular, in the context of climate change and the focus on net zero, there are fears that NBS simply becomes another form of carbon credit, linked to carbon trading schemes which serve as offsets of dubious quality and which also distract from the need to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Additionally, by relying on simplistic approaches such as get-rich-quick planting of fast growing tree monocultures, so-called nature based solutions make the nature crisis worse rather than better. An equally strong criticism is that NBS are often implemented without involving – and even at the expense of – local communities and Indigenous Peoples, who, in the name of nature restoration, may be displaced from their lands. Finally, what about food? We need land for nature, for people to live on – and crucially, we also need it for producing food. So what does a NBS solution look like when it takes the human need for food security into account?

Join TABLE for a panel discussion on 31 October at 5pm GMT to bring together speakers who look at NBS from different perspectives. More information here: