5th July, 10:30am - 12:00pm BST - Natural History Museum (NHM) Lecture Theatre
Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NbSI) & World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Session summary


Session 1, NbS: where are we now, where do we need to be?, set the scene for the conference by reviewing progress made in the field of NbS, where the concept currently sits within policy and practice, where NbS need to be, and how to get them there.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema opened by emphasising the growing recognition that the climate and biodiversity crises are inextricably linked. She highlighted strong alignment between NbS and Ecosystem-based Approaches (EA; defined as the integrated management of land, water, and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way). NbS and EA are complementary and can work in harmony to deliver multiple benefits for climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity loss. But she warned that we must have robust biodiversity and social safeguards for NbS, including that IPLCs must be fully involved in the implementation and design of approaches, and that assessments must be made to avoid tradeoffs with biodiversity.  Elizabeth also stressed the vital importance that NbS should not distract from decarbonization and that climate change cannot be addressed without drastic and immediate reductions in fossil fuels.

All speakers referenced the new multilaterally agreed-upon definition of NbS, adopted at the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in March 2022. This is a significant development that has potential to catalyse the integration of NbS into multilateral policy processes, particularly those of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), noting that NbS is already now included in United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal emphasised the critical importance that the NbS concept be well-defined and formalised, as this will have a positive knock-on effect for implementation tools and policy. He called for the CBD, as the international authority on nature, to embrace the formal adoption of the term NbS and to be global leaders in recognizing NbS as key for building political traction around nature and climate, while ensuring clarity and facilitating parties’ ability to track progress. Stewart Maginnis said that the NbS concept is now ready, with strong enough foundations, to be recognized in the multilateral policy agenda and the Rio Conventions, and that the upcoming COP27 and COP15 present critical opportunities to do so. He also encouraged work to strengthen the NbS concept, with consistent messaging, more documentation of early application, the testing of standards (e.g. the IUCN Global Standard for NbS), improved Measurement, Reporting, and Verification, and development of sustainable finance. Economist Vanessa Perez-Cirera, meanwhile, pointed to the gap in financing for nature and clarified that although carbon markets can play an important role, they are by no means the most important source of finance, and that we must remove harmful subsidy regimes and use new economic thinking for internalising externalities to enact transformative change.

Lastly, Andrea Ledward discussed how international policy can filter down to the national and local policy levels, with examples from the UK. She introduced some of the key tensions around NbS that were discussed in subsequent sessions, such as careful attention to tradeoffs, shared versus separate pots for biodiversity and climate, and concerns around integrity and the commodification of nature not respecting the cultural and spiritual values that nature holds for many IPLCs. Finally, she urged people to maintain political pressure around climate and biodiversity, especially in raising interest and momentum around the CBD COP15.

Key take-homes

  • There is complementarity between the concepts of NbS, Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and Ecosystem Approaches
  • NbS is ready for and useful at the multilateral policy level but tensions exist
  • Potential trade-offs in NbS outcomes need to be considered – the worst kind of trade-off are offsets in place of emissions reductions


  • Josephina Brana's photo

    Josephina Brana

    Vice President and Deputy Lead, Forests at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

    Josefina Braña Varela serves as vice president and deputy lead of the forest team at World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In this capacity, she manages and supports efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation in critical geographies. In addition, Josefina is point on Forest Climate Solutions for the organization, overseeing a multidisciplinary team's mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring our forests remain healthy and abundant.

  • Elizabeth Mrema's photo

    Elizabeth Mrema

    UN Assistant Secretary General & Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
    The role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in achieving the objectives of the Rio Conventions

    For over two decades, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema has held various positions at UNEP, including Director of the Law Division, Deputy Director of the Ecosystems Division, Acting Director of the Corporate Services Division and Executive Secretary of the UNEP/CMS Secretariat. Her work at UNEP has focused on development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, including multilateral environmental agreements at national, regional and international levels.

  • Manuel Pulgar-Vidal's photo

    Manuel Pulgar-Vidal

    Global Leader of Climate & Energy, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
    What have we achieved so far for NbS: key challenges and opportunities

    Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is the Global Leader of Climate & Energy at WWF. He has 35 years of experience in environmental law and policy and served as Minister of the Environment of Peru (2011 to 2016) and President of the Twentieth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - COP20 in 2014. He is chairman of the evaluation council of the French sovereign Green Bonds, a Global Ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience initiatives and a member of the IUCN Global Standard Steering Committee. He has been recognized by the governments of France, Germany and Spain and by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his contribution to the Paris Agreement.

  • Vanessa Perez-Cirera's photo

    Vanessa Perez-Cirera

    Chief Economist at the World Resources Institute (WRI)

    Download slides PDF

    NBS and Net Zero: how new economics thinking help us avoid the confusions and seize the opportunities

    Vanessa is an environmental economist with more than 25 years of experience working on the design and up-take of solutions on the intersect of environment, social development, and equity. Vanessa has worked in government, academia, and civil society. Since 2003, Vanessa worked for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in senior management positions, the last one as Deputy Lead for the Global Climate and Energy Practice. Vanessa is WRI´s new Global Economics Center director.

  • Stewart Maginnis's photo

    Stewart Maginnis

    IUCN Deputy Director General Programme

    Download slides PDF

    NbS in the Multilateral Policy Agenda

    Stewart Maginnis has worked in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation for 35 years. He has lived for extensive periods in Tanzania, Sudan, Ghana and Costa Rica, undertaking conservation fieldwork. He led the development and promotion of “forest landscape restoration” (FLR) – one of the first “purpose-built” Nature-based Solutions - to which over 60 countries have committed more than 210 million hectares under the Bonn Challenge. He and his team at IUCN have worked over the last 12 years on defining and promoting the concept of Nature-based Solutions and supporting its application to climate change, food & water security and disaster risk reduction. He is currently the Deputy Director General of IUCN with responsibility for the IUCN programme of work.

  • Andrea Ledward's photo

    Andrea Ledward

    International Biodiversity and Climate Director at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
    Finance for NBS: levers and impact

    Andrea is the International Biodiversity and Climate Director at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Her responsibilities include driving a shift to a nature-positive world: reversing biodiversity loss, restoring ecosystems, tackling climate change and contributing to global poverty reduction. Prior to this she was the UK-focused Natural Environment Director at Defra. She has spent 20 years as a civil servant. During 8 years in the Department for International Development she led the Climate and Environment Department, managed the UK’s £3.87bn International Climate Finance portfolio and represented the UK on the Green Climate Fund Board.

  • Stephanie Roe's photo
    Co-chair - Q&A

    Stephanie Roe

    Global Climate Lead Scientist at WWF, Lead Author IPCC AR6 WGIII

    Dr. Stephanie Roe is the Global Climate Lead Scientist at WWF, working to advance the science, leadership and progress on climate mitigation and adaptation, the climate and nature nexus, and nature-based solutions. She is also a Lead Author of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report on Climate Change Mitigation, and serves on the SBTi Scientific Advisory Group. Her research focuses on biosphere-atmosphere dynamics, climate mitigation, the role of land and nature in climate pathways, and the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change.