Nature-based Solutions (NbS): A Public Good for Resilient Infrastructure Transition

Day 2, 5 May 2022, 1530 - 1700 IST

Session Annotation

The session will focus on addressing solutions for accelerating nature-based solutions (NbS) in resilient infrastructure transitions. The three core issues identified for this discussion are (1) NbS as a means to people-centered resilient infrastructure development; (2) institutional mechanisms, policies, and standards for NbS; (3) partnerships for multistakeholder and cross-sectoral integration. The session will present learning from  case studies of NbS implementation and explore solutions and way forward for actioning integration of NbS as a public good for effective risk-informed transition of infrastructure assets and systems. 

Session Overview   

Confronted with complex challenges of closing the infrastructure gap, strengthening disaster and climate resilience, and ensuring carbon-neutrality, NbS offers multiple advantages and co-benefits over conventional grey infrastructure systems. Numerous cases highlight that NbS has the potential to either complement, substitute, or safeguard1 grey infrastructure systems while dealing with contextual variations and uncertainties in specific geographies. 

Even though NbS has gained a lot of traction, national intentions and policies to bolster it are yet to be properly translated into targets and actions on the ground. This would require data, scientific and evidence-based approaches, that would capture not only economic, but also social and environmental benefits, thus securing a holistic view of Return on Investments (RoI). 

Furthermore, only a few countries have adopted national standards for the application of NbS across infrastructure systems and sectors. The absence of national standards and policies for NbS, makes certifications challenging, creating uncertainty for the integration of NbS into public and private investment projects. In addition, the lack of business and market cases for integration and acceleration of NbS in infrastructure systems as a public good, makes private and public investment weak and uncertain. 

Often, implementation of large-scale grey infrastructure systems is dissonant with the environmental and social systems of a region. The question then is - how can NbS be instrumental in attaining people-centered resilient infrastructure and services while adding economic, social, and environmental value? 

Given the deeper integration of infrastructure systems in the future, NbS has the potential to accelerate adaptation efforts by affording more natural adaptation pathways to reduce cascading risks across sectors. However, NbS is still observed to be a solution fostering the resilience of independent infrastructure systems on a project-to-project basis. The multipurpose and multivalued benefits that NbS may provide have yet to be valorised. This will require stronger cooperation and multistakeholder engagement across sectors along with the development of benchmarks and metrics that are universally recognised.

Considering the potential for NbS to be an instrumental component of realising infrastructure transition with enhanced engagement of local stakeholders, this session will focus on the following: 

  1. How can NbS be instrumental in attaining people-centered resilient infrastructure development and services? - balancing the needs of people, environment, and infrastructure development for improved quality of life and well-being.
  2. What institutional mechanisms, policies and standards will be required to ensure integration of NbS in infrastructure transitions? – data, evidence-based approach, education & training, performance metrics/ standards, ROI in infrastructure lifecycle.
  3. What financial incentives, mechanisms and policies will be required for developing a compelling business and market case for the integration of NbS as a public good within infrastructure transitions, thus fostering resilience?
    • How can NbS shape the equity value of investments for traditional grey infrastructure systems?
  4. What inter-sectoral collaborations and institutional partnerships are needed for multistakeholder cooperation to mainstream NbS in infrastructure development?