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Nature-based solutions in coastal areas can help address global crises: WGS Report

15 November 2022


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A report released by the World Government Summit (WGS) Organisation focuses on introducing working Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to address the harmful effects of climate change in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), African, and East Asian countries.

The research – done in partnership with advisory firm PwC – pointed to the “moral duty” of local and global legislators to provide a resilient future for the next generation, given the unprecedented crisis of natural environment ecosystems in coastal areas, including mangroves, coral and oyster reefs, and seagrass meadows.

Launched in conjunction with the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in the Arab Republic of Egypt, the "Frontiers of Change: How Nature-Based Solutions in Coastal Areas can Help Address Global Crises" report examines how coastal ecosystems provide a wide range of benefits for our planet and humankind.

Through a series of case studies led by governments in East Asia, Africa and the GCC, the research makes the case for how NbS offer a unique, low-tech and cost-effective opportunity to tackle current and future global crises.

The report also explains that If implemented cohesively and in an integrated manner, NbS can address multiple overlapping challenges simultaneously, as they can help mitigate climate change, reverse biodiversity loss, help prevent future pandemics and support economic development. “By putting in place the right policies and enabling conditions, governments can play a crucial role in unleashing the potential of these solutions,” the report added.

The paper calls on Governments to prioritise NbS as a way to tackle key global crises, integrating them into national development planning across government departments, not just environment ministries, and considering economic development through an NbS lense. Furthermore, a fundamental reset of how governments value the natural environment is required to recalibrate national spending priorities, and the full value of ecosystem services should be calculated to allow transparent cost comparisons between NbS and traditional approaches.

Additionally, the report highlighted that regional and international collaboration is mandatory, especially as ecosystems often cross-national boundaries, and are affected by both public and private sector actions. “NbS are an important means for governments to meet their international obligations, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Paris Climate Accord), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also offer the private sector regeneration opportunities to help address their moral and corporate social responsibilities, and to be held accountable on some of their ESG obligations.”

Mohamed Yousef Al Sharhan, Deputy Managing Director of WGS Organisation, stressed that the Summit consolidated its global scientific status as an integrated government knowledge platform, keen on promoting collaboration with think-tanks and global institutions to enhance the use of advanced technology and future sciences in building a new framework for developing global communities.

Al Sharhan noted that launching the report is part of Summit’s efforts to enable governments to foresee challenges in various sectors and design proactive solutions, thus contributing to enhancing their readiness for the future, while developing effective strategies aiming to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change and balance between economic growth and environmental stability, while actively participate in the development of new initiatives and programs that provide a whole-of-society opportunity model integrated for the future growth.

Andrew Thurley, Senior Director of Economics and Sustainability, PwC Middle East, said, “Increasingly, and thankfully, environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are at the top of both public and private-sector agendas. As the momentum behind ESG as a force for positive and lasting change continues to grow, we will see a growing demand for NbS initiatives, both from policy-makers and capital markets. Governments and the private sector should work together to implement and scale up a green recovery. The solutions can address social and economic distress in the short-term, drive economic, humanitarian and environmental recovery in the medium-term and ultimately build a more robust and sustainable foundation to weather global crises in the future.”

The report also presents practical checklists for the national governments to consider. “First, encourage partnerships among government, businesses, NGOs and local communities to find common goals that can be delivered by projects. Second, invest in research to gather data about the value provided by NbS and promote knowledge sharing, and finally, ensure local community engagement as a critical part of the process,” the report explained.

Amjad Saleh