Study finds that national and international frameworks are imperative to implement nature-based solutions in Asia

The Challenges of Implementing Nature-Based Solutions in AsiaCross-sectoral strategies and coordination between fragmented institutions and actors are essential for the implementation of NBS in Asia. Credit: Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan

Recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the term “nature-based solutions” (NbS) refers to those that combine human well-being, environmental sustainability and biodiversity benefits. . NbS are also key components of COVID-19 post-pandemic recovery strategies. NBS include a variety of elements, ranging from ecosystem-based climate change mitigation to ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction measures. While the techniques underlying NBS may not be new, integrating them into national and international governance frameworks for their effective implementation is.

Most studies on NbS focus on Europe. The European Union was an early adopter of the NbS and promoted it by linking the NbS to the European Green Deal and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The region has established strong links between the NbS and various actors (governments, institutions, companies, etc.). But the same cannot be said of Asia. There remains a lack of a coherent regional strategy for the implementation of NBS in Asia, as well as limited cross-sectoral local and national governance to promote NbS and green recovery strategies. The large number of developing countries in Asia also presents a problem for the promotion and realization of NBS.

In a new study published in Policy and governance, researchers Dr. Kanako Morita from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute and Associate Professor Ken’ichi Matsumoto from Toyo University, Japan elaborated on the governance challenges of implementing NbS in the East, Southeast and South Asian regions. “Implementing NbS governance in countries at different stages of economic development is tricky, as is crafting NbS measures with different institutions and actors,” says Dr. Morita.

Findings from their study indicated that climate change mitigation, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and infrastructure are three areas where NBS have been widely implemented in Asian countries. These areas are also linked to climate security issues, including ecological security. However, further work is possible, particularly to ensure uniformity of NbS implementation across various regions. “Current discussions on NbS governance focus on urban areas, but Nbs are essential across a wide range of landscapes and seascapes and across jurisdictional boundaries. In developing countries in particular, international cooperation is necessary in the governance of NBS”, observes Dr Morita, in this context.

The researchers found that the NbS have links to international frameworks linked to the UNFCCC and the CBD in the field of climate change (climate change mitigation), with clear national strategies, policies and international financial mechanisms. The Paris Agreement is one of the main drivers of this development. Unfortunately, however, discussions on cross-sectoral strategies, such as the application of NbS to post-pandemic green recovery, have so far not been extensive in Asian countries.

In the field of DRR, the SNBs are linked to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). Japan, in particular, is heavily invested in promoting ecosystem-based DRR (Eco-DRR). But the same cannot be said for other Asian countries. While some countries have integrated Eco-DRR into their national strategies, national governance and implementation measures remain weak. Financial mechanisms for integrating NBS into eco-DRR need to be developed and clarified. Moreover, developing countries in particular need financial and technical support to properly implement NBS for eco-DRR.

Finally, the researchers found no official link between the NbS and international frameworks in the field of infrastructure. “There is no consensus on what NbS means for infrastructure. It is therefore very difficult to establish national policies or frameworks and, more importantly, financial mechanisms for the implementation of NbS,” explains Dr Morita.

Taken together, the study highlights the fragmentation of institutions and actors in Asia, and the unique challenges this poses for different types of NBS. The study also highlights the need for cooperation between local, national and international actors, including governments and institutions. “Our analysis recognizes the need for a cross-sectoral framework to address the need for NbS with relevant actors and institutions at different scales. We also recommend creating guidelines to integrate and promote NbS into local and national policies, as well as in international cooperation”, concludes Dr Morita.

Implementing these suggestions will surely help to deal with the reality of climate change, as well as provide benefits for biodiversity and humans, both in the short term, post-pandemic, and with respect to the long-term sustainable development.

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More information:
Kanako Morita et al, Governance Challenges for Implementing Nature-Based Solutions in the Asian Region, Policy and governance (2021). DOI: 10.17645/pag.v9i4.4420

Provided by the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute

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