Planting trees, restoring wetlands, mangroves and other natural ways to protect the environment from the impacts of the climate crisis could save hundreds of billions of dollars a year and replace high-carbon infrastructure. , as he has found.
Planting trees helps protect the land from floods and landslides, mangroves protect sea level rise and storm surges, and wetlands act as sponges to absorb excess water. These forms of “natural infrastructure,” or nature-based solutions, have the added benefit of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as natural carbon sinks.
But these natural alternatives to built infrastructure, such as dams and flood barriers, are often neglected and lack funding.
An investigation released Monday by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) found that using natural infrastructure to protect itself from climate damage could save up to $ 248 billion (£ 180 billion). per year worldwide, costing only half of the equivalent built infrastructure and delivery. the same protection.
Nature-based solutions are also often cheaper to maintain, while creating local jobs and additional benefits, such as helping clean up air and water pollution, improving wildlife habitats, and restoring natural ecosystems. Mangroves, for example, are used as a nursery for fish, for the benefit of local fishing, and attract other wildlife, but about a third of them have been broken or damaged worldwide in recent decades in the development research.
More than $ 4 billion in new infrastructure is needed worldwide each year, more than a tenth of which could be met with nature-based solutions, according to the report.
The construction of new infrastructure to protect against the ravages of global warming – in the form of heat waves, droughts, floods, rising sea levels and fiercer storms – is now urgent, because the extreme climate is consolidating all over the world. However, there is no funding for adaptation measures, and initiatives such as the restoration of wetlands, peat bogs and other natural features are difficult to fund because the benefits are often diffuse.
Rich countries are supposed to ensure a flow of at least $ 100 billion a year to developing countries in climate finance to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of extreme weather. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for half of these funds to be used for adaptation measures.
The UK government, hosting the Cop26 climate summit opening in Glasgow on 31 October, is highlighting nature-based solutions to the talks, and new funding and a variety of innovative projects.
LISbeth Casier, senior policy adviser at the IISD, said: “Improving adaptation is really important, and nature can play an important role in it. Governments should be more aware of the role that nature can play, but we often do not value natural infrastructures in the same way we do with built ones.This must change.
“Cop26 is putting nature much more at the center of solutions, and we hope this opportunity is seized, as the benefits are manifold.”
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