Press release | 23 Jul, 2020

IUCN Standard to boost impact of nature-based solutions to global challenges

Gland, Switzerland, 23 July 2020 (IUCN) – IUCN today unveiled a Global Standard providing the first-ever set of benchmarks for nature-based solutions to global challenges. The new IUCN Global Standard will help governments, business and civil society ensure the effectiveness of nature-based solutions and maximise their potential to help address climate change, biodiversity loss and other societal challenges on a global scale.

“The world is looking for durable and effective options to tackle global challenges such as climate change, food and water security, and now, economic recovery from the global pandemic. To this end, the new IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions is ideally placed to harness and accelerate the sustainable use of nature,” said IUCN’s Global Director for the Nature-based Solutions Group Stewart Maginnis. “For nature-based solutions to fulfil their potential, we must ensure that the actions put in place today bring about the desired benefits for society and biodiversity. This Global Standard offers a rigorous, consistent and accountable framework that will help avoid any misuse and take nature-based solutions from the local to global scale.”

The concept of nature-based solutions (NbS) – actions addressing key societal challenges through the protection, sustainable management and restoration of ecosystems, benefiting both biodiversity and human well-being – is increasingly being applied around the world. More than 130 countries have already included NbS actions – such as reforestation, green infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, or coastal protection – in their national climate plans under the Paris Agreement.

However, not all actions labelled as “nature-based solutions” provide the anticipated benefits to both society and biodiversity, and the global potential of NbS is far from being fully realised.

“Until now, there has been neither consensus nor coherent guidance on how to design and implement nature-based solution interventions that are capable of consistent delivery of benefits for people and nature,” said Angela Andrade, Chair of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, which helped lead the development of the Global Standard. “The contribution of the Commission, in addition to input from over 800 experts and practitioners from 100 countries, has been to guide the development of the IUCN Global Standard, ensuring that it is scientifically robust and applicable across a wide range of regions and scenarios.”

The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions has eight criteria and associated indicators that allow the user to assess the aptness, scale, economic, environmental and social viability of an intervention; consider its possible trade-offs; ensure transparency and adaptive project management; and explore possible linkages to international targets and commitments. It consists of a user guide and self-assessment tool, which identifies areas for improving and learning.

The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions can be accessed here.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Matthias Fiechter, IUCN Media Relations – Tel: +41 79 536 01 17, Email:

Notes to editors:

In 2016, the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i adopted a resolution (WCC-2016-Res-069-EN) which, for the first time, defined the use of nature for simultaneous benefits to biodiversity and societal well-being. According to the resolution, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.

Supporting quotes:

Bertrand Walckenaer, Associate Chief Executive Officer, Agence Française de Développement (AFD):
"AFD is convinced that nature-based solutions are paramount for the transition to a development that is reconciled with the planet. We use these approaches as much as possible because they meet the very concrete needs of populations at the local level, and often at a lower cost. The challenge today is to scale these solutions up from experimentation to large implementation. The Standard, which was developed by IUCN and supported by the AFD, provides an opportunity to scale up. It is now time to disseminate it through global development banks, so that as many people as possible mobilize NbS and that their impacts are measured."

Teresa Ribera, Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Spain:
“Spain is convinced of the great potential of nature in climate action and is already working on ensuring that natured based solutions are integrated into our policies to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change / Federal Minister, Pakistan:   
"Nature Based solutions provide a win-win solution for not only nature protection to address global changes such as climate change and biodiversity loss but also are an effective tool for a green economic revival delivering direct benefits to the people.  Pakistan has a post COVID19 “Green Stimulus” and it is no surprise that 70% of it is focused on utilizing nature based solutions - through our 10 Billion Tree Taunami and the Protected areas initiative. Both deliver green jobs for people with nature protection. We welcome the development of NBS standards by IUCN as this will not only unravel the full benefits but also allow effective policy planning based on this much needed tool for mainstreaming nature revival within Government planning."

Hon. Poasi Mataele Tei, Minister for Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications & CERTS (MEIDECC), Tonga:
"In order for us to reach our goals for climate change action we need to ensure that underlying resources, our nature and out people, are not eroded by the very actions we take. Nature-based solutions offer and opportunity to address climate change in a a sustainable manner and using the Global Standards for Nature-based Solutions is the tool we need right now to act on that opportunity. Tonga supports the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions and we look forward to using this new tool."

Vardan Melikyan, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Republic of Armenia:
“Armenia has committed to double its forest cover by 2050, and Nature-based Solutions will be one of the important tools for accomplishing this goal. In May-June 2020 the Government of Armenia employed 1,000 rural residents to restore riparian forests by planting 2 million willow cuttings within 2 weeks, thus addressing socio-economic hardships caused by COVID-19 pandemic, while improving natural habitats.”

A. H. Sarath Wijesinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Wildlife resources, Sri Lanka:
"Sri Lanka is one of the smallest, but biologically most diverse countries in Asia. Despite its small size, Sri Lanka has a varied climate and topography. This has resulted in rich biodiversity distributed within wide range of ecosystems in the country. Sri Lanka’s biodiversity is considered to be the richest per unit area in the Asian region with regard to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and flowering plants. The global importance of the island’s biodiversity has placed Sri Lanka together with the Western Ghats of India among the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world. In order to integrate conservation and sustainable use of the aforesaid rich biodiversity into sectoral and cross sectoral policies and strategies, National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP) has been prepared. The NBSAP is the guiding instrument for the implementation of obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Nature Based Solutions (NBS) is important to implement and achieve the countrie’s national targets identified in the NBSAP. Sri Lanka as a biodiversity hotspot, is proud to be one of the countries to be piloting the IUCN Global Standards for NBS as part of the NBSAP.  Sri Lanka greatly values and appreciates the role, IUCN plays in Sri Lanka in mainstreaming NBS within various development sectors, balancing conservation and development. IUCN Sri Lanka provides this Ministry with valuable information to support NBS adoption in the country. Among others, we intensively use Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility projects in applying NBS in areas described in three Rio Conventions and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction."

Sindgu Prasad Dhungana, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment of Nepal:
"I would like to congratulate IUCN for initiating a series of Nature based Solutions (NbS) events in the run-up to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in January and efforts for preparationand launching of the Global Standard for Nature based Solutions (NbS). It is the right time to act on this in the context of environmental conservation as the world priority is increasing towards green recovery and green economic development in a post-COVID-19 context. Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE), The government of Nepal is also aware of this and already initiated some efforts towards integrating and mainstreaming NbS through our policies and programs, such as National Climate Change Policy, 2019, National Environmental Policy 2019, National Forest Policy 2019, National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020), National Ramsar Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2024) and Forest Sector Strategy (2016-2025). MoFE would like to ensure the support and collaboration for the development and scaling up of Global Standard on NbS."

Emilia Dique Fumo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Land and Environment, Republic of Mozambique:
"The Ministry of Land and Environment is pleased to support the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions and will work with IUCN for effective implementation of standards once adopted. It is in our view that these standards fill a key gap on reporting on progress againsts biodiversity and climate change commitments and it is crucial that monitoring of conservation communit follow standardized procedured or maximizing the sustainability and benefits for our solutions to global challenges. The Global Standard provides a global benchmark for Nature-based Solutions practice and we encourage all governments to join Mozambique in committing to using this approach. It is our expectation that the standards widely applied by the relevant Ministries and organization nationally so that we can have active particiapation and maximize involvement of relevant stakeholders in this very important approach."

Carl Amirgulashvili, Head of Biodiversity and Forestry Department / Deputy Head of UNESCO/MAB National Committee of Georgia:
“We consider the nature-based solutions as key to address the difficult challenges we are facing nowadays, including climate change, disaster risk reduction, food and water security. Therefore, we would like to thank the IUCN for the developing the Global standard. We strongly believe it will greatly assist countries in planning and implementation of the Nature-based Solutions, at the same time contributing to our main goal living in harmony with nature.”

Agron Buxhaku, Director, Crisis Management Centre (CMC) of the Republic of North Macedonia:
“We congratulate IUCN for playing a leadership role in working towards Nature-based Solutions and taking such a comprehensive approach that will ensure collaboration between relevant stakeholders and contribute to raising community awareness that is more than necessary to live in synergy with nature and to ensure the rational use of its resources and capacities. The recently launched ADAPT project, which IUCN implements in the countries of the Western Balkan region, will be an excellent opportunity to begin with practical application of the benefits of Nature-based Solutions in nature conservation and disaster risk reduction measures and activities.”

Yann Wehrling, French Ambassador for the Environment:
The publication of the IUCN standard is very timely and France is convinced that this tool will provide a methodology and an interpretive framework that will not only strengthen the implementation of projects using nature-based solutions, but it will also strengthen their credibility and legitimacy. It is also essential that this standard is used at the political level. France is therefore committed to continuing to promote nature-based solutions and the work of IUCN.

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction:
“One clear benefit of the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions is that it will help to create a greater understanding of the links between disaster risk and the natural world. The scale of exploitation of the earth’s resources is proof that we have a poor grasp of  just how important it is to safeguard protective eco-systems such as forests, vegetation cover on hillsides, coral reefs, and green belts in our polluted cities.  Nature based Solutions must be a key consideration when it comes to strengthening disaster risk governance and this new Global Standard will help to ensure this,” 

Mito Tsukamoto, Head of the Development and Investment (DEVINVEST) Branch, International Labor Organization (ILO):
“Green Works offer the optimum nature-based solutions that addresses both labour market deficiencies and environmental degradation.”

Dalee Sambo Dorough, International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council:
"Recognizing the profound relationship that we Inuit and other Indigenous Peoples have with the natural world and our perspective about being a part of our ecosystems, it is clear that we have much to contribute to understanding Nature Based Solutions. Our collective human rights and our responsibilities to future generations as well as our knowledge can provide significant insights."

Dr Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh:    
“The Global Standard for Nature Based Solutions (NBS) by IUCN is indeed a welcome development for all those who are trying to learn about and implement NBS. In Bangladesh we have developed an NBS Network and this standard will be extremely useful for us going forward.”

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC:
"A large part of the heavy lifting needed to stabilise the planet and human civilisation can be undertaken by nature, alongside radical decarbonisation. There has never been greater political and private sector momentum to invest in nature based solutions. That is why it’s so important that we immediately embed the IUCN Global Standard to ensure a common pathway for evaluating, reporting and scaling up nature’s potential, ensuring all investments are undertaken with ecological and social responsibility, so that we both conserve and protect existing ecosystems and regenerate nature. This is how we will determine the pathway to a clean, green, healthy recovery that will allow us to halve emissions in the next ten years, and create the conditions for human and economic wellbeing at the same time.”

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Global Leader of WWF Climate & Energy:
“There is no shortage of evidence of the impacts of climate on our natural systems, as well as the consequences of nature loss for climate. So the launch of a global standard for nature-based solutions is a very welcome development. We believe it will not only help spotlight nature’s many contributions to societal challenges, including the climate crisis, but also strengthen confidence in the concept of nature-based solutions. We expect the standard will no doubt help with more effective on the ground implementation and link finance to the most valuable projects. It will also facilitate the much needed connection of international and domestic climate and nature commitments and processes in order to mainstream nature-based solutions.”

Tsunao Watanabe, Japanese Committee of IUCN:
"We, the Japan Committee for IUCN, welcome and support the launching of the Global standard for Nature-based Solutions and express congratulations to IUCN and partners for their efforts for development. Nature-based Solutions are key for Japan, in the context of ECO-DRR, Natural Capital, Green Infrastructure, transformative change for sustainable society with and after COVID-19 and post 2020 global framework and its national implementation such as next National biodiversity strategy and action plan toward 2030. The Japan committee for IUCN and its member believe global standards help us a lot as common tools and we are happy to work with IUCN community and partner to use the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions in our working policy and seek the integration of NbS to relevant national policy and conservation activities on the ground."

Rishi Shah, Chairperson Nepalese Committee of IUCN:
"It is my pleasure to know that IUCN has been actively promoting Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and also prepared the Global standard for NbS which is prerequisite for the implementation of NbS. The trend of destructing or exploiting nature in the course of development has been increasing. Therefore, it is very important to conserve nature or give priority to Nature-based Solutions while doing different development activities as well as addressing the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Issues. IUCN Nepal National Committee is well aware of the need of Nature based Solution particularly the country like Nepal and always advocate for it. We have already integrated NbS, particularly Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) and Eco-DRR approaches into our Climate Change Policy 2019 and has also engaged in scaling up NbS through different programmes such as Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) –II. Would be more than happy to support and contribute in the promotion and scaling up of NbS and its standard from the country level."

Ashok Khosla, Chairman Development Alternatives, IUCN India member and former President of IUCN:
“Today’s civilisational problems, which were created by social value systems and technologies that led to lopsided and highly inequitable economic growth, excessive resource extraction and anthropogenic breakdown of global life support systems, cannot be solved by the same kind of approaches and methods.   Mother Nature’s technologies, evolved through four billion years of R&D, namely the biospheric and ecosystem processes that are extraordinarily productive, leave behind zero waste and maintain a homeostasis that is highly resilient to even large perturbations, offer the only sustainable – and also least costly -- solutions for our future.”

Pr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, Professor of Economics, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhakam & Chair, Bangladesh National Committee of IUCN:
"Bangladesh is shaping its journey amidst the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19, exacerbated by the super cyclone Amphan and the flood situation worsening in the northern and central parts of the country in the past few days, causing human tragedy and stumbling the roadmap to recovery. We the IUCN family in Bangladesh, an ardent practitioner of nature-based Solutions (NbS) -- an umbrella concept covering a wide range of ecosystem-based actions -- urging the Governments to focus on humanity’s relationship with nature to overcome the challenges and build back better through transformational pathways. "