2021•10•11 Bonn, Germany
This year’s Climate Academy on Nature-based solutions and urban vulnerability brought together 18 young professionals from different countries for a week of webinars, presentations and exchange.
Nature-based solutions are a promising approach to climate change because if applied successfully, one solution can ideally contribute to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and a healthy environment all at the same time. Over a series of events the participants of the Academy discussed what decision makers in policy and communities of practice need to know about nature-based solutions to effectively reduce urban vulnerabilities. To this end, they shared cases of successful use of nature-based solutions from Brazil, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, USA, Peru, Uganda, Nigeria, Turkey, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Ghana and China, among others.
“Nature-based solutions have the potential to be vehicles of transformative climate actions and foster livelihoods at the local level,” said Dr. Himanshu Shekhar, who is the project manager of the Climate Academy series. “If designed and implemented in coordination with the community to adapt to the local conditions, they can be tremendously effective.”
But while nature-based solutions have great potential in locations around the world, they have to be contextualized for effective implementation and sustainability. There have been some cases, for example, of nature-based solutions that did not withstand climate extremes. Therefore these solutions need to be seen in conjunction with others, including adaptation and mitigation measures.
Discussions often centered on the importance of the local level: nature-based solutions must be planned and implemented with great local involvement and in a participatory approach so that all groups are represented.
Another key takeaway from the discussions was that the success of nature-based solutions is contingent upon the long-term sustainability of projects. “One of the most debated issues during the academy was financing,” remarked Christian Barthelt, senior project manager at Munich Re Foundation, the co-organizer of the Climate Academy. “Nature-based solutions are mostly long-term endeavors, five years plus. The funding, which – especially in the global South – often comes from NGOs or other external donors, is usually limited to two or three years. This discrepancy then results in rather small-scale and not always sustainable nature-based solutions approaches.”
In order to ensure financial continuity beyond the initial phase, one successful model can be community-based funding that aims to generate local level employment. At the same time, private parties can play an important role especially in regards to risk transfer, for example through the insurance of ecosystems, such as coral reef protection.
While some events were reserved for the participants of the Climate Academy which had previously been selected in a competitive process, there were also eight webinars that were open to the public. Through these webinars this year’s Academy was able to reach 297 registered viewers from 62 different countries.
The “People’s Pathways to Climate Action – Climate Academy” is jointly organized by United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and Munich Re Foundation (MRF) in collaboration with the UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC). It takes place annually and tackles a different topic each year.