Nature-based solutions can help reduce the impact of natural hazards: A global analysis of NBS case studies

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Dec 1:902:165824. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165824. Epub 2023 Jul 30.


The knowledge derived from successful case studies can act as a driver for the implementation and upscaling of nature-based solutions (NBS). This work reviewed 547 case studies to gain an overview of NBS practices and their role in reducing the adverse impact of natural hazards and climate change. The majority (60 %) of case studies are situated in Europe compared with the rest of the world where they are poorly represented. Of 547 case studies, 33 % were green solutions followed by hybrid (31 %), mixed (27 %), and blue (10 %) approaches. Approximately half (48 %) of these NBS interventions were implemented in urban (24 %), and river and lake (24 %) ecosystems. Regarding the scale of intervention, 92 % of the case studies were operationalised at local (50 %) and watershed (46 %) scales while very few (4 %) were implemented at the landscape scale. The results also showed that 63 % of NBS have been used to deal with natural hazards, climate change, and loss of biodiversity, while the remaining 37 % address socio-economic challenges (e.g., economic development, social justice, inequality, and cohesion). Around 88 % of NBS implementations were supported by policies at the national level and the rest 12 % at local and regional levels. Most of the analysed cases contributed to Sustainable Development Goals 15, 13, and 6, and biodiversity strategic goals B and D. Case studies also highlighted the co-benefits of NBS: 64 % of them were environmental co-benefits (e.g., improving biodiversity, air and water qualities, and carbon storage) while 36 % were social (27 %) and economic (9 %) co-benefits. This synthesis of case studies helps to bridge the knowledge gap between scientists, policymakers, and practitioners, which can allow adopting and upscaling of NBS for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and enhance their preference in decision-making processes.

Keywords: Climate impact mitigation; Disaster risk reduction; NBS co-benefits; NBS policies; NBS upscaling; Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).