The UN Environment Programme and nature-based solutions

We are facing a planetary emergency for climate, nature and humanity. Unsustainable human activities, from farming and mining to industry and infrastructure, are undermining the productivity of vast areas of farmland, forests and other ecosystems. This degradation threatens food security, water supplies and the biodiversity upon which human development depends. It drives and is exacerbated by the climate crisis.

We only have 10 years left to bend the curve on climate change and halt biodiversity loss before impacts on human beings become dramatic.

There are no quick technical fixes to solve the climate emergency and our over-exploitation of natural resources. But we do have nature, with its immense restorative power and some of the most cost-effective climate solutions. By working with nature, we have the potential to reduce emissions by more than a third of what is needed by 2030, but we must start now. Without nature, we will not be able to achieve 1.5°C or net-zero emissions by 2050, nor will we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

What is required is an urgent, massive investment effort to conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems, and drastic change in the way we interact with and depend on nature, to unlock its full potential.

In other words, we need to explore and invest in what nature does best: self-healing. This is what we call nature-based solutions.

The UN Environment Programme's work to implement nature-based solutions 

The UN Environment Programme works from the ground up, with small communities and at the highest levels, to shift our relationship with nature and help provide sustainable solutions to our unfolding climate crisis.

  • through agroforestry, reforestation and afforestation programmes, particularly in tropical regions, to reduce land degradation while soaking up carbon
  • by helping countries define, implement and monitor their national biodiversity strategic action plans
  • along with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNEP leads the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 to expand the use of agro-ecological farming practices
  • by supporting a wide range of forest and landscape restoration initiatives, raising awareness about and contributing to tree planting and supporting biodiversity and climate-smart agriculture
  • by working with governments on ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and supporting the development of national adaptation plans
  • by leading, jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme, the UN-REDD Programme on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
  • by supporting nature-based solutions at the Climate Action Summit, including the development of the nature-based solutions manifesto for unlocking the full potential of nature

Way forward

2020 will be a super year for nature—a unique opportunity to bring nature into development, biodiversity and climate solutions in a coherent way and at unprecedented scale. In 2020, nations will assess progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, set out new ambitions to stop biodiversity loss, and demonstrate climate commitments to meet the Paris Agreement. All this makes 2020 a crucial year—one that will pave the way for the success of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

Related links

For more information contact: Niklas Hagelberg