Nature-Based Solutions

Concepts and definitions

Many socio-environmental problems can be solved more efficiently and less costly through what has been called “nature-based solutions” (NBS). The European Union, which has been strongly promoting this type of solution through the “Horizon 2020” research and innovation program, defines NBS as “solutions inspired by, supported by or copied from nature, designed to face society’s challenges effectively and at low cost, simultaneously providing environmental, social and economic benefits, and helping to build resilient systems.

NBS incorporate in social-environmental solutions the benefits that nature can provide for people, known as “ecosystem services” or “nature’s contributions to people”. These services or contribution involves material goods (e.g., water, wood, fibers, fruits), regulation services (climate, water, pollination, control of pests, diseases, floods, and landslides, among others), and cultural services (recreation and physical activity, contemplation and aesthetic appreciation, spiritual experience). Once the provision of these services generates benefits, for example by increasing the harvest (e.g., through pollination or pest control), or simply by avoiding repair or restoration costs (for example, by reducing damage from floods and landslides), NBS are usually more efficient and less costly than solutions that depend exclusively on built infrastructure.

NBS can be understood as an umbrella term, which covers various environmental actions or initiatives, such as restoration of forest landscapes, ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change, ecological restoration, and protection of conservation units. These actions occur at different scales and in different environments, from green roofs and bioswales in urban ecosystems, to the implementation of new wetlands, or the restoration of extensive native vegetation areas in rural environments.

As the full provision of many of the benefits incorporated in NBS is related to biodiversity, there is a clear dependency between the integrity of ecosystems, the conservation of biodiversity, and human well-being provided by this type of solution.

NBS in Biota Synthesis project

The Biota Synthesis project will work closely with the government of the state of São Paulo and other social actors to propose or develop NBS related to the development of sustainable agricultural practices, the reduction in some zoonotic diseases dispersion, and the control or prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases (which include hypertension, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases) and common mental disorders (such as anxiety and depression crises) in urban environments. We will particularly consider restoration actions and their benefits in rural landscapes, and the effects of green infrastructure on human health in urban areas.