Ethny Childs
May 2021

STAGES on the road to COP26: Adaptation wrap-up

In the run-up to COP26, the IES has been hosting a number of discussions and events exploring six key themes in our STAGES on the road to COP26

Our third theme was on adaptation, and in particular, the fundamental role of nature-based solutions in meeting climate ambitions, restoring ecosystems and protecting biodiversity. We explored the role of nature-based solutions in a number of different contexts, highlighting the diverse ways that restoring ecosystems and promoting nature can address societal challenges, from promoting healthy soils to ensuring a just transition. 

Our final event was a panel discussion held in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). The event featured four expert panellists who explored the role of nature-based solutions in the upcoming COP15 for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and COP26 for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Key ideas to take away from the panel event

The discussion sought to place nature-based solutions within the wider context of sustainability and provided diverse insights into climate, nature and the connection between them. Discussion was wide-ranging, but a number of key principles were highlighted as critical to ensuring nature-based solutions are utilised effectively. 

Systems-level thinking is key

Nothing has highlighted more strongly than the COVID-19 pandemic the ways in which human health and wellbeing are intimately connected to nature. Research has shown that ecosystem degradation results in much higher likelihoods of zoonotic disease outbreaks, like COVID-19, bringing into focus the dependence we have on natural systems. Nature-based solutions seek to recognise and build-upon this reliance, allowing us to address societal challenges in a way that is in sync with the natural world and protects biodiversity. This in turn, will help rebuild robust and resilient ecosystems that provide us with the myriad ecosystem services we need to survive. By placing climate action within the wider agenda of protecting the natural world we will be able to take advantage of the synergies between them. Designing multifunctional nature-based solutions will be a fundamental part of this. 

Nature-based solutions are not a panacea. They will need to be done in tandem with other climate mitigation and adaptation methods. However, they provide a unique opportunity to align climate action and biodiversity action in a complementary way. They are, therefore, an integral part of achieving climate ambitions and supporting widespread ecosystem restoration, provided they are underpinned by a shift in the ways we work.

We must move towards holistic, systems-level thinking which seeks to address the challenges facing our society in a joined-up way. Promoting systems-level thinking is the only way that we will be able to maximise the synergies and minimise the trade-offs between the climate and biodiversity agendas. 

What next?

The next theme of our work on the STAGES on the Road to COP26 will be looking at Green Society, in which we will be exploring how society will need to be supported in the green transition through the provision of net zero skills and knowledge. Register your place for upcoming events in this theme using the following links: 


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