There is huge interest from policy makers, industry and NGOs in ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS). This concept refers to activities that involve harnessing natural processes in ways that provide benefits both for human wellbeing and for biodiversity, with examples including the protection, restoration or construction of wetlands, green roofs in cities, or tree planting in and around cities to absorb floodwaters.
However, while the idea has been greeted with enthusiasm by many, it has also attracted strong criticism from others. Concerns include the fact that NBS projects may be poorly implemented, or that they have been co-opted by corporate interests, in ways that both over-simplify and commodify nature. In particular, in the context of climate change and the focus on net zero, there are fears that NBS simply becomes another form of carbon credit, linked to carbon trading schemes which serve as offsets of dubious quality and which also distract from the need to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Additionally, by relying on simplistic approaches such as get-rich-quick planting of fast growing tree monocultures, so-called nature-based solutions make the nature crisis worse rather than better. An equally strong criticism is that NBS are often implemented without involving - and even at the expense of - local communities and Indigenous Peoples, who, in the name of nature restoration, may be displaced from their lands. Finally, what about food? We need land for nature, for people to live on - and crucially, we also need it for producing food. So what does a NBS solution look like when it takes the human need for food security into account?
Join TABLE for a panel discussion bringing together speakers who look at NBS from different perspectives. Should the concept be abandoned and replaced with an alternative; if so and what might that be - solutions that are not nature-based, or something else altogether? What would a ‘solution’ that takes account of biodiversity, carbon, social justice and food look like?
Kirtana Chandrasekaran is hosted by Friends of the Earth Scotland. She has spent over a decade fighting for food sovereignty and against the injustice of the industrial food system in India, the UK and Europe. At Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland Kirtana coordinated campaigns against GMOs, factory farming, and at European level to reform the European Common Agricultural Policy. Before that she worked for several local NGOs in India against agriculture in the WTO and unfair trade policies, and in support of good governance and local environmental struggles. She has degrees in Zoology, Journalism and Environment and Development. She is originally from Chennai, India and now lives in beautiful Edinburgh with her family.
Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity and Founding Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative in the Department of Biology at the University of Oxford. She is also Director of the Agile Initiative, co-lead of the Biodiversity and Society Programme and Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery, and is a Senior Research Fellow at Wadham College. In 2021, she co-founded the Oxford University Social Venture, Nature-based Insights of which she is non-executive Director. Nathalie trained as an evolutionary ecologist at Cambridge University and has over 25 years of research experience in a range of ecosystems across the globe. As a University Research Fellow of the Royal Society, she developed broad research interests in understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its relationship with global change. Her work now focuses on determining the ecological and socioeconomic effectiveness of nature-based solutions to societal challenges, and how to increase the influence of robust biodiversity science on the design and implementation of climate and development policy.
Jutta Kill is a researcher and writer. She has studied biology. Her research aims to support communities whose traditional economies and ways of life are threatened by deforestation and false solutions to the deforestation and climate crises. For more than 25 years, she has documented how conservation and forest carbon (more recently called REDD+ and ‘nature-based solutions’) projects have caused conflict with forest communities. Her publications show how such schemes are biased towards blaming deforestation on peasant farming and indigenous peoples' traditional forest use, and how by doing so, the conservation model and forest carbon initiatives make the role of corporate infrastructure, industrial agriculture and forestry in large-scale deforestation invisible. She has published extensively on carbon markets, biodiversity offsetting and the role of the new economy of nature in maintaining ecologically unequal trade and the associated violation of human rights and rights to land and use of peoples' traditional territories. Currently, one focus of her work is on analysing the role of carbon offsetting in further delaying the inevitable rapid phase-out of fossil carbon burning.
Roberto S. Waack is a biologist with a Masters in New Institutional Economics from the University of Sao Paulo. Has over 35 years’ experience as senior executive of pharmaceutical and forestry companies. In the last 20 years, he led enterprises in the Amazon region, involving sustainable management and forest restoration. As an entrepreneur, he is a founding member and shareholder of companies in biotechnology and forest sectors. His career in the private sector was always connected with academic and civil society initiatives, namely at the governance level. Roberto acted as board member (chairman for 3 years) of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), WWF Brasil, Ethos Institute Brazil, Funbio (Brazilian Biodiversity Fund) and others. As a strong believer of multi-stakeholder initiatives, Roberto has acted as a founding member of the Brazilian Coalition for Climate, Forests and Agriculture and the Brazilian Coalition for the Amazon, involving hundreds of actors from the private sector, academy and civil society. Both movements are involved in negotiations, conflict resolutions, knowledge development and advocacy, dealing with the diversity and ambiguities of a plural and complex society connected to land use, food security, forests and climate change. Presently Roberto is serving in governance bodies of private companies in the agribusiness, forestry and circular economy fronts, such as Marfrig, Braskem-Wise Plasticos, Tupy, SuperBid and Re.green. He is the Chairman of the Board of the philanthropic think tank Arapyaú, member of the Strategic Board of the Science Panel for the Amazon and an Associate Fellow of Chatham House (London).
Chair: Dr Tara Garnett, Director of TABLE
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