NetworkNature Knowledge Brief 1 - Taking nature- based solutions up the policy ladder: from research to policy action

NetworkNature Knowledge Brief 1 - Taking nature- based solutions up the policy ladder: from research to policy action

This Knowledge Brief produced by NetworkNature aims to disentangle the complexities associated with the integration of research and policy with regards to nature-based solutions (NBS) implementation and mainstreaming.

The brief provides an overview of the NBS knowledge gaps resulting from an analysis by NetworkNature of a large number of research publications, an online consultation and strategic dialogues with key stakeholders. This can support policymakers in better understanding the research needs which can strengthen the implementation of NBS. In preparation of this knowledge brief, interviews with policy makers and policy think tanks have been a major contributing source. The interviews reinforced key barriers to policy implementation for NBS and created better insight in priorities for research on NBS. The knowledge brief concludes with a list of recommendation for policymakers to address the identified gaps and barriers.

State and progress of NBS policy integration at European level
In recent years, the integration of NBS in the EU policy framework has witnessed significant
advancements. Such integration has contributed to placing NBS at the forefront of climate change adaptation strategies as well as a significant contributor to mitigation efforts, aside from providing co-benefits for human health and wellbeing and ensuring the protection of biodiversity across landscapes. As a core element of the European Green Deal - and in particular the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Strategy on adaptation to Climate Change, and the Farm-to-Fork Strategy - NBS have found their way into EU policy. Overall, NBS are either explicitly or implicitly (i.e. via use of other related terms) supported primarily by policies in the EU environmental and climate change legislative framework.

In the agricultural and rural development policy domain, certain provisions in the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), such as more diverse use of crops, agro-forestry, and minimum tillage, are considered supportive of NBS, even though not named as such. The new CAP is expected to take further steps towards achieving a green and sustainable system of agriculture in the EU, with additional provisions that can support NBS.

Further, the newly proposed EU Nature Restoration Law sets the scene to strengthen conservation and restoration efforts across Europe, by setting binding targets on pollinators, wetlands, rivers, forests, marine ecosystems, urban areas and peatlands. It represents the first continent-wide, comprehensive law of its kind. NBS are fundamental to restoring ecosystems to good condition and therefore ensure achievement of the set targets, while contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation. There appears to be a general consensus among the policy and scientific community that the EU Nature Restoration Law can be of ground-breaking nature if fully implemented, as the binding targets are adopted and MS commit to the achievement of both EU biodiversity and climate change goals. As cross-disciplinary solutions, NBS can realise their full potential only when the societal and economic perspectives are taken into account, alongside the environmental domain.

For this reason, further integration into related policies (e.g. economic development, health and finance) is crucial. The link to these policy areas may be less obvious and call for further research to clearly demonstrate the benefits and impacts of NBS (e.g. in terms of health benefits, job creation, business opportunities, etc.) and how they can contribute to their implementation.

Full knowledge brief available on

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