Nature-Based Solutions: The Green Recovery that Ensures a Great Recovery
Scientists estimate we have less than ten years in which to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere if we are to keep global temperature change below 2⁰C. Warming more than this threshold will result in increasingly more chaotic and more frequent impacts to weather, climate and ecological systems. Continuing and escalating changes in weather and climate are already having immediate, long-term and trickle-down effects on both human society and the ecosystems that shelter and sustain us.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold throughout our nation and the world, our day-to-day lives have been much affected. While we continue to seek improved therapeutic treatments and work furiously to develop an effective vaccine, our current resolve demonstrates that societies are capable of great change. As the global climate crisis continues to evolve, we need to continue this process of adaptation if we seek to prosper under this and inevitable future pandemics. Recent world events remind us of the ongoing need to fully integrate equity and inclusion in planning and design decisions as a key ingredient for a resilient future. Climate justice is social justice.
Landscape architects, who have long been the architects for nature, recognize that there is much that they can do to protect, enhance and sustain ecosystems and the role they play in ensuring that all human societies are better able to meet the coming challenges. Under the leadership of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), our profession has already embarked on an ambitious plan that challenges members to reduce their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), while creating landscapes capable of flourishing under environmental change. We need to do more to engage greater understanding within society of the need to protect and enhance the natural systems that provide necessary food, water and shelter to human populations.
Landscape architects understand that our greatest contributions to ensuring a prosperous future are vested in the creation of human societies characterized by an enhanced capacity for resilience, a willingness to transform to a better state, and a commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of environments, cultures and well-being. We believe that with insightful and sustainable planning and design, society can protect our existing wild areas, enhance ecosystems damaged by human stresses, ensure the sustainability of species and habitats, and support inclusive, healthy communities.
The CSLA 2021 Congress will highlight new policies and concrete action towards the implementation of low carbon resilience approaches to planning and design and the integration of nature-based solutions as a multi-beneficial approach to managing and sustaining our lands, waters and communities. Themes for the Congress will include:
• Carbon footprint reduction
• Afforestation and urban canopies
• Conservation and sustainability in natural environments
• Managing water resources to prevent flooding and improve amenities
• The role of indigenous communities in nature conservation
• Sustaining communities
Nature-based solutions, defined by the IUCN1 as ‘actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges (e.g. climate change, food and water security or natural disasters) effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits’, offer us the opportunity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequester carbon and shelter populations.