Can nature-based solutions support economic recovery? A review of reviews on the economic outcomes of NbS

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Authors

Alexandre Chausson , Alison Smith , Brian O'Callaghan, Yadira Mori-Clement, Florencia Zapata, Nathalie Seddon

Abstract

Nature-based solutions (NbS) involve working with nature to address societal challenges, with benefits for both people and biodiversity. However, their potential role in recovery from economic crises, such as those arising from conflicts or pandemics, remains underexplored. We conducted a systematic review of reviews on the economic impact of nature-based interventions. From 46 relevant reviews, most demonstrated positive outcomes for income and employment, but national-scale economic growth assessments were scarce. Half of the cases featured nature-based food production investments, and much of the evidence was from sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific. The few reviews that compared NbS with alternative approaches found that NbS delivered equal or higher economic outcomes. NbS also deliver wider benefits such as food and water security, flood protection and community empowerment, which enhance economic prosperity and resilience. We identified factors that affect delivery of benefits and trade-offs, finding that NbS should adhere to best practice standards (especially by involving local communities and disadvantaged groups in their design and implementation) to deliver more equitable outcomes for people and nature.
We find that well-designed NbS can create diverse job opportunities at different skill levels, diversify income, and improve resilience, providing a rapid and flexible response to economic shocks that can be targeted at deprived communities. By bringing together traditional, local and scientific knowledge, NbS can drive eco-innovation, accelerating the transition to a clean, efficient, circular economy, and their high economic multipliers can cascade indirect and induced effects throughout economies. The evidence underscores the need to include NbS in investment programs to concurrently address economic, environmental, and societal challenges. However, we reiterate calls for better monitoring of economic, social and ecological outcomes and suggest development of comprehensive accounting systems to track public and private NbS investments.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31223/X5C38W

Subjects

Environmental Sciences

Keywords

Nature-based solutions, economic stimulus, green recovery, natural capital, Climate economics

Dates

Published: 2023-08-10 00:44

Last Updated: 2023-08-10 07:44

License

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data Availability (Reason not available):
A dataset including a) the list of included and excluded reviews and b) the coded data is available in the supporting information (Appendix E).

Conflict of interest statement:
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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