Nature-based solutions and COP28’s cross-cutting themes

A deep dive into COP28's four core pillars of technology & innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance.

Jenny Hyndman

Jenny Hyndman

04 Dec, 2023

Nature-based solutions and COP28’s cross-cutting themes

Could this year’s Conference of the Parties be the most controversial one yet? Hosted by a nation built on fossil fuels, it has divided opinion - is this hypocritical, or are the leaders in oil and gas exactly the people we need at the table to change the status quo?

Another unique element to this year’s COP is that 2023 is halfway between the Paris Agreement in 2016 and the 2030 deadline for limiting warming by 1.5C. This has prompted a ‘global stocktake’ to assess the world’s position and progress on climate change.

With such a huge undertaking at hand, COP28 have organised their summit into four cross-cutting themes, in order to prioritise key areas on climate. These include: technology & innovation, inclusion, frontline communities and finance.

The UN suggests nature-based solutions (NbS) could contribute around 30% of the global mitigation required by 2030/2050 to achieve the 1.5/2°C temperature goal. For this reason, we hope that NbS will be given significant consideration across the four themes at COP.

We’ve taken a closer look at what each theme means for nature-based solutions.

Technology & innovation: pioneering the green revolution

Inclusion: Bridging the gap between nature and society

While some rapid advancements in technology, and their associated impact, have been responsible for significant climate damage and biodiversity loss, progressive technology and climate innovations are also providing answers to accelerating climate action. 

Nature-based solutions are able to leverage cutting-edge technological advancements to address their specific challenges. Using technology tools such as artificial intelligence, drones, and satellite monitoring offers a promising path toward sustainability and a more harmonious relationship between humanity and the ecosystem. These examples are changing the way nature-based projects are run:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Advanced AI tools, driven by powerful algorithms, optimise reforestation efforts. These monitoring systems provide real-time insights into ecosystem health, enabling proactive interventions and adaptive management strategies. AI-driven predictive models can also forecast environmental changes and identify potential risks, allowing for timely mitigation measures to be taken.

  • Drones: Drones facilitate rapid tree planting in deforested areas, significantly accelerating reforestation efforts and restoring lost ecosystems. Additionally, if equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors, they provide detailed mapping and monitoring of ecosystems, providing valuable data for conservation planning and decision-making.

  • Satellite monitoring: Satellite imagery provides a comprehensive view of land cover changes, deforestation patterns, and ecosystem degradation. This helps identify areas in need of conservation attention, track the progress of restoration efforts, and assess the overall health of the planet's ecosystems.

This synergy between technology and nature-based solutions not only accelerates conservation efforts but also provides a blueprint for harnessing innovation to address the urgent needs of our planet. It’s essential that nature and technology remain connected.

As COP28 unfolds, the global community must harness the power of technology to drive innovation, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of conservation and sustainable resource management.

Check out the

UpLink WEF Naturetech challenge

for more nature-tech inspiration

Inclusion: bridging the gap between nature and society

Inclusion: Bridging the gap between nature and society

Inclusion is a key pillar of COP28, underscoring the need to ensure that every voice is heard in the collective journey toward a sustainable future. This approach embraces a diversity of perspectives, particularly those from indigenous communities and marginalised groups. Inclusivity taps into the rich pool of knowledge and sustainable practices from local communities.

Engaging local communities in the design and implementation of nature-based solutions fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility. This, in turn, paves the way for more effective and culturally sensitive conservation strategies.

Moreover, the wealth of indigenous knowledge, handed down through generations, becomes a valuable resource in the quest for sustainability. It offers a holistic understanding of ecosystems and time-tested sustainable practices. By acknowledging the wisdom of those living closest to nature, we aren't just empowering communities; we're enriching our conservation efforts with diverse perspectives. 

As COP28 unfolds, the global leadership community must prioritise the inclusion of local knowledge and communities in crafting policies that resonate with the delicate balance of nature. By embracing a truly inclusive approach, we can collectively chart a path towards a more sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

Frontline communities: guardians of biodiversity

Frontline communities guardians of biodiversity

Frontline communities, often living in close proximity to vulnerable ecosystems, play a crucial role in the nature-based solution narrative. Nature-based solutions, in turn, empower frontline communities by offering sustainable livelihoods that are in harmony with nature. Hopefully, the COP28 delegates recognise their significance and strive to integrate their experiences and perspectives into global policies. 

Nature-based solutions provide a lifeline for frontline communities grappling with the impacts of climate change. By embracing sustainable practices such as agroforestry, these communities can fortify against extreme weather events, ensuring food security. Reforestation initiatives act as natural shields, mitigating the risks of flooding and erosion. Moreover, nature-based solutions offer economic opportunities through eco-tourism and sustainable resource management, providing resilient livelihoods. 

As these communities stand on the frontline of climate change, integrating nature into their adaptation strategies not only enhances their resilience but also fosters a harmonious coexistence with the environment, ensuring a sustainable and equitable future. The delegation at COP28's must realise that the protection of these communities is intrinsically linked to the protection of our planet's natural heritage.

Finance: investing in a sustainable future

Climate finance is a critical component of the global effort to address climate change and build a sustainable future. However, the current system is falling short, with some countries failing to meet their commitments to transition to a low-carbon economy due to lack of finances.

The "fixing climate finance" pillar at COP28 represents a commitment to not only meet current climate finance challenges but to lay the groundwork for a resilient and sustainable future. It aims to redefine how financial resources are mobilised, allocated, and utilised to support global efforts in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

It is important to establish robust mechanisms for transparency and accountability to ensure that climate finance is utilised effectively and reaches the intended projects. This can be done by implementing clear reporting standards and metrics to track the impact of financial contributions and hold nations accountable for their commitments.

Additionally, we should work on encouraging increased participation from the private sector by creating a conducive environment for sustainable investments. Exploring incentives, regulatory frameworks, and risk-sharing mechanisms can attract private capital towards climate-resilient and low-carbon projects.

Finally, the financial needs of developing nations should be addressed by promoting inclusive finance models that consider their unique challenges. We should work towards equitable distribution of financial resources to ensure that all nations, irrespective of their economic status, can actively participate in climate action.

COP28 aims to forge a path toward a more equitable, transparent, and effective climate finance system that accelerates the global transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. By aligning financial incentives with environmental stewardship, we can collectively pave the way for a future where nature and humanity flourish in harmony.

Nature needs a seat at the table

As the world convenes at COP28, the cross-cutting themes of Technology & Innovation, Inclusion, Frontline Communities, and Finance, resonate strongly with nature-based solutions. This convergence offers a template for a harmonious coexistence between humanity and the environment, where cutting-edge technology, inclusive practices, empowered communities, and strategic investments propel us towards a sustainable and resilient future.

For further reading, the

Nature-based Solutions Initiative

published eight key considerations COP should make to ensure the integrity of nature-based solutions in this document:

"Ensuring the Integrity of Nature-Based Solutions in Climate Change Policy: Guarding Against Greenwashing at COP28"