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Nature-based Solutions: an interview with our Collection Guest Editors

We speak to Harriet Bulkeley (HB) and Patience Mguni (PM), two of the Guest Editors of the PLOS Climate and PLOS Water‘s cross-journal call for papers on Nature-based Solutions (NbS). Find full details of the call for papers here, and submit your research by 13th December!

How can research on nature-based solutions help support decision- and policy-makers?

HB: Research on NbS will be vital to help us understand the multiple benefits, as well as emerging trade-offs, that arise from their design and implementation. Crucially, such research is needed to help us understand who benefits from and who pays for NbS, and whether they can be both effective and fair over the long-term.

PM: I think policy makers and practitioners would benefit from research that helps them to identify relevant windows of opportunity for implementing NbS at different scales within their own contexts.

How do you hope to see nature-based solutions addressed at the UNFCCC COP27 and CBD COP15?

HB: NbS provide a crucial means through which the climate and biodiversity agendas can be addressed simultaneously – we need to see joined up support for a wide variety of NbS that can address different aspects of these challenges across diverse landscapes, from coasts to cities, and meet the needs of multiple stakeholders and communities.

PM: I hope to see an emphasis on financing for people-centred upscaling of NbS initiatives and research in a way that builds real capacity for NbS integration into development pathways, especially in the Global South.

What is the importance of Open Access and Open Science in advancing research and action on nature-based solutions?

HB: Peer-reviewed evidence provides a strong basis for building policy and practice, but it can only do this if it can reach those who are making decisions – Open Access allows a whole host of actors, from NGOs to community leaders, business to government, to access the latest research and build on it in taking NbS forward.

PM: Open Access and Open Science can help advance the integration of NbS as one avenue for building resilience to climate change, especially in vulnerable regions. For regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa it is important that research is shared through Open Access in order to be readily accessible to policy makers and practitioners on the ground.

How can interdisciplinary approaches help inform the development and evaluation of nature-based solutions?

HB: NbS cut across multiple issue areas, from health and well-being to climate adaptation, biodiversity to economic development, each of which requires insight from diverse disciplines. Bringing these insights together is necessary, but in order to understand the potential synergies and trade-offs between these benefits and the wider implications of adopting NbS, interdisciplinary research is needed that seeks to generate interaction and dialogue between different ways of understanding, designing and implementing NbS.

PM: Inter- and transdisciplinary approaches can help widen the criteria used to evaluate and decide on NbS development and evaluation. This can strengthen the case for pursuing nature-based pathways within infrastructure provision. Inter- and transdisciplinary approaches can also illuminate important yet overlooked forms of knowledge such as Indigenous and Local Knowledges that are key to realising impactful NbS at scale.

Are there any particular aspects or regions that you would be excited to see represented in our Collection?

HB: Cities are a crucial place for NbS, but often overlooked in existing research and practice. Given that cities are home to the majority of the world’s population and the potential NbS have to bring economic development, climate resilience, encounters with nature and increasing well-being, it is vital we understand more about how NbS are being implemented, the benefits they provide and the barriers they face.

PM: I am really looking forward to seeing studies that address the human wellbeing contributions of NbS as well as papers that present empirical cases from the Global South.

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