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14 Dec 2022 | Transboundary Landscapes

Experts discuss scaling up nature-based solutions in the HKH

HI-LIFE webinar series episode 3

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Birdwatching tourism in Baihualing Administrative Village, China, serves as a nature-based solution for income generation and community engagement in conservation. (Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

We organised the third episode of our HI-LIFE webinar series focusing on nature-based solutions (NbS). This episode shared case studies, experiences, and innovative practices around NbS from the HKH region to address socioeconomic and environmental challenges such as poverty, disaster reduction, erosion, pest infestation, pollution, and extreme weather events while achieving net gains in biodiversity conservation.

The webinar also hosted a special session on investments in NbS, organised as part of our Mountains of Opportunity Investment Framework. A diverse range of experts from the HKH region and beyond – including scientists, communication experts, policymakers, practitioners, and representatives from funding agencies – participated in the webinar.


Key messages from the webinar


Nature-based solutions: Concept, criteria, and practices

The first session explored the concept of NbS and highlighted challenges around their implementation. Raphael Glemet, Programme Coordinator for Water and Wetlands at the IUCN Asia Regional Office, Bangkok, in his keynote presentation introduced the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions, a user-friendly framework for the verification, design, and scaling up of effective NbS. He elaborated on the NbS standard, which outlines eight different criteria with 28 indicators to help users adopt robust NbS for addressing societal challenges such as climate change, food security, and disaster risk reduction.

Other panellists emphasised the important role the private sector and funding agencies need to play in increasing investment in NbS. They stressed on connecting businesses with biodiversity, strengthening monitoring systems, accounting for the ecosystem services generated by nature, and quantifying a return on investments.


Innovative use of nature for economic development in the mountains of HKH

The second session covered a wide variety of subjects, such as rural avitourism development in the Gaoligong Mountains in southern China (where three different types of models were introduced for promoting bird-watching tourism), mycotourism, and ethnobotanical practices and their economic relevance. Participants also discussed the possibility of building a regional value chain between Nepal and China for Calotropis gigantea, from which natural fibre is extracted.

Word cloud of participants’ responses reflecting on the implementation of NbS


Managing environmental challenges by following the law of nature

The third session emphasised the role NbS can play in managing environmental challenges and risks, particularly natural hazards, which are increasing in frequency and intensity in mountain areas. The keynote presentation from Anna Scolobig, University of Geneva, Switzerland, highlighted how scaling up NbS – by aligning policies and financial resources – can serve as a useful alternative approach to disaster risk reduction in the mountains, as opposed to traditional engineering measures, which are costly and can negatively impact ecosystems.

Word cloud of participants’ responses on action required to manage disasters



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