'Nature-based solutions' for what and for whom? These cards are an invitation to query and re-index Google search results for 'nature-based solutions', looking beyond more prominent promotional narratives to surface concerns, questions, tensions and uncertainties with advocating nature as solution. Each card contains a critical quote together with its original search position and source. How can query results be re-ordered and re-presented to tell a different story? Who and what is missing? Shuffle and deal the cards and take turns to lay them out in an associational space, reading the card, elaborating placement and developing alternative narratives. Counter-indexing results may be taken as a form of search engine critique, troubling problematic solutions and making space for other kinds of collective responses. The cards may be printed from this page (File > Print) in landscape format (2 x 4 cards per page).

? Querying nature-based solutions 'Nature-based solutions' for what and for whom? These cards are an invitation to query and re-index Google search results for 'nature-based solutions', looking beyond more prominent promotional narratives to surface concerns, questions, tensions and uncertainties with advocating nature as solution. Each card contains a critical quote together with its original search position and source. How can query results be re-ordered and re-presented to tell a different story? Who and what is missing? Shuffle and deal the cards and take turns to lay them out in an associational space, reading the card, elaborating placement and developing alternative narratives. Counter-indexing results may be taken as a form of search engine critique, troubling problematic solutions and making space for other kinds of collective responses.

? .. nature-based solutions aren’t always the best answer. For example, planting non-native trees to offset carbon emissions can be detrimental to biodiversity and can even reduce the availability of water, and the potential climate benefits don’t outweigh the cost. 002 worldwildlife.org

? Nature-based solutions can help reduce climate change, but they cannot “solve” climate change on their own: they need to be combined with rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and potentially with engineered forms of carbon removal. 004 american.edu

? Where should the line be drawn as to what counts as a ‘natural’ intervention? 005 freshwaterblog.net

? Which communities and stakeholders (human or non-human) might nature-based solutions benefit, and which might be overlooked? 005 freshwaterblog.net

? In complex and often-uncertain contemporary landscapes, can all the potential pros and cons of a particular nature-based solution be fully considered? 005 freshwaterblog.net

? In addition to their benefits, could nature-based solutions unintentionally foster negative ‘ecosystem disservices’ in a landscape? 005 freshwaterblog.net

? And, significantly, given the centrality of economic benefits to the concept, can nature-based solutions remain apart from issues of corporate ‘greenwashing’ through schemes such as carbon offsetting through tree planting? 005 freshwaterblog.net

? However, like all potential solutions to climate change, nature-based solutions can pose certain challenges. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, nature-based solutions cannot save the world on their own. If the planet is degraded and warmed too much, these solutions will simply not be effective in alleviating the serious consequences of climate change. 026 gceurope.org

? Additionally, corporations have started to warm to the idea of nature-based solutions. While this might seem like a step in the right direction, it is often an example of ‘green-washing’, where corporations make it seem like they are acting in environmentally friendly ways, despite this not being true. For example in 2019, Shell announced that it would invest $300 million into natural ecosystems (e.g. paying for reforestation). However this is a tiny fraction of their total budget and the company has caused disastrous oil spills in the past. It is therefore important to be sceptical of companies’ interest in nature-based solutions. 026 gceurope.org

? Offsetting has been used as an excuse for not cutting emissions, allowing environmentally destructive activities to continue under the green veil of NbS. 027 netzeroclimate.org

? NbS offsetting projects have sometimes led to land grabs, human rights abuses, and other negative consequences for local people. 027 netzeroclimate.org

? Some projects labelled as NbS have had detrimental ecological side effects. 027 netzeroclimate.org

? Offsetting has sometimes funded creation of ecosystems with low resilience to environmental change and hence unstable carbon stores. 027 netzeroclimate.org

? .. offsetting could enable continued pollution; the availability of large volumes of low-cost carbon credits from NbS projects can dilute the ambition of companies and governments to reduce their own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; NbS offsets can be misused for greenwashing, while continuing the status quo; measurement errors could overestimate reduced emissions; land use could prioritise emission reductions/removals (e.g. large-scale, non-native, monoculture plantations), thereby having a negative impact on biodiversity, food and water security and the provision of other ecosystem goods and services, especially for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. 036 fern.org

? How does the Convention on Biological Diversity intend to address civil society's and Indigenous Peoples and local communities concerns about the so-called "fortress conservation" approach, including the setting of non-inclusive targets? 036 fern.org

? Could NbS sanction the destruction of biodiversity as long as there are attempts to compensate elsewhere, in breach of rights and science? 036 fern.org

? Are international financial flows and private funding the most appropriate tools to foster biodiversity conservation in developing countries? 036 fern.org

? Will Nature-based solutions continue the status quo? 036 fern.org

? How can the EU prevent land grabbing and human rights violations linked to Nature-based Solutions? 036 fern.org

? ... the NBS concept is a dangerous and damaging one; a concept so broad and vague that it can refer to anything from peatland restoration to monoculture plantations; a bad idea dressed up in acceptable terminology and beautiful imagery; a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 039 foei.org

? Beneath the veneer NBS is firmly based in carbon and nature neo-colonialism, discredited market mechanisms and corporate greenwashing. 039 foei.org

? NBS instrumentalises nature as a so-called solution without defining who created the problem. It instrumentalises the lives and historical practices of Indigenous Peoples, peasants, artisanal fishers, and many other communities as offsets for corporate destruction while enabling a wave of new dispossessions. 39 foei.org

? NBS seems to offer magical solutions to highly complex problems that in reality require sustained, concerted action by governments, businesses and society as a whole: NBS over-simplifies the problem and presents apparently easy technical solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises, making it seem as if science or funding will resolve them 039 foei.org

? Meanwhile, NBS hides the complex realities of corporate concentration of power, and the vested interests behind maintaining the status quo. This simplicity may be attractive since it avoids dealing with the structural changes needed to end the crises that affect us today. The pattern is reminiscent of highly discredited REDD and REDD+ schemes. 039 foei.org

? As a marketised system NBS is not transparent. It is a distraction from the essential need to both cut carbon at source and properly protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems in line with the science. NBS provides no certainty that nature and ecosystems will not be further eroded and lost. 039 foei.org

? NBS has found favour with large industrial interests, especially the fossil fuel industry and agribusiness, and business organisations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). 039 foei.org

? The list of industrial corporations and business groupings which have offered explicit support for NBS already includes: BP, Chevron, Equinor, Total, Shell, Eni, BHP, Dow Chemical Company, Bayer, Boeing, Microsoft, Novartis, Procter and Gamble, HSBC, Woodside Energy, International Paper, Olam, Coca-Cola, Danone, Unilever, Mars, Earth Client, Systemiq, WBCSD, World Economic Forum, and IETA 039 foei.org

? ... to open whole new areas of nature as an asset class for market mechanisms (water bodies, oceans etc)—reducing the incredible diversity of the planet’s forests, grasslands, and wetlands to carbon that will be traded, and triggering a massive new resource grab from Indigenous Peoples, peasants and local communities, mainly in the global South. 039 foei.org

? Among many peoples and groups there is increasing support for NBS that arises from a genuine and welcome concern for nature. But NBS is not the answer. The concept has been captured by governments and corporations for their own purposes. 039 foei.org

? The majority of NBS schemes, whether by corporations or governments, are already connected to offsets and generating carbon credits 39 foei.org

? NBS threatens to distort nature protection – instrumentalising nature as a solution rather than as something worth protecting for its own sake, and formalising a false notion that ‘nature’ and ‘people’ are separate. 039 foei.org

? The NBS pledges of corporations alone require eye-watering areas. Total’s Nature Based Solutions unit will be looking for projects to store at least five million tonnes of the company’s CO2 emissions annually from 2030. Shell has announced ramping-up of the purchase of carbon offsets, including from tree planting and forest conservation projects, to 120 million tonnes a year by 2030; Eni is counting on forests to store 40 million tonnes of its CO2 emissions annually from 2050 (and six million tonnes annually from 2024). 039 foei.org

? Friends of the Earth International is committed to supporting real solutions for system change. We commit to promoting integrated and transformational solutions to the multiple crises we face, such as agroecology, community forest management, stopping fossil fuel extraction, and supporting community based renewable energy. 039 foei.org

? FOEI rejects NBS and re-affirms our commitment to promote system change as an essential condition to overcome the crises we face. The solutions to climate change and biodiversity decline already exist without offsetting and NBS. 039 foei.org

? Defining NbS: solutions for whom, by whom, and for what? 045 naturebasedsolutionsoxford.org

? This session will start by reviewing the potential of NbS to support climate change mitigation, clarifying the scientific basis that NbS require fossil fuels to be kept in the ground. It will then directly address current criticisms that NbS are being used for greenwashing, including what the evidence for this is and how it is being done, as well as exploring how this can be avoided. Discussions will broach whether and how NbS can and should play a role in achieving net-zero and be used in offsetting schemes and, if so, how we ensure the price is high enough to avoid cascades of negative impacts on people, climate and nature. 045 naturebasedsolutionsoxford.org

? Nature-based solutions should by definition support biodiversity. However, not all projects badged as NbS have been shown to achieve this in practice. Badly designed projects might fail to deliver the intended benefits or could even harm biodiversity and compromise ecosystem integrity and resilience. There are some concerns that the use of ‘net gain’ for biodiversity in the IUCN standard risks use of biodiversity offsetting to meet this criterion. 045 naturebasedsolutionsoxford.org

? However, there are serious concerns from IPLCs across the world that NbS is a top-down, externally-imposed concept that commodifies nature and brings serious risks to rights and livelihoods. 045 naturebasedsolutionsoxford.org

? In other cases, support for nature-based solutions is used as an excuse to continue business as usual. For example, it is hard to view Shell’s decision to buy carbon credits to offset the emissions from its UK-based customers’ fuel purchases and market it as ‘Carbon Neutral Driving’, as anything else but greenwashing. As long as the oil major is exploring for additional oil and gas reserves, the contribution of its core business to the climate emergency is vastly outweighing any positive effects from this minor investment in carbon credits. 062 wwf.org.co

? Investments in nature-based solutions cannot be used as an excuse to continue with high-emitting business models or to justify the continued sale of high-carbon products or services. The climate crisis – much like the COVID-19 pandemic – requires us to look again at how we manage our relationship with nature and natural systems. We need to acknowledge that fig leaves are not fit for purpose. 062 wwf.org.co

? They also need to be transformative: rather than simply generating measurable reductions, such as carbon credits, projects need to address the underlying conditions and processes that drive the destruction of natural habitats. Without the right land tenure franchising instead of de-franchising local owners rights, governance arrangements and supporting policies, economic opportunities for forest peoples and demand for forest-risk commodities, this destruction will continue. 062 wwf.org.co

? Despite their shortcomings, carbon markets and the NbS model have also been held out as a means of financing conservation of biological diversity. Appropriating forests and lands to serve such NbS strategies, however, threatens to dispossess the indigenous peoples and local communities who are the true stewards of the planet’s biodiversity. 073 twn.my

? In light of the dangers and drawbacks of turning to “nature-based solutions”, this paper poses the question: Whose nature is being asked to solve which problems? 073 twn.my

? The four principles have had no impact whatsoever on using Nature-Based Solutions to greenwash one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases on the planet – at least before the Coronavirus brought it grinding to a (temporary) halt. CORSIA puts no cap on emissions from the aviation industry. It is cap-and-trade without the cap. 128 redd-monitor.org

? It would be easy to criticise the four principles for nature-based solutions statement. The principles look a lot like a list of safeguards to be tacked on as an after thought to a top-down so-called “solution” to the climate crisis. 128 redd-monitor.org

? That also should mean no offsets. The best way to ensure that nature-based solutions are not a substitute for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is to say no to offsets. 128 redd-monitor.org

? “Nature-Based Solutions” and “Natural Climate Solutions” leave too much room for greenwashing 144 ensia.com

? Poor quality carbon capture projects diminish accountability, reduce emissions captured and may negatively impact the "Singapore brand", said MP Leon Perera. Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 8), he urged the Government to recommend transparency and traceability guidelines for such projects. 162 channelnewsasia.com

? Climate solutions must also improve and invest in gender-specific statistics and data to amplify the relationship between gender and climate, strengthen and enforce land rights, and promote women-led and women-focused sustainable solutions, particularly indigenous and grassroots nature-based solutions, resource management, and food production activities. 165 unwomen.org

? “Who has the power to set the agenda? Who makes decisions regarding appropriate actions … who is participating, and being included in whose project?” 169 news.mongabay.com

? Improperly implemented, spatial conservation targets such as those under the 30 by 30 proposal would lead to widespread evictions while exacting a financial toll: the price of resettling and compensating communities, and replacing their existing conservation programs, will likely cost countries between 100 and more than 1,000 times the price of recognizing their tenure rights, the report calculated. 169 news.mongabay.com

? Also without tenure rights, the inflow of money into nature-based solutions such as carbon offsets and REDD+ projects could also result in massive land grabs instead of benefiting local communities. 169 news.mongabay.com

? But these “nature-based solutions” are not without their critics. Some argue that the very concept of nature as a tool reduces and obscures its inherent value. Others reject the term and warn that its vagueness leaves it open to deliberate misuse. 198 carbonbrief.org

? “The primary need is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. It is very worrying that high-emitting industries and high-emitting countries are indicating that somehow if we grow enough trees we will be able to offset our emissions. That’s impossible to do.” 198 carbonbrief.org

? The term “nature-based solutions” in itself has not been universally welcomed. Its critics – including academics, environmental activists, non-governmental organisations and civil society groups – argue that nature-based solutions do not substantially address climate change and can even be harmful to both the environment and humans. 198 carbonbrief.org

? One issue, these critics say, is that the term “nature-based solutions” is a vaguely defined catch-all term, with no clarity on what “nature” is or what solutions are natural. 198 carbonbrief.org

? “Any rubbish can be branded as nature-based nowadays. The term can be used to apply to tree plantations, industrial agriculture, land grabs, carbon offsets, biodiversity offsets. The term is so vague I could probably cut down a tree, whittle it down to a stick, wave it at the moon and call it a nature-based solution.” 198 carbonbrief.org

? Bolivia slams the cover text. "This text assumes that nature is only in service of people’s needs, but nature has an intrinsic value. It is sacred. That must be reflected. 'Nature-based Solutions' was never negotiated here" 198 carbonbrief.org

? “Most of these [net-zero pledges] have huge ‘negative emissions’ components – the assumption that something, somewhere is going to suck the carbon out of the air after they’ve polluted it…We increasingly see that the most prominent advocates of nature-based solutions tend to be the polluters because they see it as a solution to their pollution.” 198 carbonbrief.org

? In some cases, the negative emissions contributions of nature in these pledges are based on wholly unrealistic assumptions about land use and availability, continues Anderson. This means that those making the pledges will end up resorting to land grabs, leading to the violation of Indigenous peoples’ rights, she says. 198 carbonbrief.org

? Anderson points out that the communities where tree plantations are planned are “the ones who have done the least” to cause climate change. Nor are these communities the ones calling for these strategies, she says. 198 carbonbrief.org

? The term nature-based solutions “means what the powerful actors using it to green their images want it to mean”, writes Prof Doreen Stabinsky, professor of global environmental politics at the College of the Atlantic in the US and advisor to a group of developing country governments on the issue of loss and damage. 198 carbonbrief.org

? In a recent publication, Stabinsky says that academics might “write long peer-reviewed articles laying out criteria by which so-called [nature-based solutions] might be evaluated whilst oil majors create new ‘nature-based solutions’”, unaligned with these criteria and units. 198 carbonbrief.org

? “Nature-based solutions is a bad term, because it’s really about people. It’s not about nature. It disguises who’s making the change: Oh, we’ll just let nature do it. But if human land use is a cause of climate change, then to change that we need to change how humans interact with our land. We need people-centred climate solutions.” 198 carbonbrief.org

? “There’s the humility that is required to do this work and to recognise that we are conducting an unprecedented experiment on the biosphere. How much can nature mop up? We don’t know. I hope it’s a lot because we seem to not be reducing our fossil-fuel emissions. And, if we’re not reducing our fossil fuel emissions, then we’re going to have to start relying on this stuff pretty heavily.” 198 carbonbrief.org

? These attractive statistics, however, have been questioned as misleading because they are based on potential carbon absorption by “natural” ecosystems based on various implausible assumptions. For example, roughly half of this projection comes from afforestation or reforestation requiring nearly 800 million hectares, or roughly the size of Australia, which was mostly proposed for Latin America. There was no discussion of the political or social costs of these actions, or that such figures imply switching wood production to tree plantations, which simultaneously act as carbon sinks. 205 blogs.lse.ac.uk

? A key concern here is the extent to which nature-based solutions and net-zero in effect mean a greater commitment to using large-scale tree plantations. Critics have worried that using plantations might reduce attention to other actions that can reduce emissions from industrial or urban areas. Plantations can also threaten potential negative human rights impacts on rural communities or countries where widespread tree planting is planned, and which have contributed comparatively less to climate change than others. Plantation forestry also offers less in terms of biodiversity than other forms of forest restoration. There have also been doubts about whether forest or landscape-focused, climate policies can actually deliver required reductions in gases. 205 blogs.lse.ac.uk

? Indeed, a consortium of 21 NGOs including Greenpeace, Rainforest Foundation UK, and the African Union of Conservationists wrote an open letter to the COP26 Presidency arguing that “nature-based solutions” are neither solutions nor natural because they exaggerate mitigation benefits, and they potentially endanger local peoples’ rights. Yet, before COP26 Boris Johnson stated that “planting millions of trees” was part of the UK’s climate change policy. 205 blogs.lse.ac.uk

? There needs to be more public debate about nature-based solutions and net-zero climate pathways. Simply talking about “nature” at the heart of government policy does not explain how far these policies will actually make poorer people more vulnerable, or capture the carbon projected. 205 blogs.lse.ac.uk

? As IUCN points out, “misunderstanding and misuse of NbS have led to applications that cause harm to biodiversity and communities and threaten to erode stakeholders’ trust in the approach.” Examples include mass reforestation of single-species or non-native species, land grabbing for reforestation, and curtailing of rights of Indigenous peoples through conservation projects. 219 thecommonwealth.org

? Further, NbS should not support or encourage carbon offsetting by polluting industries, as a way to justify their continued or growing emissions. A strong framework and standards have to be developed to guard against the misuse of “nature-based” to ensure effective climate action. 219 thecommonwealth.org