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Thursday, September 22 • 9:00am - 11:00am
(REF 22110) Nature-based solutions for reducing disaster risks - Convened by UNESCO

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Severe natural hazards such as floods, landslides and wildfires are impacting vulnerable regions worldwide. The increasing frequency and severity of hydro-meteorological phenomena appear to be associated with climate change, and increasing numbers of communities are exposed to climate-related hazards yearly. Nature-based Solutions (NBS) are reframing the public discourse and policy responses worldwide to environmental challenges. The concept of NBS is, therefore, increasingly considered as a vehicle to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). NBS refer to integrated, holistic approaches that recognize the value of nature by protecting and sustainably managing ecosystems to address societal challenges while providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits. While the IUCN Global Standard provides a common framework for defining and benchmarking NBS, further (coordinated) analysis is needed of NBS effectiveness, operationalization and replication to promote acceptance of NBS and develop adequate policy mechanisms. This session aims to discuss and advance knowledge of innovative NBS to reduce environmental risks in line with major global frameworks, including the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Sendai Framework and Convention on Biological Diversity, improve the understanding of associated social-ecological interactions, and enhance the scientific basis for sustainable development and resilience.


This session will present regional case studies and results of NBS co-creation and implementation, including main drivers and barriers for NBS uptake, from Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States. Session contributions will document how NBS can be beneficial in addressing sustainable development challenges related to environmental risks by leveraging local and scientific knowledge streams and participatory stakeholder engagement and in contributing to global targets. Sustainable Development Goals directly addressed by NBS include SDG 3 «Ensure health and well-being for all», SDG 6 «Ensure access to water and sanitation for all», SDG 13 «Take urgent action to combat climate change», and SDG 15 «Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems».

Regional examples:
The use of grass strips for trapping sediments in Ethiopia, restoration of mangroves in Kenya, protection of water sources and enhancing water availability in Kenya by providing more watering points in national parks and community areas, and pioneering climate resilient marine protected area management in Madagascar demonstrate that applying NBS can offer significant potential for climate or disaster risk reduction.

At Po Delta Biosphere Reserve in Italy, NBS are co-developed and implemented to address the risks associated with coastal erosion and salt intrusion phenomena. Laboratory experiments are being developed to determine specific plant species that can function as resilient natural barriers to salt intrusions and protect agricultural lands. Deep-rooting plants are seeded to reinforce the riverbank, and an artificial dune is constructed using geo-materials to reduce coastal erosion. These solutions will protect agricultural lands and the local communities and prove the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of NBS.

The Nile Delta is one of the main physiographic regions of Egypt, where most of the country's population, infrastructure, cultural heritage sites, and economic and agricultural activities are concentrated. The Nile Delta’s coastal margin is sinking due to subsidence of the land and rising sea levels. Consequently, parts of the Delta are turning into a salty wasteland, impacting the livelihoods of local farmers. The use of dune-forming fences is considered a promising ecosystem-based approach to climate change adaptation. Dune-forming fences made of natural materials have been used for generations by indigenous communities to conserve fertile land, protect against desertification, and reduce vulnerability to erosion, saltwater intrusion, storm surges, and floods.

Biosphere Reserves in Central America are exposed to severe hydro-meteorological events such as droughts, tropical storms and hurricanes (such as the Bosawás and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserves located in Nicaragua and Honduras). Based on traditional and indigenous knowledge, innovative NBS are developed to reduce the negative impacts of these phenomena on local livelihoods. Traditional cropping systems, such as the beans-maize-squash composite and the preservation of native, well-adapted seeds, are combined with fruit-producing trees that reduce erosion and nutrient loss to assist in soil conservation. The spiritual and intrinsic value of forests and healthy ecosystems for local populations in these reserves highlight the benefits biodiversity provides to them and its importance as an ally for reducing disaster risk

The session will demonstrate the application of NBS (including eco-DRR and ecohydrology) approaches to reduce environmental disasters based on case studies from multiple regions and continents, including intra-regional cooperation. The solutions aim to contribute to research and policy development through scientific and indigenous knowledge to implement integrated NBS and identify solutions for sustainable development and to validate the effectiveness of the approaches. Implemented solutions include the preservation and maintenance of traditional structures and adoption of traditional practices to enhance ecosystem adaptability and resilience to climate change, restoration and conservation of vital ecosystems such as seagrass and mangroves as carbon sinks and natural buffers from cyclones, construction of artificial dunes to combat coastal erosion, use of dune-forming fences to protect against desertification, and planting of deep-rooting plants as barriers to saltwater intrusions.

The overall aim of the session is to:
  • Improve understanding of opportunities and limitations of NBS to address global environmental and societal challenges.
  • Share experience on NBS co-creation based on scientific and local knowledge towards establishing a coherent approach toward risk mitigation.
  • Present new methods and tools to investigate the role of NBS in the context of environmental risk reduction.
  • Present new insights, methodologies, tools and best practices enabling successful implementation and upscaling of NBS in multiple contexts.
  • Identify opportunities for and barriers to NBS within current policy and regulatory frameworks and management practices.

avatar for Nair-Bedouelle, Shamila

Nair-Bedouelle, Shamila

Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO
Shamila Nair-Bedouelle took up her new duties as Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences on 1 April 2019.She comes to UNESCO from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where she had served as Director of the OzonAction programme since 2012. Responsible for implementing... Read More →
avatar for Soichiro Yasukawa

Soichiro Yasukawa

Chief of DRR Unit, UNESCO
Soichiro Yasukawa has MS in architecture from Kyoto University and MS of public administration from Columbia University. Soichiro Yasukawa has been a Programme Specialist on disaster risk reduction (DRR) at Natural Sciences Sectors of UNESCO since 2013 and been a specialist on geo-hazards... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Elsa Sattout

Dr. Elsa Sattout

EES Program Specialist, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States
Dr. Elsa Sattout joined UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States in Cairo in June 2017. She is currently managing the Ecology and Earth Sciences Programme in the Arab region. She is an Interdisciplinary Professional with 24+ years of experience in international, regional... Read More →
avatar for Alejandra Reyes

Alejandra Reyes

Head of the Department of Protected Areas, ICF
She is a Forest Engineer and has extensive experience in the management of protected areas, representing Honduras in different forums and conferences related to this issue. She currently leads the Department of Protected Areas at the National Institute of Forest Conservation and Development... Read More →
avatar for Silvana Di Sabatino

Silvana Di Sabatino

Full Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Universita’ bologna
Prof. Silvana Di Sabatino (f), full Professor of atmospheric physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna. She holds a PhD and MPhil from the University of Cambridge (UK) in the area of environmental fluid mechanics, a degree in Physics from the... Read More →
avatar for Fabrice Renaud

Fabrice Renaud

Head of School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Fabrice Renaud is a Professor of Environmental Risk and Community Resilience at the University of Glasgow's School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Dumfries, which he joined in February 2018.He is also a Research Director for the National Centre for Resilience, an organisation which... Read More →
avatar for Ismu Ismunandar

Ismu Ismunandar

Alternate Permanent Delegate of Indonesia to UNESCO
Professor in Inorganic Chemistry at Institut Teknologi Bandung, member of Indonesia Academy of Science.Currently, Alternate Permanent Delegate of Indonesia to UNESCO.His previous assignment include Senior Advisor to Ministry of Research and Technology/National Agency for Research... Read More →
avatar for Gretta Muhimpundu

Gretta Muhimpundu

Chair of the Business Development Committee, Rwanda Young Water Professional
Gretta Muhimpundu is a member of Rwanda Young Water Professional (YWP) and she is currently chairing the Rwanda YWP’s Business Development Committee which is in charge of developing, preparing and contributing to writing proposals for grant applications on Climate change adaptation... Read More →
avatar for Dr Joanes Atela

Dr Joanes Atela

Director of Partnership at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)
Dr Joanes Atela is the Director of Partnership at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and the lead for the Nairobi Risk Hub part of the Urban Multi-hazard Research and Policy Hub in Tomorrow’s Cities funded by UK’ Research and Innovation’ Global Challenge Research Fund (NUKRI-GCRF). Joanes was also the Director of the Climate Change Programmme at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) where he transformed the programme to become... Read More →

Thursday September 22, 2022 9:00am - 11:00am EDT