Editorial: Nature-based solutions

INDEED, disaster risk reduction and management need not always be an engineering issue. In fact, nature has always been there all along, providing natural barriers to disasters, but humans have opted to destroy the environment instead and have thus been in the path of nature's wrath.

That does not mean that nature-based solutions have not been recognized and are now gaining following.

This much is contained in the "Implementing Nature-based Flood Protection: Principles and Implementation Guidance" produced by Deltares, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the Program for Forests (PROFOR) at the World Bank, Ecoshape, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Recognizing the effectiveness of nature-based solutions as well as hybrids of nature-based and hard engineering solutions that include building of embankments, dams, levees, and channels for flood control, this report helps those in a position to provide solutions the best practices that have been used, and those that have been found to have failed, for easy replication of the best practices and avoidance of the not-so-good solutions.

"Nature-based solutions make use of natural processes and ecosystem services for functional purposes, such as decreasing flood risk or improving water quality. These interventions can be completely “green” (i.e. consisting of only ecosystem elements) or “hybrid” (i.e. a combination of ecosystem elements and hard engineering approaches). Nature-based solutions can help mitigate flood (the focus of this document), drought, erosion and landslide. In addition, they may help decrease vulnerability to climate change while also creating multiple benefits to the environment and local communities. These include sustaining livelihoods, improving food security, and sequestering carbon. Such solutions can be applied to river basins (e.g. reforestation and green embankments), coastal zones (e.g. mangroves and wetlands), and cities (e.g. urban parks)," the report said, noting the increasing interest on adapting these for resilience-building strategies, sustainable adaptation, and disaster risk management portfolios.

This document is worth a read, especially by planning and development officers as well as local executives, a highly recommended reading.