Nature-based and nature-inspired solutions for reaching the targets set out in the Paris Agreement are indispensable for a healthy planet and for climate change mitigation and adaptation. They focus on harnessing the inherent potential of nature to find adaptive ways of tackling the climate crisis.
Together with the decarbonization of the energy sector, nature-based and nature-inspired solutions can contribute to reaching the climate change targets set out in the Paris Agreement, reducing the risks associated with climate change, and creating climate-resilient societies. The topics of biodiversity and the climate are closely intermeshed, as diverse ecosystems play an important role in multiple issues including global heating. Environmental protection must work to maintain nature and ecosystems that take up and store carbon in an intact state to protect the climate. Diverse, near-natural ecosystems possess greater resilience toward climate change and represent an important resource for adaptation to climate change in locations around the world. This is relevant for many sectors including agriculture, forestry, tourism, urban planning, and water management.
Protecting and restoring ecosystems and managing them sustainably is essential if climate change impacts like droughts and flooding are to be tackled effectively and adaptably. Directly applicable nature-based solutions can be used effectively in agriculture, to take one example. Agroforestry, which involves planting rows of trees and shrubs alongside other crops, can reduce the impact of droughts while also increasing species diversity and creating new income streams for farmers. Perennial crops and species-rich grasslands can also contribute to sustainable agriculture. Thinking in terms of the circular economy and the bioeconomy leads to many such directly applicable solutions that enable energy savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. While the circular economy encompasses all sectors independently of the types of resources they use, the bioeconomy is focused on the sectors and systems that draw on biological resources: animals, plants, microorganisms, and biomass (including organic waste) derived from these sources. The circular economy and the bioeconomy are currently linked only relatively loosely in both theory and practice, but the potential to create greater synergies exists, for example by designing products and infrastructure for a circular bioeconomy and optimizing cooperation and information management between stakeholders located along the value chain. Many new processes from biotechnology can assist with the transition from the fossil fuel economy to a climate-neutral economy with different approaches to producing, processing, and using raw materials and products. Microorganisms—bacteria, yeasts, fungi and algae—account for most of the total biomass on our planet and will have a major role to play in this transition. With its emphasis on recycling management and sustainability, fungal biotechnology is an example of a driver of innovation in the bioeconomy. Modern fungal biotechnology can achieve various purposes—such as promoting the growth of crops and stabilizing soils—and be used to manufacture products as diverse as medicines, enzymes, organic acids, antibiotics, and biofuels. Building new urban settlements and housing from wood-based materials can also drastically reduce the quantities of carbon-intensive steel and concrete required. Creating a new value chain as urban infrastructure supporting the use of wood in urban construction products must be targeted.
The effects of human action on the planetary environment are another relevant aspect. This requires a conception of health that considers changed global circumstances and their significance for health and illness within a framework of interdisciplinary approaches. The field of “planetary health” concerns itself with connections between political, economic, and social systems, the natural systems of our planet that the continued existence of human civilization depends on, and human health.