‘Nature based solutions’ (NBS) and soil carbon farming are increasingly popular concepts in climate and biodiversity protection, touted as key solutions to the environmental crises we are facing. But don’t be fooled! 

NBS as a concept is closely linked to the corporate capture of food policies and environmental governance. It is a bad idea, driven by corporations, and dressed up in beautiful imagery; a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The concept is so broad and vague that it can refer to anything from peatland restoration to monoculture plantations, and most recently, soil carbon farming.  

In these factsheets, we go into more detail on the latest developments in ‘nature based solutions’, and we explain why they are NOT a viable solution to the climate crisis, biodiversity loss or hunger. 

(1) ‘Nature Based Solutions’: A corporate smokescreen

More than 1,500 corporations, including many agribusinesses, have made ‘net zero’ emissions commitments in recent years. Many commit to using NBS to achieve their goal. But none of these corporations has pledged to stop burning fossil fuels or change their core business model – actions which are urgently needed to reduce pollution and prevent runaway climate change.

Find out which corporations are the key players pushing NBS, and why their pledges just don’t add up. 

(2) ‘Nature Based Solutions’: Ransacking agroecology’s transformative potential

Since 2020, there has been a growing tendency to present agroecology as a type of ‘nature based solution’ to climate and hunger crises. We saw this at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, for example. Yet NBS and agroecology are world’s apart. Agroecology is more than a farming practice, it is a movement to transform the broken food system and ensure people’s right to food. 

Find out how corporations are attempting to co-opt and undermine agroecology’s transformative potential.

(3) ‘Nature Based Solutions’: The risks of soil carbon markets

Over half of the organic matter in the world’s agricultural soils has been lost, driven by decades of industrial farming practices. As soil depletion reaches levels that jeopardise yields, corporations are looking to the new subsidies and incomes available through soil carbon farming. 

Find out who is benefitting from soil carbon markets, and the dangers for small farmers.