Friends of the Earth International rejects the concept of Nature Based Solutions (NBS).
NBS is often used as an umbrella term covering a range of schemes for climate and biodiversity protection. This paper sets out why 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.
Beneath the veneer NBS is firmly based in carbon and nature neo-colonialism, discredited market mechanisms and corporate greenwashing. 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. 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.
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.
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.