- Climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and magnitude of disasters, leading to a higher number of deaths, injuries and increased economic losses.
- Nature-based solutions, such as conserving forests, wetlands and coral reefs, can help communities prepare for, cope with, and recover from disasters, including slow-onset events such as drought.
- Nature can be a cost-effective and no-regret solution to reducing risks from disasters, complementing conventional engineering measures such as sea walls and storm channels.
- However, investment in ‘natural infrastructure’ is underexplored in policies aimed at reducing risk.
- There is an urgent need to invest in nature-based solutions to disaster risk reduction in order to minimise our vulnerability to future events.
Nature-based solutions, such as conserving forests, wetlands and coral reefs, can help communities prepare for, cope with, and recover from disasters, including slow-onset events such as drought. They can also reduce the secondary impacts from non-climate-related disasters such as landslides following an earthquake.
Forests and other vegetation help stabilise slopes and therefore reduce the risk of landslides. Wetlands can help regulate floods. Coastal vegetation and natural features such as sand dunes and mangroves can provide protection from storm surges, strong winds and cyclones. Healthy coral reefs can reduce wave energy during coastal storms.
Nature-based solutions also generate local employment and economic opportunities, reducing the need to import technical expertise and labour as in the case of engineering and construction. Investment in these solutions to reduce risk can therefore be included in public-sector stimulus packages and social development programmes.