Nature-based Solutions for Climate Resilient and Circular Food Systems

Food systems are not delivering what is expected or needed to ensure their contribution to full societal wellbeing. Climate change in combination with population growth and prevailing governance arrangements put food systems’ strive for food security at risk, exacerbate the pressures on ecosystems and undermine its social and economic aims like delivering a healthy diet and produce equitable benefits . More specifically, these drivers aggravate food systems’ inability to:1) to feed the population, 2) to deliver a healthy diet, 3) to sustainability/maintain the environment and /or 4) to produce equal and equitable benefits New pathways that address one or more of these so-called food systems’ failures (or challenges) need to be developed.

The concept of ‘nature-based solutions’ is recently introduced specifically to promote nature as a means for providing solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation challenges in different domains (IUCN, 2012) . Nature-base solutions is a contested term without one single and clear definition.  For now we follow the EC and consider nature-based solutions as interventions that aim to help societies to address a variety of environmental, social and economic challenges in sustainable ways. They are actions which are inspired by, use or copied from nature . Nature-based solutions are considered to offer multiple ecological, economic and social benefits simultaneously and therefore efficiently. Nature-based solutions are claimed to positively contribute to food security under climate change conditions (IUCN, 2012). However, the knowledge underpinning this claim is fragmented and insufficiently existent (Nesshöver et al., 2017) .

This project aims to improve our understanding about nature-based solutions in the context of food systems at risks due to climate change. The project will generate knowledge about pathways and interventions that are inspired by or make use of natural processes and aim to help food systems to become more climate resilient and circular in the long term while at the same time food safety is ensured. Considering the increasing claims for land that climate action requires (as well as the energy and protein transitions), the project will specifically examine nature-based solutions supporting the multifunctional use of land and reuse of biomass and water.

In 2020, two case studies will start to improve understanding of different types of nature-based solutions, including their underpinning mechanisms as well as their potentials and limitations in achieving food security and maintaining (and/or increasing) biodiversity and circularity under climate change. Specific attention will be put on the barriers and drivers in the implementation and scaling of nature-based interventions to better understand the potentials of nature-based solutions in the transition towards climate resilient and circular food systems.


>> Project update December 2020


Use Cases

Blogposts on nature-based solutions

Background information: