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Increasing infrastructure resilience with nature-based solutions

There is general recognition and growing awareness that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can play an important role in increasing climate change resilience and ensuring the delivery of sustainable infrastructure services. However, NbS have not been widely deployed to enhance climate resilience in infrastructure projects in LAC and in addition, the private sector has not fully engaged or invested in the use of NbS (IDB and UNEP, 2019). Indeed, there is a wealth of academic research and literature on the potential and capacity of ecosystems to increase resilience of economic assets and communities, yet there is a large gap to fill between academic research and practical application.

Key points

Ensuring that NbS are systematically incorporated into decision-making will require concerted efforts on several fronts and enhanced partnerships including strong involvement of the private sector. First, there is a large unfinished agenda to strengthen the upstream policy and institutional framework in most countries that needs to be consolidated in order to unlock investments, attract the private sector, and ensure a sharp focus on natural capital and green infrastructure from the outset. Second, each individual project needs to be designed, built, and operated with an NbS approach. A forthcoming Market Assessment by IDB and UNEP (2020) examines barriers and enablers to private sector uptake of NbS in LAC. The assessment finds that throughout LAC;
• NbS are typically not mainstreamed into policy, legislation, and regulations and thus not reflected at the design and procurement stages of public infrastructure services.
• There is a need to improve access to capital markets, conditions and scalability of green financial instruments suitable for NbS investment in LAC.
• Defining and understanding the business case and revenue stream are important first steps to building support and securing finance for NbS projects.
• Project developers require additional data, methodologies, tools and know-how to incorporate NbS into the infrastructure cycle.