Nature United, along with our global affiliate, announces the publication of “The Principles of Natural Climate Solutions,” a peer-reviewed paper that outlines five key principles for the global implementation of Natural Climate Solutions (NCS). Published in the journal Nature Communications, it was co-authored by our Global Director of Natural Climate Solutions Science, Peter Ellis, and our Canadian Natural Climate Solutions Program Director, ?ikaatius (Tyson Atleo).
The new paper provides essential guidance for activating effective, measurable and equitable NCS, offering a powerful tool to address the urgent challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Specifically, the key principles outlined in the paper — nature-based, sustainable, climate-additional, measurable and equitable — establish a comprehensive framework for identifying and implementing high-integrity NCS. This framework ensures that investments in NCS will yield real-world, cost-effective and measurable impact.
Principles of Natural Climate Solutions
Defining what constitutes real, high integrity natural climate solutions is critical so we can implement them effectively. These principles provide practical guidance on what constitutes a natural climate solution so that investments can be made with confidence. NCS must be nature-based, sustainable, climate-additional, measurable, and equitable.
Natural climate solutions are nature-based.
Principle 1.1: Natural climate solutions result from the human stewardship of ecosystems.
Principle 1.2: Natural climate solutions do not move ecosystems further from their natural state.
Natural climate solutions are sustainable.
Principle 2.1: Natural climate solutions sustain biodiversity.
Principle 2.2: Natural climate solutions sustain food production.
Principle 2.3: Natural climate solutions sustain fiber and wood production.
Principle 2.4: Natural climate solutions sustain climate adaptation services.
Natural climate solutions are additional.
Principle 3.1: Natural climate solutions provide additional climate mitigation that would not happen without intervention.
Principle 3.2: Natural climate solutions provide durable mitigation.
Principle 3.3: Natural climate solutions are not used to compensate for emissions that need to be avoided to avoid climate crisis.
Natural climate solutions are measurable.
Principle 4.1: Natural climate solutions must quantify their climate benefit as consistently and completely as possible.
Principle 4.2: Natural climate solutions accounting is conservative.
Principle 4.3: Natural climate solutions with uncertainty ranges greater than the estimated climate mitigation should be flagged as emerging.
Principle 4.4: Natural climate solutions accounting avoids double counting.
Natural climate solutions are equitable.
Principle 5.1: Natural climate solutions respect human rights.
Principle 5.2: Natural climate solutions respect Indigenous self-determination.
“Science has shown us that we need nature in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Ellis says. “But confusion about what constitutes a NCS remains a barrier to advancing these essential practices effectively. We hope this paper helps more clearly define the conversation so we can move swiftly from talking about natural climate solutions to implementing them.”
"NCS are critically important tools that, when done right, can provide significant benefits to climate, biodiversity and people,” Atleo adds. “In Canada, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by up to 78 Mt CO2e annually in 2030 by adopting NCS — equal to 11% of the country’s 2021 carbon emissions. There’s incredible potential in sectors like agriculture and forestry to simultaneously lead in carbon sequestration while supporting healthier communities and thriving ecosystems”
“We hope the certainty and clarity provided by this guidance affords governments, industries, rights-holders and stakeholders the confidence to implement the NCS that meet their needs and contexts and have immediate and lasting positive impact. By adhering to these principles, practitioners can activate effective and equitable NCS, enabling the rapid adoption needed to address the climate and biodiversity crises." added Atleo.
Quote: ?ikaatius (Tyson Atleo)
The paper, grounded in leading scientific research and authored by a diverse group of experts from seven different organizations, including Nature United and our global affiliate The Nature Conservancy (TNC), provides guidelines for incentivizing and implementing global efforts to protect, better manage and restore nature. The research emphasizes the critical role NCS can play in both short- and long-term climate change mitigation together with innumerous co-benefits — for people and nature alike. With the potential to deliver a third of the necessary global greenhouse gas emission reductions, NCS — which involve protecting, better managing and restoring forests, grasslands, agricultural lands and wetlands — offer a cost-effective and readily available means to combat climate change.
“We can’t implement NCS without people, which is why having a human rights-based approach to NCS is critical to its success,” says Vanessa Carrasco Denney, Natural Climate Solutions Science Program Manager for TNC. “We have to carefully consider the local contexts and equity implications of each project, paying special attention to respecting human rights and the self- determination of all rightsholders involved. Implementing NCS projects with high scientific and social integrity is not only the right thing to do but will also help ensure the long-term success and viability of these solutions.”
This publication continues to build on the work that Nature United is doing to advance NCS. In 2021, Nature United collaborated with 16 institutions and 38 leading experts from academia, governments and non-governmental organizations in Canada and the United States to analyze Canada-specific pathways to implement Natural Climate Solutions. This publication showcased the power of nature to cut Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The urgency of the climate crisis necessitates the swift global implementation of these solutions.
Nature United was founded as a Canadian charity in 2014, building on decades of conservation in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, our organization has field staff located across the country. Nature United supports Indigenous leadership, sustainable economic development and science and large-scale conservation, primarily in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba. Our organization is also working to accelerate Natural Climate Solutions at national and regional scales. To learn more, visit natureunited.ca or follow @natureunited_ca.
We are the Canadian affiliate of The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization with more than a million members and a diverse team that includes more than 400 scientists. Our global organization works in 79 countries — either directly or through partnerships — to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press.