To stop the worst impacts of the climate crisis, governments set out in the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. This implies rapid and deep decarbonisation - a transition from fossil fuel to a renewable-energy based economy. It is also clear that deep cuts in greenhouse gas emission alone are not enough, and that nature with her ability to draw down carbon from the atmosphere is a great ally in the fight against climate change. This report shows that more and more countries are recognising through their international pledges that nature can be a climate hero.
Nature-based solutions (NbS) provide an opportunity we cannot afford to miss to have a chance at averting the worst impacts of climate change and ending the destruction of natural ecosystems and their essential services. Encompassing
a wide range of interventions for ecosystem conservation, management and restoration, NbS will play an essential role
to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.1 They are also critical to stop and reverse the unprecedented loss of ecosystems and to build resilience against climate change impacts, while also providing additional benefits for sustainable development and the livelihoods of people across the world.
The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 192 out of 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It explicitly recognises the importance of the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of
sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, and notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including oceans, and the protection of biodiversity in its preamble and under its Article 5 states that Parties should take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1 (d), of the Convention, including forests. Where these sinks and reservoirs includ[e] biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. This reflects the growing recognition that climate change, biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems are interconnected and have devastating consequences for our economic and social stability, health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this fact clear, with a growing body of literature pointing to a direct link between the destruction of nature and disease outbreaks.2
Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are a key vehicle for Parties to the Paris Agreement to communicate their climate plans and are critical to the achievement of its 1.5°C goals. Countries have been submitting new or updated NDCs over the past two years. NDCs are also an important platform to formulate country ambitions in relation to NbS for climate. WWF’s #NDCsWeWant Checklist aims to shine a spotlight on all kinds of progress, encourage best practices, identify key challenges and call out laggards, with the goal of increasing the overall ambition of the NDC process. NbS are considered
as an important area in a NDC’s contribution to sustainable development, alongside linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To complement the work on the #NDCsWeWant, this report focuses on the integration of NbS in NDCs3. As of October 12, 2021, 140 Parties to the UNFCCC (which includes the EU-27 representing 27 member states of the European Union) have submitted 114 updated or revised NDCs4. Parties with an updated NDC assessed in this report represent 42% of global emissions and it is worth bearing in mind that there is still a big gap, both in big emitters stepping forward with ambitious targets and in closing the gap to pursuing efforts of keeping global warming to 1.5°C. This report assesses how these updated NDCs integrate NbS, and how this has changed compared to their previous versions.