Investing in nature to tackle multiple challenges not only makes sense, it creates returns which are much more than just cents.

Trees in Melbourne - nature-based solutions to a number of urban sustainability and human health challenges

What are Nature-based Solutions (NbS)?

Practically speaking, nature-based solutions are a way of working with nature to create multiple benefits – often benefitting human wellbeing, delivering economic returns, growing biodiversity, and often delivering urban sustainability outcomes too.

Sometimes that’s a case of adapting existing grey infrastructure like stormwater drains, and changing to ‘green infrastructure’ such as urban wetlands. Crucially, they can also enable resilience and adaptation to a changing climate.

Examples include green roofs and city parks that limit heat stress, mangroves which provide storm surge and wave protection, and kelp forests which capture and store carbon.

According to Naturvation, a European project funded by funded by the European Commission and involving 14 institutions across Europe in the fields of urban development, geography, innovation studies and economics,

“Despite their significant potential, the use of nature-based solutions remains marginal, fragmented, and highly uneven within and between cities. The use of grey infrastructure and technology-driven solutions continues to dominate urban development, from the design of wastewater systems to efforts to improve energy efficiency in the built environment.”


Why now?

It’s important to note that nature-based solutions aren’t new. In fact you could argue we’ve been investing in nature-based solutions as long as we’ve been sitting under trees, composting to build soil, and dabbling our feet in the pond in our town parks.

But as we increasingly recognise the need to tackle multiple interconnected challenges around the country – from the heat island effect to water quality, and community health and wellbeing to saving threatened species – we can see the need for solutions which create multiple forms of value, at once, for the same investment. Nature-based solutions are already delivering on that promise, and not just in urban areas – they also benefit healthy country through the likes of revegetation of our waterways to reduce agricultural impact and improve on-farm productivity, and sea country through the likes of oyster reefs which draw down carbon, protect against storm surges, and also create habitat for life below the waves.


We also know that Nature-based Solutions can deliver on multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the same time. From SDG 3 – Good Health & Wellbeing to SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure, and SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities to SDG 13 – Climate Action – Nature-based solutions have a lot to offer when we’re looking to transition to a brighter future.


Examples – NbS in Action

A couple of examples close to home, include:

Bannister Creek Living Stream

This seemingly small project in the City of Canning, WA, had grand plans – from engaging local community through practical planting initiatives, tackling flooding and erosion, restoring biodiversity, improving water quality, and even increasing value of local property.

Find out more

Melbourne Urban Forest

The Urban Forest Strategy from Melbourne City Council (VIC) aims to establish more trees (from 22% to 40% canopy) in order to adapt to climate change, tackle the urban heat island effect, create healthier ecosystems, become a water-sensitive city, educate and engage locals, and improve the wellbeing of residents and visitors alike.

Find out more


We’re also delighted to say that the team at CVA are already developing several projects which will deliver nature-based solutions through wetland restoration and urban shade projects from 2021 onwards.


Want to explore options for NbS in Australia?

If you'd like to talk to us about opportunities to invest in nature-based solutions in Australia, contact our Partnerships Team today.