Can nature-based solutions deliver on their promise?

Flower meadow

Join this online event for Setting the Table for COP28: Can nature-based solutions deliver on their promise?

31 October 2023, 17:00 GMT

There is huge interest from policy makers, industry and NGOs in ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS). This concept refers to activities that involve harnessing natural processes in ways that provide benefits both for human wellbeing and for biodiversity, with examples including the protection, restoration or construction of wetlands, green roofs in cities, or tree planting in and around cities to absorb floodwaters.  

However, while the idea has been greeted with enthusiasm by many, it has also attracted strong criticism from others. Concerns include the fact that NBS projects may be poorly implemented, or that they have been co-opted by corporate interests, in ways that both over-simplify and commodify nature. In particular, in the context of climate change and the focus on net zero, there are fears that NBS simply becomes another form of carbon credit, linked to carbon trading schemes which serve as offsets of dubious quality and which also distract from the need to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Additionally, by relying on simplistic approaches such as get-rich-quick planting of fast growing tree monocultures, so-called nature-based solutions make the nature crisis worse rather than better. An equally strong criticism is that NBS are often implemented without involving - and even at the expense of - local communities and Indigenous Peoples, who, in the name of nature restoration, may be displaced from their lands. Finally, what about food? We need land for nature, for people to live on - and crucially, we also need it for producing food. So what does a NBS solution look like when it takes the human need for food security into account?

Join TABLE for a panel discussion bringing together speakers who look at NBS from different perspectives. Should the concept be abandoned and replaced with an alternative; if so and what might that be - solutions that are not nature-based, or something else altogether?  What would a ‘solution’ that takes account of biodiversity, carbon, social justice and food look like?



  • Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International
  • Ana Yang, Chatham House
  • Nathalie Seddon, Nature-based Solutions Initiative in the Department of Biology at the University of Oxford
  • one additional speaker TBC
  • Dr Tara Garnett, Director of TABLE (Chair)

>> Register online



TABLE is a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Wageningen University & Research.

TABLE is a global platform for knowledge synthesis, for reflective, critical thinking and for inclusive dialogue on debates about the future of food.

>> About TABLE


Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash. Agroecosystems, including meadows and natural grasslands, cover about 48% of the EU land area, according to a 2020 EU report. However, "within this area, only 14.3% of grassland habitats are in a favourable conservation status and 83% of habitats dependent on adequate agricultural management are in inadequate conservation status." For stunning images of a Central European meadow, see the trailer to Jan Haft's award-winning documentary (in German). Find out more about land degradation and restoration in the IPBES assessment report.