A Wave Of Technologies Uses Nature To Fight The Climate Crisis

Drone technologies for replanting. Satellite and eDNA data for monitoring biodiversity and natural capital. Blockchain for transparent carbon transactions. Increased processing power, better algorithms, machine learning and widely available data. A wave of technologies is accelerating natural climate solutions, and experts say they could together deliver about a third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to meet the 1.5ºC target of the UN’s Paris climate agreement.

In fact, nature-based solutions are estimated to have the potential to lift one billion people out of poverty, create 80 million jobs, add an additional $2.3 trillion in growth to the global economy, and also prevent $3.7 trillion in climate change. Now it is up to investors to recognize this potential and direct the funds to where they are needed.

A new white paper, “What you can measure, you can manage: How nature technology can help us solve the climate and nature crises,” hopes to increase interest, inspire action and ultimately stimulate investment in the nature-based solutions sector – as well as highlight the potential pitfalls and how they can be avoided. Natural climate solutions are methods of reducing carbon emissions and storing them in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands.

Examples of large images are:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), related to land use
  • Capturing and storing additional CO2 from the atmosphere and maintaining its flow to existing sinks
  • Enhancing ecosystem resilience and adaptability, thereby helping communities adapt to increases in the impacts of our changing climate

These solutions are often complex and interconnected. Better land management has a positive resultant impact on other critical environmental, social and economic factors. Reflective interactions that take a holistic approach promote greater societal and human gains.

The role of clean technology in accelerating climate action is well known: despite economic turmoil in 2022, investments in climate technology companies passed $19 billion in the first 6 months of the year. But when it comes to tackling the climate crisis and critical loss of biodiversity, nature technology’s potential to accelerate critical climate action is sometimes overlooked.

What is Nature Tech?

“Nature tech” describes technologies that can accelerate the implementation of nature-based solutions on a large scale. They mimic the earth’s ecosystems or promote nature’s ability to regenerate. Considering that 44 trillion dollars – over half of the world’s GDP – is moderately or highly dependent on nature, investing in nature technology is smart, both financially and for the planet.

It is generally divided into 4 categories: implementation; monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), transparency and connectivity. Technologies such as LiDAR and open source solutions hold great potential to improve the resolution and reduce the cost of MRV, leading to greater accountability in nature-based solutions. Mobile apps can connect local communities with information sources, other people and higher paying markets for their products, helping to promote sustainable use of natural ecosystems.

Nature technology can play a crucial role in tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis by:

  • Effectively measuring the benefits that nature provides so that we can value and manage with a “big data” approach
  • Reduces costs and improves accuracy of data collection through machine learning and remote data capture
  • Increased transparency
  • Help address the historical lack of confidence in nature-based solutions as a tool to tackle climate change
  • Enabling and facilitating data collection, sharing and evaluation, helping stakeholders identify which projects are truly of high integrity and can have the greatest impact in reversing nature loss and tackling the climate crisis

The implementation dilemma

Due to limitations in measurement, carbon has often been used as a proxy for the amount of biodiversity, ecosystems, and societal benefits of nature’s abundant ecosystems. This is because the measures that deliver measurable climate reduction usually also provide a wide range of other benefits, such as water quality and increased biodiversity.

The metrics for these more complex features of natural systems are either much harder to measure or still evolving, but integrating nature into global financial models and systems means having the ability to measure and monitor existing systems, their losses and gains at specific places. It is important to set meaningful goals and hold those who do not reach them to account.

Contemporary data science is able, within the parameters of human knowledge, to handle complexity to provide simple, accurate scores and metrics. It can also help with prioritization – that is, optimizing and maximizing the results of nature-based solutions in a limited landscape.

It will require viewing nature as a classic “big data” problem, in that data analysis will have to digest billions of living things responding to many different variables in each location. Still, this kind of big data approach is not entirely current; But exciting tools and a wave of technologies are getting us there – bioacoustics, innovations that remove reliance on petroleum-derived chemicals, artificial intelligence services emerging to more precisely monitor and manage carbon sequestration.

The next step will be to determine the relevance, precision, accuracy and feasibility of these tools to effectively evaluate their utility in decision making. It will be necessary to identify exactly how much data is needed to intervene. Moreover, for these technologies to be credible and scalable, transparency and open sharing of data are essential.

Want to see how the wave of technologies is helping the areas of the world you know and love? Check out this fascinating database of case study selections.

Make the wave of technologies transparent

Nature4Climate is the driving force behind the new White Paper highlighted in this article. The organisation’s mission is to contribute to making natural climate solutions visible and to catalyze action on the ground. It is composed of 19 of the world’s leading conservation, multilateral and business organizations working to establish partnerships between governments, civil society, businesses and investors. Their goals focus on the urgency of protecting, restoring and funding nature-based solutions.

Nature-based solutions are available to implement today, are scalable and can transform key industry sectors such as forestry and agriculture. Nature Tech can help address the interconnected challenges of climate change and nature loss by supporting global climate, nature and sustainability goals. Given the point we’re at in both of these crises, we need all the innovation, speed and scalability of technology we can throw at it, working alongside the science and with the appropriate safeguards in place.


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