What do we know about Nature Based Solutions (NBS)?

Complex created in a former mining site with nature-based solutions, in which two forests were created, one tropical and the other Mediterranean.

The use of the term Nature Based Solutions (NBS) is coined and supported by the European Union, and they define it as solutions to environmental, social, and economic problems based on or copying solutions that exist in nature itself.

With regard to environmental problems, the most innovative techniques consist of exploring and imitating non-human organisms, in their adaptability to changing environments or extreme environmental situations.

Solutions that address the most prevailing challenges on earth, such as climate change, deforestation of forests, polluted soils, among others, providing benefits that allow maintaining human well-being without increasing the environmental footprint.

The biodiversity of the planet allows this to be a very vast field to explore, and we know that it survives any climatic event experienced to date, so it is a great field of study to find solutions that allow to improve effluents, or even reach accumulate and destroy them without affecting the environment in which they are produced.

In addition, biodiversity is reinforced, since it is in charge of doing the work and therefore it is maintained and developed in order to carry it out.

Although it is true that, for the moment, they are solutions that must be studied case by case, since they depend on the situation in which the challenge that requires a solution is found.

Each NBS has to be implemented according to the environment where it is implemented and taking into account its conditions.

In general, it is about taking advantage of resources that exist in nature closest to the place where intervention is required to prevent or avoid social, economic, or environmental risks in the area.

Nature based Solutions applied to industry

Applied to industry, Nature-Based Solutions have multiple benefits.

On the one hand, legal problems linked to non-compliance with environmental or population regulations are avoided, such as inappropriate waste, odors, noise, etc.

In addition, at an economic level, they are usually systems that operate at a very low cost, both in implementation and maintenance, and offer very good publicity in today’s world.

Waste treatment plants

Image of biogas production plant
Biogas production plants

One of the most widespread NBS are the plants for the use of waste for its transformation into energy, such as Biogas.

These plants at an industrial level take advantage of the waste generated in the production process to feed a digester containing microorganisms capable of decomposing all kinds of materials and in this process generate biogas useful for the propulsion of engines that generate electricity or the energy of the main production process.

In this case, all the actors involved benefit, the industry may become capable of supplying itself with energy, avoiding this cost, eliminating waste internally, and avoiding its discharge into the environment. The population benefits from a friendlier environment and nature are not overexploited in its assimilation of waste.

Reforestation of forests in wood industries

Example of nature-based solutions: Reforestation of forests in the wood industry
Reforestation in the wood industry, another example of NBS

Another widespread example is the reforestation of forests in lumber industries.

Reforesting, in addition to ensuring the self-sufficiency of raw material, ensures soil stability, avoiding possible floods, landslides, etc. that can put the health of workers, citizens and even the industry itself at risk.

Much research is being done, and in fact there are already cases in which it is carried out, of plant filters for wastewater.

These are beds where the water from the production process is poured and plant species are planted that manage to eliminate certain pollutants, assimilating them as food.

In each case, it is necessary to study which type of vegetation is the most suitable, taking into account all the known factors, but it is without a doubt a solution with great advantages.

These types of solutions are promoted and sometimes rewarded by international public organizations, such as the European Union or the UN, for their importance in achieving the 2030 sustainability goals.

They are solutions that have been proven effective and profitable for the private sector and that contribute to the mitigation of risks and natural disasters.

The sustainable development that nature-based solutions allow is important in the transition to a sustainable economy and society model in order to avoid the collapse of the planetary system that experts have been warning for decades.

NBS objectives according to the EU

photo of the flag of the European Union flying on a flagpole

The objectives set by the European Union regarding the NBS revolve around three axes.

More sustainable cities

The first refers to cities and how to make them sustainable since a greater concentration of population is expected in large centers and it is necessary to create healthy environments with available resources for these growing populations.

Efficient and profitable economic solutions

Second, it is to make these solutions economically efficient and profitable, so that companies increasingly adopt them, seeing their benefits and collaborating to meet the 2030 goals for a more environmentally friendly economy.

Good Practices in NBS

Third, they want to create examples of Nature Based Solutions that are already beginning to flourish in recent years, and that are being adopted by large companies and work profitably for them.

In short, Nature Based Solutions have come to make life more comfortable for citizens and the environment, at the same time that they generate economic use for the companies that operate in each area.

In this way, a more sustainable economic growth is promoted and that allows the maximum use of the limited resources of the planet.