A new publication on One Earth has found evidence that Nature-based Solutions can contribute to transformative change towards sustainable trajectories

The global environmental crisis calls for transformative approaches to sustainability. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) have great resonance in science and practice, but their ability to bring about transformative change has not been assessed. A new publication in One Earth provides evidence that NbS can contribute to transformative change towards sustainable trajectories.

The publication “Assessing Nature-based solutions for transformative change” led by BC3 Associate Researcher and CNRS-Université Grenoble Alpes researcher Ignacio Palomo, and with the collaboration of researchers Unai Pascual and Noelia Zafra, has evaluated 93 NbS from mountain regions around the world under a transformative change lens . This study shows evidence of the potential of NbS for transformative change towards sustainable trajectories, mainly through a combination of diverse nature´s values and types of knowledge, community participation processes and ecosystem management practices.


“We found that nature-based solutions are as much “nature-based” as “human-based”, and that successful examples have in common diverse human values about nature and types of knowledge, community participation processes, and management practices such as restoration, ecosystem monitoring and nature protection” says researcher Ignacio Palomo. Evidence of transformative change has been fund through substantial changes of non-sustainable trajectories of social-ecological systems and strong re-structuration of social and ecological elements, such as ecosystems or stakeholder networks. The framework provided by this study, the authors argue, will serve for the long term monitoring of NbS, one of the most promising socio-environmental solutions, and the evaluation of transformative change processes in practice.

You can access the publication at the following link




Palomo., I., Locatelli, B., Otero, I., Colloff, M., Crouzat, E., Cuni-Sánchez, A., Gómez-Baggethun, E., González-García, A., Grêt-Regamey, A., Jimenez-Aceituno, A., Martín-López, B., Pascual, U., Zafra-Calvo, N., Bruley, E., Fischborn, M., Metz, R., & Lavorel, S. (2021). Assessing Nature-based solutions for transformative change. One Earth. DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.04.013

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Global sustainability targets demand transformative changes. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are gaining traction in science and policy, but their potential for transformative change remains unexplored. We provide a framework to evaluate how NbS contribute to transformative change and apply it to 93 NbS from mountain social-ecological systems (SES). The framework serves to assess what elements may catalyze transformative change, how transformative change occurs, and what its outcomes are. Our results show that NbS are as much “people based” as “nature based.” Most NbS are based on four elements with transformation potential: nature’s values, knowledge types, community engagement, and nature management practices. Our results confirm the potential of NbS for transformative change, observed through changes in non-sustainable trajectories of SES. We illustrate the components of our framework through a novel classification of NbS. The framework provides key components for assessing the effectiveness of NbS and allows tracking long-term transformative change processes.

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María de Maeztu Excellence Unit 2023-2027 Ref. CEX2021-001201-M, funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033

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