Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into Community Climate Adaptation Planning

Arsum Pathak, Patty Glick, Lara J. Hansen, Laura E. Hilberg, Jessie Ritter, and Bruce A. Stein
Posted on: 3/31/2022 - Updated on: 9/20/2022

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As climate change poses increasing risks to communities across the country, the role of nature in addressing climate-related impacts is receiving heightened attention. “Nature-based Solutions” (NbS) can play an important role in community adaptation and resilience, not only by reducing climate-related risks but also through enhancing the quality of life for community residents.

Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into Community Climate Adaptation Planning offers guidance for local communities, planners, and climate service providers for integrating natural and nature-based features into adaptation and resilience planning. A collaboration between National Wildlife Federation and EcoAdapt, this guidance was funded by the Climate Resilience Fund in support of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, and its “Steps to Resilience” planning framework.

Nature-based solutions—also known as natural infrastructure, natural defenses, natural climate solutions, and a variety of other terms—can encompass a wide range of options, from the conservation and reliance on still-intact natural systems, the restoration of degraded ecosystems, to the use of engineered systems designed to emulate natural system functions. Nature-based approaches can also be used in concert with structural options to form hybrid or “green-gray” systems for risk reduction.

The guide offers advice on how to integrate nature-based solutions into each phase of the “Steps to Resilience” community planning process. The guide also summarizes approaches for overcoming barriers to the adoption of nature-based solutions and highlights funding and financing mechanisms that can help communities implement nature-based approaches.

To promote the adoption of nature-based solutions more broadly, the report identifies the following set of seven “key considerations” for incorporating nature-based solutions into community adaptation planning:

  • Recognize natural systems and processes as critical infrastructure
  • Consider climate impacts on priority natural assets
  • Consider equity implications in the design and application of nature-based solutions
  • Ensure nature-based solutions yield net positive biodiversity benefits
  • Seek to protect or restore critical natural infrastructure
  • Give natural features and processes space to function
  • Integrate nature-based solutions into existing planning processes

This guide is part of Climate Resilience Fund's (CRF) Coordination and Collaboration in the Resilience Ecosystem (CCRE) program, which awards grants to projects that support the development of the tools, services and resources that practitioners have identified as essential to scaling the efforts and catalyzing the investment needed to increase resilience to climate-related impacts across the United States.


Pathak, A., P. Glick, L.J. Hansen, L.E. Hilberg, J. Ritter, and B.A. Stein. 2022. Incorporating Nature-based Solutions into Community Climate Adaptation Planning. Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation and EcoAdapt.

Affiliated Organizations

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization, with more than 6 million members supporters and an affiliate network in 52 states and territories. The National Wildlife Federation’s mission is to “unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

EcoAdapt is at the center of climate change adaptation innovation. We provide support, training, and assistance to make conservation and management less vulnerable and more Climate Savvy. Over the past 200 years, great strides have been made in the world of conservation and now all of that is at risk because of climate change. EcoAdapt is working to ensure the success of these past efforts by delivering a framework for climate adaptation.

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