Natural Solutions Initiative


The Natural Solutions Initiative (NSI) out of ACT - Action on Climate Team, will research how to apply nature-based solutions (NbS) to tackle some of the most pervasive 21st century challenges; climate change, biodiversity, equity and reconciliation, and municipal service delivery. The NSI will accelerate the best available knowledge around the multiple roles that natural systems play in transitioning our regions and communities towards community low carbon resilience (LCR) and sustainability under rapidly changing conditions. 


ACT’s NSI aims to advance and recognize diverse knowledges, approaches and metrics to optimize natural solutions that address multiple societal challenges at different scales. Our goal is to coordinate a more systemic understanding of the value, uses and trade-offs associated with NbS, resulting in comprehensive implementation across scales and sectors (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Nature-based solutions will be considered at four scales of action over time, to identify best practice approaches, opportunities, and evaluative metrics to address and advance benefits across four key challenge areas.


Broadly speaking, NbS are those actions or strategies taken to protect, sustainably manage and/or restore natural or modified ecosystems, working lands and aquatic systems, or create novel ecosystems (IUCN, n.d.). Nature-based solutions encompass a wide range of ecosystem-based strategies that can help solve societal challenges by working together with nature in ways that “reflect cultural and societal values and enhance the resilience of ecosystems, their capacity for renewal and the provision of services” (IUCN, n.d.). 

NbS are gaining traction locally, nationally and globally for their ability to build regional and community resilience under pressing challenges. Specifically, NbS can multi-task to address a rapidly changing climate, aging infrastructure and service delivery, biodiversity loss, increasing inequities in our communities, and exposure for the most vulnerable, including limited progress on reconciliation with First Nations. 

ACT’s Natural Solutions Initiative (NSI) coordinates, prioritizes, and evaluates NbS. We differentiate between utilitarian approaches including the protection and expansion of existing natural assets and the advancement of engineered green and blue infrastructure, and healthy ecosystems approaches that emphasize inherent value beyond human interest and use, including spiritual value (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Nature-positive approaches emphasize overall ecosystem health and resilience over time, while nature-based solutions protect and expand natural assets and promote green/blue infrastructure that support the health and functioning to ensure critical community services over the short and long-term.

NSI Phases

ACT’s NSI (2021-2025) is divided into three phases that aim to develop a multifunctional NbS framework to address four challenge areas at four interdependent scales. 

Phase 1: Develop an NbS framework that multi-tasks across climate adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity, equity and reconciliation, and sustainable municipal service delivery.

Phase 2: Co-create NbS plans with relevant stakeholders across four scales of action—watershed, community, neighbourhood and building. 

Phase 3: Synthesize and share our learnings across networks and social media to mobilize best practices through an array of innovative resources and tools. 


IUCN. (n.d.). Nature-based Solutions. Retrieved November 2021, from IUCN: