A webinar jointly organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), through its Education and Collective Learning Department-Training for Development Unit (ECLD-T4DU), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the need to raise awareness on the role that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) play in enhancing ecosystem services and addressing global societal challenges such as climate change, food security, and disaster risk, among others. Held on 23 November 2021 via Zoom and Facebook Live, the webinar titled “Nature-based Solutions: Working with nature to help address some of society’s most pressing challenges” formed part of SEARCA’s 55th Anniversary celebration with the theme, “Sowing Seeds of Innovation for Agricultural Transformation.”
In his welcome remarks, Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, reiterated the need for sustainable and nature friendly practices and innovation to accelerate agricultural transformation. He pointed out that the pandemic, climate change, and volatile economy greatly affect the food systems. The combinations of these and other factors made agriculture and rural development more challenging than ever. Thus, he challenged everyone to look at the macro level while working on the micro level. He said that the global standard on nature-based solutions that IUCN launched last year after a series of consultations will be a handy tool in mainstreaming NbS into research activities and projects.
On the other hand, Dr. Dindo M. Campilan, IUCN Regional Director for Asia and Director for Oceania Hub, provided the context and cited the importance of the global standard on NbS in his welcome remarks. He mentioned that the ecosystem-based adaptation, landscape approaches, and ecosystems framework have all contributed to what is now known as nature-based solutions. Dr. Campilan noted that as approaches like NbS become popularized, there is a tendency for it to be overused and misunderstood. Thus, the webinar is crucial for sharing a common understanding on NbS and the global standard of IUCN.
The webinar was organized into three (3) sessions. The first session featured Mr. Raphael Glemet, Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands Science and Strategy Group, IUCN Asia Regional Office, who discussed the NbS concept, background, definition, and key examples of NbS applications in Southeast Asia representing the range of ecosystems services and societal challenges that can be addressed by NbS interventions. Ms. Maeve Nightingale Senior Programme Officer, Asia Regional Coastal and Marine Programme, IUCN Asia Regional Office, served as Resource Speaker for the second session, which deep dived into the IUCN Global Standards for NbSTM. The third and last session featured two case studies, as follows: 1) Flood-based agriculture (FbA) as a NbS to restore the ecosystem functions of the Upper Mekong Delta floodplain in Vietnam, presented by Dr. Andrew Wyatt, Deputy Head of the Indo-Burma Group of IUCN Asia; and 2) The Marshland Farming System and Its Implications to Sustain Livelihoods and the Environment in Marshland Local Communities: The Case of Ligawasan Marsh, Maguindanao, Philippines by Mr. Nasrudin Abdulkadir Buisan, Faculty, Cotabato State University, Philippines. In the first case study, Dr. Wyatt discussed how NbS, such as flood-based agriculture, can address the multiple objectives of biodiversity conservation and building climate resilience in the Mekong Delta. In the second case, Mr. Buisan presented the results of his study in Ligawasan Marsh in Maguindanao, which showed how the farmers’ traditional farming method has made their farming activity more resilient from external shocks and reduced the negative impact on the environment. In terms of the IUCN Global Standard for NbS, Ms. Nightingale said that this traditional farming practice needs to be preserved, scaled up and influence the broader conservation of the Ligawasan Marsh. Furthermore, there is also a need to promote the understanding and knowledge arising from this farming system to local policy makers and ultimately the national policymakers for sustainability and mainstreaming.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head of SEARCA’s Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), commended the resource speakers for sharing the different ways that NbS could address the various challenges that societies are currently facing. Dr. Orencio said that that the potential of NbS to address societal challenges must be harnessed. The IUCN NbS tools and standards would help in establishing perspectives so that collective efforts would effectively contribute to the shared goals and objectives for sustainability. Lastly, he encouraged everyone to continuously promote and advocate NbS at various levels.