IIASA researchers conducted several case studies and published two policy briefs informing policymakers about policy and financing barriers limiting the uptake of nature‑based solutions (NBS) compared to conventional grey infrastructure, as well as possible ways of overcoming them.

There is growing recognition that NBS can provide viable and cost‑effective solutions to a broad range of societal and environmental challenges, fostering the transition towards equitable and sustainable societies.

IIASA scientists conducted a comparative case study analysis in China, Germany, and Italy to identify how governance systems can constrain or support transformative adaptation and influence the efficiency of NBS  projects. As part of the study, researchers proposed a new framework for assessing transformative change and tested its usefulness in terms of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the procedures and outcomes  outlined in the case studies.

The analysis revealed a number of barriers including insufficient intent to scale NBS, for instance, through binding legislation and more permanent institutions. Overcoming those challenges will require urgent policy reforms if governments are to fulfill the United Nations’ ambition of tripling investments in nature by 2030 to meet climate and biodiversity targets. To tackle these and other hurdles facing NBS infrastructure, IIASA researchers proposed a set of potential policy reforms.

Researchers also identified the key governance enablers of NBS, which include inclusive engagement of stakeholders through co-design; the existence and further development of an evidence base on NBS performance and their co-benefits; and the further development of knowledge products and NBS-specific expertise