Natural Climate Solutions must be nature-based, sustainable, climate-additional, measurable, and equitable, new study finds.

Briefing Room 23.01.24


Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) play a role in both short- and long-term climate change mitigation together with vital benefits for biodiversity and people alike. Scientists across several organisations have now agreed on five principles that outline what and how these actions must be implemented.

“The Principles of Natural Climate Solutions”, a new scientific research paper that has been peer-reviewed and published today (23) in the journal Nature Communications, was led by The Nature Conservancy and authored by a diverse group of experts from seven organizations and provides guidelines for incentivizing and implementing global efforts to protect, better manage, and restore nature.

With the potential to deliver a third of the necessary global greenhouse gas emission reductions, NCS—which involve protecting, better managing, and restoring forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, and wetlands— offer a cost-effective and readily available means to combat climate change.

The key principles outlined in the paper—nature-basedsustainableclimate-additionalmeasurable, and equitable—establish a comprehensive framework for identifying and implementing high-integrity NCS. This framework ensures that investments in NCS can be made confidently—yielding real-world, cost-effective, and measurable impact.

We hope this paper helps more clearly define the conversation so we can move swiftly from talking about natural climate solutions to implementing them.

Peter Ellis, Global Director, Natural Climate Solutions Science and leading author of the paper

By adhering to these principles, practitioners can activate effective and equitable NCS, enabling the rapid adoption needed to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

The five principles for Natural Climate Solutions are:

  1. Nature-based: Natural climate solutions result from the human stewardship of ecosystems and do not move ecosystems further from their natural state.

  2. Sustainable: Natural climate solutions sustain biodiversity, food production, fiber and wood production and climate adaptation services.

  3. Additional: Natural climate solutions provide additional climate mitigation that would not happen without intervention; with durable mitigation outcomes and are not used to compensate for emissions that need to be avoided to avoid climate crisis.

  4. Measurable: Natural climate solutions must quantify their climate benefit as consistently and completely as possible; with conservative accounting.

  5. Equitable: Natural climate solutions respect human rights and Indigenous self-determination.

Learn more about the principles

Read the full paper

“We’ve done the research and the science is clear: To keep global temperatures in check, the land sector must reach net zero emissions by 2030 – a more challenging decarbonization target compared to any other sector. It is imperative that we achieve two things at once: high integrity, high volume natural climate solutions, along with rapid decarbonization of all sectors.”

Bronson Griscom, Vice President of Natural Climate Solutions at Conservation International