Solving the nature and climate data puzzle

Opinion 01.02.23

Posted by Chris Zganjar

In 2017, leading environmental organizations, universities, and research institutions from around the world brought nature into the spotlight, with unprecedented research that showed how protecting, restoring, and improving the management of natural and working lands can get us one-third closer to the Paris Agreement targets*.

A lot has happened since then. ‘Natural climate solutions’ and ‘nature-based solutions’ are now globally considered to be one of the most cost-effective solutions to tackle climate change and protect biodiversity. Dozens more research studies have been published in the wake of the original findings, continuing to validate nature’s profound contribution – alongside fossil fuel emission reductions – towards limiting the global temperature increase well below 2 °C.  But research papers alone will not get us there. This research must be supported by data, evidence and, crucially, collaboration.

You’d be mistaken if you thought this data and evidence gathering isn’t already happening. Quite the contrary. Innovative research and tools addressing the large data gap, which is needed to bridge planning and action, are being developed everywhere you look – each tackling a new and pressing challenge, from deforestation rates and finance gaps to mitigation opportunities. But more often than not, these developments are happening in a silo, with little communication and collaboration between projects. This results in a flood of data and confusion, leading to action paralysis. We inhabit an interconnected world and the climate crisis is a global and interconnected issue. The only way to respond effectively is with interconnected and collaborative action, which means we must first address the need for data sharing and integration.

Putting the pieces together

Geographies and biomes, carbon emissions, , political (and lack of) action, biodiversity, local communities and Indigenous land rights, real-world experience, funding schemes, monitoring and evaluation processes. Effective action requires information in all these areas and more. And projects are already taking place around the world. The question is: what can we learn from them?

With this question nagging us for over a year, a group of scientists and conservation experts took on the challenge of puzzling the pieces together. Our answer is driven by the beautiful complexity of natural ecosystems – only this time in a virtual space.

An online platform for nature

Naturebase will be a free online platform that helps people turn natural climate solutions planning into real-life action by showcasing the activities that can have the highest climate impact, as well as biodiversity and human-wellbeing benefits. The combined effort of people from 59 universities, 21 research institutions, 18 NGOs, and 12 government agencies from around the world are developing the data and information needed to show where and how nature can actively help reduce climate change by pulling carbon from the atmosphere and keeping it locked in our plants and soils.

Visitors to Naturebase will be able to:

  1. Explore and compare geographic areas and visualize how much carbon can be sequestered and stored across forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands.
  2. Factor in socioeconomic data, opportunity costs, and enabling conditions (such as policies and other governance considerations).
  3. Access implementation resources specific to the user’s context, such as policy and funding opportunities available, as well as relevant case studies.

More than just a collection of complex datasets, Naturebase aims to elevate the discussion around the effectiveness of nature-based solutions in the real world. A variety of real-world stories focusing on peoples’ experiences as they successfully protect, restore and sustainably manage their lands across different countries and regions are featured to inspire ambition and turn plans into concrete action.

The first set of stories is already out, focusing on forest protection and restoration in Panama, community-led technologies for planting and growing trees in Peru and Ghana and coastal protection and resilience in the Dominican Republic.

The final picture

The pieces to this complex puzzle are all there. In addition to mitigation, and with the help of partners, we are now diving into the integration of datasets across a variety of fields and platforms, from finance, policy, and biodiversity, to adaptation and IPLC tenure and rights.

Naturebase is joining forces with Nature4Climate, a coalition of organizations working with governments, civil society, businesses, and investors that has a proven track record of successfully promoting the critical role nature plays in restoring balance to our climate.

But the scale and nature of the changes we need to make to put nature-based solutions into action mean we need everyone on board. If this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, check out and subscribe to stay up to date on our progress and be one of our beta testers in 2023.

*Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec. 12, 2015, T.I.A.S. No. 16-1104.