Nature-based solutions are promising tools to help reduce the impact of climate change and contribute to the EU’s environmental objectives. A stakeholders’ workshop organised by CEN and CENELEC on Monday 23 May explored their many challenges and opportunities and discussed how standardization can support their successful implementation.
According to the UNEA, the United Nations Environment Assembly, in a March 2022 resolution, “nature-based solutions are actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems which address social, economic and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services, resilience and biodiversity benefits”. They have an enormous – even if still under-analysed – potential to address climate change.
In this context, standardization plays a key role to boost the uptake of nature-based solutions. To fully grasp and benefit from them, European stakeholders need up-to-date standards that can provide a common approach enabling trust, quality and coherence across sectors and applications, while targeting relevant solutions to specific conditions at the local level.
But how can these standards be developed? And what needs should they address? To discuss these important questions, on 23 May 2022 CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) and CENELEC (the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) held the online workshop ‘Standards For Climate: uptake of nature-based solutions in urban and rural areas’. A high number of participants from industry, policy, standardization organisations and other key stakeholders joined the conversation and contributed with relevant perspective to draft a path forward for European standardization on nature-based solutions with a specific focus on three priority areas: Green & Blue Infrastructure; Construction & Building; and Land-use & Soil.
The workshop was opened by Annika ANDREASEN, CEN Vice-President Technical, who set the scene for the discussions to come. Ms Andreasen said: “Standards have a key role to play in reinforcing a wider uptake of nature-based solutions in urban and rural areas. CEN and CENELEC can provide tools to key players to achieve a successful green transition for a sustainable, innovative and cost-effective greener European economy”.
She was then followed by a fire-side chat with two representatives from the European Commission’s DG CLIMA and DG ENVI. The conversation explored the EU’s objectives for a greener and climate neutral Europe and the particular role of nature-based solutions, in the light of a recent report on the topic published by the European Commission underlining the urgent need for standards for different types of nature-based solutions.
The second session of the workshop saw the presentation of three case-studies from academics, practitioners, and local government officers. The presentations highlighted the many benefits of nature-based solutions in urban and rural areas, together with the added-value of standards for their successful uptake.
This was followed in turn by a panel discussion on how standardization can particularly boost the implementation, impact monitoring and maintaining of nature-based solutions. Five panellists from a variety of backgrounds identified key common obstacles and priorities for cross-sectoral solutions to be addressed by standardization in order to support Europe’s green transition.
The event was concluded by Ronald BOON, the Chair of CEN and CENELEC SABE (Strategic Advisory Board on the Environment), who provided a wrap-up and outlined the next steps. Mr Boon commented: “The future of standardization for Nature-based solutions is still broad, and as we have seen today there is a real need for a coherent and coordinated set of holistic standards across the different sectors, to further support European stakeholders in the uptake of Nature-based solutions”.
The Stakeholders’ workshop is part of a series of CEN and CENELEC initiatives in support of the fight against climate change. This commitment is reflected in the fact that the green transition is a core driver of the joint CEN and CENELEC Strategy 2030. Furthermore, in January 2022, CEN and CENELEC signed the London Declaration, endorsing the commitment for climate actions of our sister organizations ISO and IEC. More recently, the two organisations also published a brand-new tool mapping CEN and CENELEC contributions to the 17 UN SDGs.
More information on the programme, presentations and the recording of the event will soon be available on CEN and CENELEC’s website.