In 12 sessions over three full days, we will discuss the value and limits of working with nature to meet societal goals in a warming world. We will highlight the state of the evidence for the social, ecological and economic effectiveness of nature-based solutions for dealing with the causes and consequences of climate change, and will address multiple contexts including oceans, cities, health, infrastructure, food and water security. Sessions will be two hours long and highly interactive. They will bring together evidence from both science and practice, as well as perspectives from multiple disciplines and sectors on the practical, financial and governance challenges to scaling up nature-based solutions.

The conference will be held in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. On the first night, there will be a buffet dinner amongst the natural history collections. On the second night, there will be a showing of films about NbS in action across the world. On the third night, there will be an open event in the Oxford Town Hall where we will bring together delegates with youth leaders from climate-nature activism and the general public.

Throughout the event, there will be plenty of opportunities for networking, including at poster sessions during tea/coffee and lunch breaks.

Here is an outline of the programme. Confirmed speakers (to date) are given below this table. More details about individuals sessions will be added over time. 

Session Session title
Scene-setting What are NbS? Definitions, Promise, Challenges
Session 1 Towards a better understanding of the value of nature for climate change mitigation

Convenors: Prof. Yadvinder Malhi and Cécile Girardin (University of Oxford)

We will explore the potential and limits of climate change mitigation through nature-based solutions in terrestrial and marine environments. We will highlight the latest evidence, discuss the relative importance of carbon and non-carbon impacts (e.g. albedo), and how best to synergise mitigation and adaptation actions. We will explore some of risks around nature-based approaches to climate mitigation, including tree planting in inappropriate ecosystems, the challenges of bioenergy and BECCS, the moral hazard of promoting nature-based solutions at the expense of fossil fuel emissions reductions, socio-political factors and land rights, and the need to direct NbS investment towards protecting and restoring native natural ecosystems.

Session 2 NbS for climate change adaptation and resilience

Convenors: Nature-based Solutions Initiative

We will review evidence from science and practice for the role of NbS in reducing exposure and sensitivity to climate change and building adaptive capacity and resilience, and highlight key knowledge gaps. NbS are widely claimed to provide holistic, transformative, and locally-responsive forms of adaptation. Through a series of case-studies encompassing a wide range of adaptation contexts, we will explore the extent to which these claims about NbS are supported by the evidence, and will assess assumptions about the links between nature, adaptation, and resilience. We will reflect on major cross-cutting issues such as scale, incentives as well as complexities around how people and ecosystems co-respond to climate change, and we will discuss how to overcome barriers that currently limit the broadscale implementation of NbS.

Session 3 Mainstreaming NbS for urban sustainability and climate change action

Convenors: Prof. Harriet Bulkeley (University of Durham & Naturvation) and Jonny Sadler (Manchester Climate Agency, GrowGreen)

We will introduce the role of urban NBS and give an overview of the latest global evidence of the potential of urban nature to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. We will provide example cases of how cities are working with NBS to address climate change on the ground and will discuss the importance of community engagement, finance and governance arrangements for successful implementation. And we will reflect on the challenges of mainstreaming NBS into urban development and identify priorities for research and practice.

Session 4 How biodiversity science informs Nature-based Solutions in policy and practice

Convenors: Dr Robin Chazdon (University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland), Dr Cécile Girardin and Prof Nathalie Seddon (NbSI, Oxford)

Biodiversity is the foundation of a healthy, resilient ecosystem.  In this session, we will explore whether and how biodiversity science informs the implementation of Nature-based Solutions in policy and practice. We will review the evidence and knowledge gaps on the extent to which biodiversity supports ecosystem and human resilience to the impacts of climate change in a variety of different contexts, and we will discuss the role of biodiversity in mediating social-ecological trade-offs. In a panel discussion, we will reflect on major cross-cutting questions, such as: What is the role of local knowledge about biodiversity in policy and practice? What are the key obstacles to biodiversity-based policy targets and implementation of NbS in different global regions? And, how should biodiversity science inform the development of global standards for NbS?

Session 5 NbS for health and wellbeing

Convenors: Dr Sarah Whitmee (Oxford Martin School)

Many actions and policies taken to protect nature can also deliver major improvements to human health and wellbeing. Better valuation and communication of these co-benefits can help engage policymakers and civil society to effect transformative change. To find solutions that benefit both people and the planet will necessitate overcoming a number of challenges including rethinking how we measure human progress, how we improve links between the fields of environmental science and global public health and how we encourage governments and large institutions to recognise and respond to these new opportunities. This session will lay out some of the key evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits of implementing NbS and will discuss how best to overcome challenges to scaling-up NbS for health.

Session 6 NbS for food security on land and in the oceans

Convenors: Prof. Claire Kremen (University of British Colombia) and Dr Neil Coles (University of Leeds and ThinkNature)

Food, along with water, is one of the basic required for sustained life.   As environmental, agricultural and aqua-cultural food production systems continue to degrade globally, and climate change is impacting the suitability of many food production practices in different regions, there is a perceived need to introduce climate resilience and sustainability into land and water management practices to ensure food security and contribute to ecosystem health.   Nature-based Solutions integrated into agricultural production systems, fisheries and forestry offer the potential to deliver improvements in both these key areas. This session offers a glimpse of the future in farming systems and food security and provides insights into the potential of alternative food production methods, that incorporate natural climate resilience and sustainability while delivering better ecosystem and public good outcomes.

Session 7 NbS for water security and climate resilience in an urban world

Convenors: Dr Lynn Scarlett (The Nature Conservancy) and Dr Dustin Garrick (University of Oxford)

Building on the foundation of science and results of the latest research on NBS for water security, we will bring forward stakeholders’ perspectives from different regions on how best to accelerate NbS uptake in the context of urbanisation and climate change. To date, urban water quality has been the main issue area; there is an increasing need to expand the NbS concept to also address water scarcity and quantity issues, as exemplified by the Cape Town and Chennai water crises in the past two years. Cities are interlinked to their surroundings, and these urban-rural linkages pose both conflicts and cooperation opportunities. The session aims to highlight NbS as mechanisms to address opportunities and transcend conflicts, including challenges around finance and governance.  We aim to present work from global and country/regions to bring forward on-the-ground programmes and hubs, experiences, and observations in terms of innovation, testing and scaling solutions.”

Session 8 Nature-based Solutions for development

Convenor: Dr Dilys Roe (International Institute for Environment and Development)

This session will explore the evidence that investing in nature delivers key development outcomes for poor countries and poor people including jobs, income, food security, health and resilience. We will present preliminary findings from an evidence review describing what kinds of developmental benefits have been derived from different types of NbS and from NbS programming in developing countries. We will showcase different case studies of NbS from forest restoration to ecotourism to agro-ecology and explore how nature can even be integrated into development policy tools such as social protection. Our session will also highlight when investing in nature has proved to be a problem for development rather than a solution and the challenges that need to be addressed to maximise synergies between conservation and development – a key concern for the post-2020 international biodiversity framework, or new deal for nature and people.


Session 9 Building the NbS community of science, policy and practice

Convenor: Nature4Climate

In this session, we will discuss what sort of alignment exists among the UN and Global Commission process with UNFCC, CBD, UNDRR, and SDGs. A myriad of informal and formal networks around NbS have developed since the past 5 years, how do we maximize the sharing of lessons across these networks?

Session 10 Needs and innovations for delivering integrated green and blue infrastructure solutions in human-dominated landscapes

Convenors: Neil Coles (University of Leeds) and Lucy Emerton (Environment Management Group)

These two sequential sessions address the theory and practice of delivering integrated green and blue infrastructure solutions in human-dominated landscapes. The focus is on using nature-based and hybrid approaches as an effective and economic means of supplying key services to city dwellers, at the same time as helping to better mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. It seeks to showcase innovative approaches and experiences at each stage of the infrastructure delivery pipeline, from design, through financing, to on-the-ground implementation.

Session 10A Design needs and innovations for integrated green and blue infrastructure solutions

We will address the theory and practice of delivering integrated green and blue infrastructure solutions in human-dominated landscapes. The focus is on using nature-based and hybrid approaches as an effective means of supplying key services to city dwellers, at the same time as helping to better mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. It seeks to showcase innovative approaches and experiences at each stage of the infrastructure delivery pipeline, from design, through financing, to on-the-ground implementation.

Session 10B Innovations in financing and valuing NbS - making the economic and business case

We will share best practice and lessons learned in how to mobilise adequate, appropriate and sustainable investments in NbS – among households, companies and industries, financial institutions, private investors, governments, multilateral agencies and the global community. There will be a particular emphasis on finding ways of closing the knowledge-policy-practice loop, and bringing together researchers, practitioners and investors to identify what kinds of information, actions and enabling conditions are needed to mainstream NbS into financial and economic decision-making.

Session 11 Nature-based business models and the business of nature

Convenor: Dr Ben Caldecott, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

This session will examine how cash flows and business models can be developed from creating and sustaining Nature-based Solutions. We will explore the opportunities and challenges in different key sectors of the global economy and examine how these issues may differ across jurisdictions, particularly between developed and developing countries. We will also assess how technology, regulatory change, and new practices can help enterprises to deliver NbS at the scale and pace required.
Session 12 Governing NbS - an opportunity for transformation

Convenors: Dr Thomas Hale (Blavatnik School of Government)

Nature-based Solutions depend on innovative and effective governance at local, national, and transnational scales. This session compares successes and challenges in NbS governance across developed and developing countries. What models can be replicated and scaled up? Looking ahead to the CBD COP15 in Kunming and the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, we also consider what international governance arrangements are needed to catalyse effective NbS.


Below is a list of confirmed speakers to date

  • Musonda Mumba | Chair, Global Partnership for Forest & Landscape Restoration (GPFLR)
  • Sandra Diaz | Professor of Ecology at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Co-Chair of the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment
  • Michael Obersteiner | Director of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University
  • David Nabarro | Co-Director of the Imperial College Institute of Global Health Innovation
  • Sandra Lavorel | Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, CNRS
  • Stewart Maginnis | Global Director of the NbS Programme at IUCN
  • Lynn Scarlett | Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at The Nature Conservancy
  • Colin Mayer | Professor of Management Studies (Said Business School, Oxford) and UK Natural Capital Committee
  • Mike Barrett | Executive Director of Conservation and Science, WWF-UK
  • Saleem Huq | Director of the International Institute for Climate Change and Development
  • Claire Kremen | Professor in Biodiversity, University of British Colombia
  • Rhian-Mari Thomas | CEO of the Green Finance Institute
  • Lucy Emerton | Environment Management Group
  • Robin Chazdon | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland
  • Mark Gough | Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition
  • Harriet Bulkeley | University of Durham and NATURVATION
  • Dustin Garrick | co-Director of the Smith School Water Programme, University of Oxford
  • Neil Coles | University of Leeds and ThinkNature
  • Yadvinder Malhi | Professor of Ecosystem Science, University of Oxford
  • Joe Tobias | Imperial College
  • Nathalie Seddon | Professor of Biodiversity, University of Oxford
  • Dilys Roe | International Institute for Environment and Development
  • James Lloyd and Lucy Almond | Nature4Climate
  • Justin Adams | CEO of the Tropical Forest Alliance (WEF)
  • Cameron Hepburn | Director of the Smith School for Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford
  • Henk Nieboer | Director of ECOSHAPE
  • Rhett Harrison | World Agroforestry Centre - CGIAR Consortium
  • Chris Kettle | Bioversity International and ETH Zurich
  • Silvana Di Sabatino | Professor, Universitá di Bologna and Project Lead of OPERANDUM
  • Pete Smith | Professor of Soils and Global Change, University of Aberdeen
  • Stephen Woroniecki | Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies
  • Caroline Lehmann | University of Edinburgh
  • Kathy Willis | University of Oxford
  • Patricia Pinho | University of Såo Paulo
  • Susan Chomba | Program Manager at Regreening Africa, World Agroforestry centre
  • Bruno Locatelli | Cirad, University of Montpellier, and Center for International Forestry Research
  • Chantal van Ham | IUCN Europe/Urban Alliance
  • Julie Greenwalt | Cities Programme Lead, Global Commission for Adaptation
  • Jess Kavonic | ICLEI Cape Town
  • Thomas Elmqvist | Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • Rob Carr | Environment Agency, UK
  • Andres Diaz Silva | Colombian Embassy, London
  • Brendan Guy | International Policy, Natural Resources Defence Council
  • Neil Davies | University of California at Berkley, & Executive Director UC Gump South Pacific Research Station
  • Karen Sudmeier-Rieux | United Nations Environment Programme
  • Shiraz Wajih | Director of Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) in India
  • Veronica Arias | Executive Director of CC35 in Ecuador
  • Claire Johnstone | Catchment Funding Manager at the Environment Agency