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Transitional path to the adoption of nature-based solutions

Davies, Clive, Lafortezza, Raffaele
Land use policy 2019 v.80 pp. 406-409
United Nations, decision making, green infrastructure, habitats, issues and policy, memory, planning
Spatial planning of green infrastructure has become well established since the turn of the millennium. However, as a planning and policy concept alone it lacks the focus and immediacy that decision makers may be looking for to solve current problems associated with urban and extra-urban sustainability and resilience. In nature-based solutions decision makers can find the focus and immediacy they are seeking. We posit that these nature-based solutions used in combination with spatial green infrastructure planning have the capacity to rival, replace or combine with existing grey infrastructure approaches. Nevertheless, there is a major inhibitor of change to be overcome. This is ‘path dependence’, a concept where active memory conditioned by past decisions has a controlling influence on decision making. This concept leads to self-reinforcement that is detrimental to the creation of climate-sensitive infrastructure. Unless path dependence is broken through a combination of reforms, the shift towards the full adoption of nature-based solutions will not occur. A transition path covering four areas is proposed, which will help to overcome path dependence and lead to a greater use of nature-based solutions. We argue that the forum to debate these proposals is within the framework of UN Habitat. The Urban Thinkers Campus and World Urban Forum could be the fora for this exchange.