Working with nature-based solutions brings me hope. Every day I see smart people and big organisations being positive and driven in their climate action. As someone who has always been surrounded by nature, its protection of utmost importance to me.
I think my love for nature probably stems from my childhood. My uncles were farmers, so we regularly went to their farms in Zimbabwe. At home, my parents were both keen gardeners meaning that there were always plants living both inside and outside the house! Given these early experiences, I really believe that the best way to feel good is to have nature close by. Therefore, it really upsets me when I see it destroyed, unappreciated, or simply not valued.
At the same time, growing up in Sub-Saharan Africa did give me an alternative perspective: you can get a lot from nature. Wood is essential for fires, cooking and keeping warm. Clearing forests and wetlands creates space for growing crops. In our modern world, I do understand the pressures placed on smaller, more marginalised communities. Why would you conserve a tree that, on the face of it, provides nothing but shade?
When I discovered nature-based solutions and the voluntary carbon market, I was delighted. Here was a way in which we could work with nature to tackle the climate crisis. Projects such as the conservation of tropical forests or the restoration of coastal mangroves all reduce the amount of carbon entering the environment. Simultaneously, they offer immediate benefits to people and biodiversity.
The voluntary carbon market is exciting opportunity for channelling private capital to where it is most needed, specifically parts of Africa, Asia and South America. When you value carbon in this way, you start to provide an economic incentive for keeping ecosystems alive. As such, these solutions can really help those local people who are struggling between conserving a tree for its inherent long-term benefits or cutting it down to meet their immediate needs.
Solutions for hope
Before I discovered nature-based solutions, I often switched off from the climate challenge. When you are just one person, it can feel overwhelming to engage with these issues. However, this all changed when I saw a solution.
The more I learned about carbon markets and how carbon finance can make a huge difference to those projects and communities on the ground actually providing practical mitigation to climate change and nature loss, the more convinced I became this was a great solution to the climate crisis and an effective way to make a difference on a bigger scale.
Now through my extensive experience in the sector, I see that there are a lot of people who are trying to do their best. First, there are the campaigning organisations holding stakeholders to account. Then there are the corporates who, even though they are frequently criticised, are making positive steps. It certainly gives me hope to witness all this activity.
In the future, I would like to see nature-based solutions become more streamlined. With greater consistency of targets and approaches, these solutions could become even more effective. Amid all these positive steps, I will continue to help clients communicate the challenges and the successes. It is immensely satisfying work.