Assessing nature-based solutions uptake in a Mediterranean climate: Insights from the case-study of Malta

Mario V. Balzan, Davide Geneletti, Miriam Grace, Leticia De Santis, Judita Tomaskinova, Hazel Reddington, Anna Sapundzhieva, Lynn V. Dicks, Marcus Collier

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Nature-based solutions are increasingly promoted in regional and national policies because of their potential to contribute toward multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and promote resilient responses to climate change. However, several barriers continue to limit the effective implementation of NbS at local scales and hinder uptake by practitioners and businesses. This research analyses a database of 96 NbS implemented in Malta and a Mediterranean climate, compares local implementation with regional case-studies from a similar climate and, through interviews with stakeholders from the case-study area of Malta, identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of current NbS implementation and assesses enablers and barriers to NbS uptake. Most NbS case-studies addressed biodiversity loss, climate action, health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and communities. NbS were associated with multiple arising benefits but social and economic benefits, such as green job creation, social cohesion and ownership by communities, were less often identified in the analysed case-studies. Alignment with policies, arising public relations benefits from NbS implementation, the adoption of interdisciplinary approaches involving multiple stakeholders, and the availability of regional guidelines were identified by the interviewees as key enablers supporting local implementation. Multiple institutional, infrastructural and perception barriers continue to limit participation, ownership, integration of NbS in planning and governance, and uptake by businesses. Based on these observations, we identify the need to consider NbS as a means to address societal challenges faced by communities and therefore their involvement, and that of practitioners working across disciplines needs to be established early on in NbS co-design processes. We argue that experimentation is critical to address gaps in knowledge, and develop collaborations that permit the development of context-specific NbS which, in addition to considering the ecological and technological conditions in decisions relating to NbS siting and design, also reflect the perceptions and needs of communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100029
JournalNature-Based Solutions
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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