Nature for development

Promoting the value of nature by showcasing nature-based solutions, providing spatial data, and enhancing learning

The answers are in nature

Supporting and advocating for nature-based solutions that accelerate sustainable development

Since 2017, the Nature for Development work has championed pathways that put nature at the heart of development. Specifically, the Nature for Development work has focused on:

  • Showcasing the nature-based solutions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through the Equator Initiative
  • Providing spatial data on the intersection of nature and development to countries to help them embed nature into their development decisions through the UN Biodiversity Lab
  • Providing support to learners around the world through the Learning for Nature website, and raising awareness of the value of nature through the Nature for Life Hub

The Environmental Management and Development Trust (EMADET) created a powerful alternative to deforestation and single use plastics in southwestern Nigeria. EMADET was an Equator Prize winner in 2019. Photo: © Mike Arrison/Equator Initiative

Equator Initiative

About the Equator Initiative: Indigenous Peoples and local communities are at the forefront of identifying solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality, including through innovative and inclusive nature-based solutions. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to position IPLC leadership at the heart of sustainable development. It aims to surface, share, and scale innovative local models that are proven to work. The Equator Initiative creates opportunities and platforms to share knowledge and good practices, develops capacities of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, informs policy through convening multi-stakeholder dialogues, and fosters enabling environments to replicate and scale up community action. The Equator Initiative works in several project areas.

About the Equator Prize: The prestigious Equator Prize is awarded to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. The global celebration is often complemented by similar events at the national level for individual winning organizations. 

Exploring the Equator Prize winners: Since 2002, 12 Equator Prize cycles have honored the work of 265 organizations from over 80 countries. Their nature-based solutions show how the world can live in harmony with nature, and improve food and water security, strengthen disaster prevention, and tackle our climate crisis. You can view the 2022 Equator Prize ceremony here.

Featured Equator Initiative content:

UN Biodiversity Lab and Mapping Hope

About UNBL: UNDP created the UN Biodiversity Lab (UNBL) to provide countries with free data at the intersection of nature, climate and sustainable development. UNBL is a free, open-source platform that represents a leap in technology designed to support a country-first approach to spatial planning. With a new, easy-to-use interface launched in 2021 that responds to the needs of individual countries, UNBL is transforming how governments use spatial data for biodiversity planning and reporting by putting key datasets and the tools to combine and analyze them into the hands of national decision makers. The UNBL mission is three-fold: 1. to democratize access to spatial data and analytic tools as a digital public good; 2. to support decision-makers to leverage spatial data for insight, priority-setting, and implementation at the national level; and 3. to empower stakeholders to use spatial data for nationally led monitoring and reporting. 

Using UNBL to make better decisions: The Nature for Development team worked with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to assess progress on protected areas globally. We developed 200 national protected area ‘dossiers’ that provide each country with an in-depth look at opportunities to improve protected areas while achieving nature-dependent development goals.

Integrating spatial data to create “Maps of Hope”: The Nature for Development team works to support countries to use spatial data for action on the Global Biodiversity Framework, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through its signature platform, the UN Biodiversity Lab (UNBL). Its work to use spatial data to identify ‘Essential Life Support Areas’ – also known as “Maps of Hope,” where nature-based actions can conserve critical biodiversity and provide humans with essential ecosystem services; and a range of other initiatives to support and raise awareness about the power of spatial data for integrated planning, implementation, and monitoring of the pulse of our planet. Learn more from our recent workbook on Integrated Spatial Planning.

Featured UNBL content:

Learning for Nature

About Learning for Nature: Learning for Nature is a premier e-learning program that connects policymakers, change-makers, and on-the-ground subject matter experts to promote biodiversity conservation and facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets of the Kunming- Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Since its launch in October 2018, Learning for Nature has attracted over 82,000 learners from 194 countries, with the majority hailing from the global south. 

Explore: Learning for Nature is a one-stop shop for e-learning on nature-related content, and it offers opportunities to develop capacity and scale up efforts for nature-based sustainable development through Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”), self-paced courses, stand-alone webinars and webinar series, podcasts, Google Earth stories, virtual events, and private trainings. More information about Learning for Nature’s service offerings is available here, and impact stories are available here.

NBSAP Forum: Learning for Nature is also host to the NBSAP Forum, a global partnership aiming to support countries in implementing the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and its strategic plans, including global biodiversity targets. The purpose of the NBSAP Forum is to support countries in finding the information they need to develop and implement effective NBSAPs and prepare national reports. 

Featured Learning for Nature content:

Nature for Life Hub

About the Nature for Life Hub: The Nature for Life Hub is a virtual event and global communications campaign that makes the case for nature to be placed at the heart of sustainable development. The Nature for Life Hub, an all-virtual event, convenes leaders in politics, business, finance, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples, and activism. The event provides space for leaders to make announcements, launch initiatives and showcase success stories that are ready to be replicated and scaled up. The virtual events have curated over 100 hours of content, have been home to historic commitments for nature, have featured more than 75 heads of state, and have reached more than a billion social media impressions.

Visit 2023’s Nature for Life Hub: You can visit the past three years of the Hub, in 2020, 2021 and 2022. You can also visit some of the many partner booths to learn more about what the Nature for Life Hub partners are doing at the intersection of nature, climate and development. 

Featured Nature for Life content: