For many, nature-based solutions and climate-resilient development present a “triple win” for sustainable development, climate mitigation and climate adaptation. But while planting a mangrove forest to stabilize eroding shorelines can provide a nursery habitat for commercial fisheries and absorb energy from storm surges, it’s not always a win-win-win scenario, a Northeastern professor says.
“Yes, there’s that potential, but there’s not that guarantee,” says Laura Kuhl, an assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs. “There’s also potential that these projects can be implemented in ways that can cause harm and be unjust.” So Kuhl and graduate students Alaina Kinol and Johan Arango-Quiroga are proposing a new approach to planting mangroves and building flood-resistant homes in coastal areas—examining such projects through a climate-justice lens.
“Nature-based solutions promised this triple win of sustainable development, mitigation and adaptation, and climate-resilient development is all about the triple win, as well,” Kuhl says. “But for every single policy, investment and project, we have to ask if it is being framed with the questions in mind of how do we contribute to sustainable development and address climate change at the same time. We have to be thinking about the justice implications in order to achieve these triple wins.”