Nature-Based Solutions as Building Blocks for the Transition towards Sustainable Climate-Resilient Food Systems

S.D. Keesstra*, J.A. Veraart, A. Verhagen, S.M. Visser, M. Kragt, Vincent Linderhof, W.A.J. Appelman, J. van den Berg, A.O. Deolu-Ajayi, A.M.E. Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Food systems—encompassing food production, transportation, processing and consumption, including food losses and waste—are currently not delivering what is expected or needed to ensure their full contribution to societal well-being and ecological sustainability. In this paper, we hypothesize that nature-based solutions (NBS; solutions that are inspired by, supported by, or copied from nature) can overcome system challenges related to the functioning of the biosphere, society, or economy (including governance arrangements), and support a transition to sustainable climate-resilient food systems. We develop a conceptual framework to assess NBS contributions to such transitions. Three types of NBS are evaluated: intrinsic NBS which make use of existing ecosystems; hybrid NBS which manage and adapt ecosystems; and inspired NBS which consist of newly constructed ecosystems. We show that inspired NBS in particular will increase opportunities to achieve sustainable development in food systems. NBS can facilitate the much-needed transition to a different way of using our natural resources to reach the SDGs by 2030. We identify the knowledge gaps that impede the development of NBS to support a transition towards sustainable, climate-resilient food systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4475
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2023


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