Natural Assurance Scheme: A level playing field framework for Green-Grey infrastructure development

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Abstract

This paper proposes a conceptual framework to systematize the use of Nature-based solutions (NBS) by integrating their resilience potential into Natural Assurance Scheme (NAS), focusing on insurance value as corner stone for both awareness-raising and valuation. As such one of its core goal is to align research and pilot projects with infrastructure development constraints and priorities. Under NAS, the integrated contribution of natural infrastructure to Disaster Risk Reduction is valued in the context of an identified growing need for climate robust infrastructure. The potential of NAS benefits and trade-off are explored by through the alternative lens of Disaster Resilience Enhancement (DRE). Such a system requires a joint effort of specific knowledge transfer from research groups and stakeholders to potential future NAS developers and investors. We therefore match the knowledge gaps with operational stages of the development of NAS from a project designer perspective. We start by highlighting the key role of the insurance industry in incentivizing and assessing disaster and slow onset resilience enhancement strategies. In parallel we place the public sector as potential kick-starters in DRE initiatives through the existing initiatives and constraints of infrastructure procurement. Under this perspective the paper explores the required alignment of Integrated Water resources planning and Public investment systems. Ultimately this will provide the possibility for both planners and investors to design no regret NBS and mixed Grey-Green infrastructures systems. As resources and constraints are widely different between infrastructure development contexts, the framework does not provide explicit methodological choices but presents current limits of knowledge and know-how. In conclusion the paper underlines the potential of NAS to ease the infrastructure gap in water globally by stressing the advantages of investment in the protection, enhancement and restoration of natural capital as an effective climate change adaptation investment.

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