Challenges and considerations of applying nature-based solutions in low- and middle-income countries in Southeast and East Asia

Alex Lechner, Rachel L. Gomes, Lucelia Rodrigues, Matthew Ashfold, Sivathass Bannir Selvam, Ee Phin Wong, Christopher M Raymond, Alexandra Zieritz, Kong Wah Sing, Peter Moug, Lawal Billa, Saut Sagala, Ali Cheshmehzangi, Karen Lourdes, Badrul Azhar, Ruzana Sanusi, Christopher D. Ives, Yu-Ting Tang, David Tan, Faith Ka Shun ChanTapan Kumar Nath, Aliya Sabarudin, Sarah Metcalfe, Natalie Gulsrud, Mark Schuerch, Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, Mark Macklin, Christopher N. Gibbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Low- and middle-income countries in Southeast and East Asia face a range of challenges related to the rapid pace of urbanisation in the region, the scale of pollution, climate change, loss of ecosystem services and associated difficulties for ecological restoration. Possible pathways towards a more sustainable future lie in the applications of nature-based solutions (NBS). However, there is relatively little literature on the application of NBS in the region, particularly Southeast Asia. In this paper we address this gap by assessing the socio-ecological challenges to the application of NBS in the region – one of the most globally biodiverse. We first provide an overview and background on NBS and its underpinnings in biodiversity and ecosystem services. We then present a typology describing five unique challenges for the application of NBS in the region: (1) Characteristics of urbanisation; (2) Biophysical environmental and climatic context; (3) Environmental risks and challenges for restoration; (4) Human nature relationships and conflicts; and (5) Policy and governance context. Exploiting the opportunities through South-South and North-South collaboration to address the challenges of NBS in Southeast and East Asia needs to be a priority for government, planners and academics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-351
Number of pages21
JournalBlue-Green Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • blue-green infrastructure
  • ecosystem services
  • nature-based solutions
  • Southeast Asia
  • Sponge cities

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