VICKSBURG, Miss. — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature (EWN) leaders contributed to a White House interagency report released Nov. 8 about opportunities for the federal government to accelerate the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS).
“The report provides a roadmap with five strategic recommendations for federal agencies to implement, and it provides an agency resource guide of thirty NBS examples in action,” said Dr. Todd Bridges, national lead of EWN.
Bridges said the resource guide also provides more than 150 federal knowledge resources, tools, guidance and technical assistance.
The USACE EWN initiative leverages natural systems and processes to broaden the services, benefits and value infrastructure projects contribute to the nation and communities.
The report issued yesterday is tied to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14072 issued in April 2022, which seeks to strengthen the nation’s forests, communities and local economies.
Section 4 of the executive order, “Deploying Nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and enhance resilience” highlights the need to utilize NBS to address the climate crisis.
The five strategic areas for action in the report include updating federal policies and guidance to make it easier to adopt NBS and correcting current practices that can undervalue NBS.
Toward that end, the EWN initiative has been collaborating with federal government, private sector, academic, and nonprofit organizations to forge a path forward for quantifying the economic, environmental and social benefits nature-based solutions deliver — an area that has advanced considerably in recent years.
The president and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf, Justin Ehrenwerth, and his organization have contributed significantly to this modernized quantification effort through a study.
“I’m incredibly optimistic that when you bring the expertise that exists across all of these entities — the sum is going to be so much more than the pieces of its parts,” he said.
Deborah Loomis, senior advisor for Climate Change, Secretary of the Navy, addressed the fifth area for action in the report’s roadmap — prioritizing research, innovation, knowledge and adaptive learning. “In an environment where we don’t have a lot of time — these climate impacts are happening now — research is always important,” she said.
Bridges said that the growth and use of NBS is a vital part of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Nation’s resilience.
“Over the last five years, natural hazards — such as floods and storms ― produced more than $10 billion in damages to DOD installations,” Bridges said. “The complex DOD mission necessitates resilient infrastructure systems requiring innovative action. EWN is leading the way to harness the power of nature to support mission resilience.”
“The President’s executive order issued on Earth Day and the ensuing actions like today’s report that stem from it are a generational moment for our country,” Bridges said. “He has brought the entirety of the federal government together focusing nature-based solutions and how they can be delivered and deployed to support our country. We must seize the day, for the benefit of the 21st century.”
To read the White House report factsheet, visit https://tinyurl.com/yd4mzyjk
To learn more about the EWN initiative, visit https://ewn.erdc.dren.mil