UGA gathers industry leaders for Summit on Nature-Based Solutions

Large group of people standing togetherATHENS, GA – This week, the University of Georgia’s Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems (IRIS) hosted its first Industry Summit on Nature-based Solutions. The Summit brought together over 100 leaders from across fifty private sector organizations to identify the challenges and opportunities in advancing the development of nature-based solutions to support resilient communities.

Nature-based solutions (NbS), are techniques that use natural processes and ecosystem services in conjunction with traditional infrastructure to meet societal needs. Examples include marshes and dunes, which protect coastal properties from storms and erosion and techniques like levee setbacks, which reconnect river floodplains to reduce flood hazards and promote biodiversity.

While many of these techniques have been used for generations around the world, in recent years they are gaining widespread recognition for their ability to lessen the impacts of extreme weather and climate events, improve water quality, provide recreational space for communities, support biodiverse ecosystems, and provide a host of other benefits.

The Industry Summit on Nature-Based Solutions brings together private-sector leaders committed to advancing these solutions by identifying the challenges, opportunities, collaborations, and actions needed to advance the field of NbS. Industry Summit participants will co-develop a 10-year vision and plan of action for full-scale, national implementation of NbS.

“The private sector will play critical roles in implementing upscaled NbS,” said IRIS Director Brian Bledsoe. “Innovation in science, engineering, policy, workforce development, and business practices will all be needed to advance the development of NbS.”

This event builds on IRIS’s history work with the private sector and its vision of meaningful collaboration across sectors to advance the implementation of Nature-based Solutions across the country and the world.

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jack Hu addressed this need for collaboration and interdisciplinarity during his opening remarks at the Summit.

“Through UGA’s significant public service and outreach capacity as a land grant, sea grant university, IRIS works with its partners to put practical natural infrastructure solutions to work for them. IRIS reflects the fact that solutions to large, complex challenges require expertise from a range of fields and sectors.”

IRIS is uniquely poised to deliver these solutions. With a team of over 100 faculty, staff and graduate students with expertise in over 15 disciplines, IRIS is committed to the power and value of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Todd Bridges, IRIS’s Associate Director of Public-Private Partnerships, spoke to his hope that this event would serve as a crucial step in accelerating the adoption of Nature-based Solutions.

“The Summit was a great gathering! A hundred representatives from fifty private-sector organizations—a broad range of companies and non-profits from across the country—came together to identify ways to accelerate and upscale Nature-based Solutions. We’re looking forward to sharing the creative ideas that emerged over the two days of conversation and collaboration and doing all that we can to promote more partnership for progress.”

To follow up on specific products developed from the Industry Summit for Nature-based Solutions, visit the event page, where they will be posted in the coming weeks.

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