Nature-based Solutions to Global Challenges Foundation Course

Why nature-based solutions?

Nature-based solutions are emerging as an integrated approach that can help address the causes and consequences of climate change at a relatively low cost, whilst delivering multiple benefits for people and nature.

They have gained much traction in business and policy over the past two years, but there is confusion about what counts as a nature-based solution and how they should be designed, implemented, financed and governed. As for the corporate sector, climate risk is no longer the only environmental risk receiving significant attention: EU financial institutions are increasingly required to report on both biodiversity and climate (e.g. Article 29, France), a clear sign of rapid shifts to come in the corporate regulatory landscape.

To address this, we are offering the Nature-based Solutions to Global Challenges Foundation Course to improve awareness and understanding of the science, policy, practice, financing and governance of nature-based solutions.

Who is this for?

Our course is for current and future public servants and leaders from the private sector and civil society. It will provide participants with knowledge that will enhance future work on nature-based solutions. We offer this as an online course delivered over 8 weeks. The next course runs are in September 2023 and January 2024.

The course is an introduction to NbS for professionals working in a range of sectors. For example, staff at NGOs from the development and environmental sectors wanting to better understand the evidence from research and practice on how NbS can deliver multiple benefits and for whom, to enable them to hold governments to account; business executives wanting to better understand the risks and also the opportunities of investing in NbS; civil servants, regulators, and investors working to develop policies that can enable economic recovery whilst supporting net-zero and biodiversity goals; and philanthropists wanting to support activities that have positive outcomes for both people and nature.


Current course runs

Next course run

September 2023.

Future course runs

Monday 25 September 2023 – Friday 24 November 2023
Reading week (no sessions) – 23 October – 27 October

Monday 15 January 2024 – Friday 15 March 2024
Reading week (no sessions) – 12 February – 27 February

What is involved?

This 8-week online course will take place over 9 weeks to include a mid-course reading week. Each week will cover a critical theme around the science, policy, practice, governing and/or financing of NbS. There will be two sessions a week, each 1.5-2 hours long. The first of the two sessions with involve a presentation on the theory and evidence around a particular theme, followed by Q&A; the second, an interactive workshop (with break out groups) show-casing examples of the practice of NbS from around the world, highlighting good as well as bad practice examples related to the theme of the week. Presentations will be delivered and workshops facilitated by world-leading experts from Oxford University and beyond on the science, policy and practice of nature-based solutions and will draw on examples from a wide range of ecological, socioeconomic and political contexts from across the world. Attendance at all sessions is expected.

Who is involved?

Critical themes will be taught by the following experts:

  • Nathalie at the NbS Conference 2022

    Nathalie Seddon

    Professor of Biodiversity and founding Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, University of Oxford

    Nathalie Seddon is Professor of Biodiversity and Founding Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative in the Department of Biology at the University of Oxford, Director of the Agile Initiative and co-lead of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. She is also a founding non-executive Director of the Oxford University Social Venture, Nature-based Insetting.


    Nathalie trained as an evolutionary ecologist at Cambridge University and has over 25 years of research experience in a range of ecosystems across the globe. As a University Research Fellow of the Royal Society, she developed broad research interests in understanding the origins and maintenance of biodiversity and its relationship with global change. Her work now focuses on determining the ecological and socioeconomic effectiveness of nature-based solutions to societal challenges, and how to increase the influence of robust biodiversity science on the design and implementation of climate and development policy.


    Nathalie advises governments, UN agencies, and businesses on Nature-based Solutions. She was an official “Friend of CoP26” one of around 30 global experts who advised the UK government on its Presidency of the UNFCCC’s climate change conference, CoP26. She is also a member of the Adaptation Committee of the UK Climate Change Committee and is on the Science Advisory Boards of RBG Kew and HRH King Charles’ Circular Bioeconomy Alliance.

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  • Ben Caldecott in black and white

    Ben Caldecott

    Founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group, University of Oxford

    Ben Caldecott is the founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group at the University of Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. At the University of Oxford, he is the inaugural Lombard Odier Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow of Sustainable Finance, the first ever endowed professorship of sustainable finance, and a Supernumerary Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford. Ben is also the founding Director and Principal Investigator of the UK Centre for Greening Finance & Investment (CGFI), established by UK Research and Innovation in 2021 as the national centre to accelerate the adoption and use of climate and environmental data and analytics by financial institutions internationally.

    Ben specialises in environment, energy, and sustainability issues and works at the intersection between finance, public policy, and academe, having held senior roles in each domain. He has authored and edited a substantial number of publications related to sustainability and is an experienced media commentator and public speaker. His expertise and expert evidence have been recognised in high profile legal cases, including in the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of England and Wales. He is a regular peer reviewer and has a number of trustee, board, and advisory panel appointments, including with the UK Climate Change Committee’s Adaptation Committee, UK Export Finance’s Export Guarantees Advisory Council, the Green Alliance, The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability Project, and Climate Impact X’s International Advisory Council.

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  • Nicola in black and white

    Nicola Ranger

    Head of Sustainable Finance Research for Development in the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group and Director, Climate and Environmental Analytics, the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI)

    Nicola Ranger is Head of Sustainable Finance Research for Development in the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group and Director, Climate and Environmental Analytics, the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment (CGFI). The CGFI was established by UK Research and Innovation in 2021 as the national centre to accelerate the adoption and use of climate and environmental data and analytics by financial institutions internationally. Nicola is also a Senior Researcher in the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

    Nicola is passionate about advancing finance for sustainable, resilient and inclusive development. Within the Group, she leads work covering resilience finance, greening finance in emerging and developing economies, climate and environmental stress testing and scenario analysis, as well as thematic activities on climate and environmental risk analytics. Across the wider Smith School, she works on green fiscal policy, fiscal resilience, systemic resilience and climate compatible growth in middle- and low-income countries.

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  • Close up of Cecile

    Cécile Girardin

    Technical Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, and founding Director of Nature-based Insetting, Ltd.

    Cécile combines years of experience in climate change policy analysis with a background in tropical ecology and a thorough understanding of forest ecosystem functioning to provide a unique multidisciplinary approach to her work. She is Director of Nature Based Insetting, Technical Director of Nature-Based Solutions Initiative, Science Lead of the Oxford Biodiversity Network, and Oxford Martin School Fellow.

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  • Black and white shot of Kaya

    Kaya Axelsson

    Net Zero Policy Engagement Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

    Kaya Axelsson is the Net Zero Policy Engagement Fellow at Oxford Net Zero (an interdisciplinary climate change mitigation research programme at the University of Oxford). Kaya has worked for over 10 years in non-profits and political campaigns for social and environmental progress and consults regularly for organizations and initiatives on their sustainability strategies. At Oxford, Kaya earned a distinction for her research on the success of politically unlikely Renewable Energy Coalitions. She currently serves as an advisor to the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign and as a technical author on the International Standard Organization’s new Net Zero Guidelines.

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  • Harriet infront of a hedge

    Harriet Bulkeley

    Professor of Geography, University of Durham

    Harriet Bulkeley FAcSS FBA undertook her PhD at the University of Cambridge and holds joint appointments as Professor in the Department of Geography, Durham University, and at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. Her research focuses on environmental governance and the politics of climate change, energy, nature and sustainable cities. She has published 8 books, several edited collections and over 60 papers, including An Urban Politics of Climate Change (Routledge 2015) and Accomplishing Climate Governance (CUP 2016). She has been included in the Highly Cited Researchers list of the top 1% of researchers internationally four times since 2016.

    From 2016 – 2021, Harriet coordinated the H2020 NATURVATION project examining the role of urban innovation with nature-based solutions for sustainable development and was a co-investigator on the H2020 REINVENT project examining the political and financial challenges of decarbonisation. She has undertaken commissioned research for the UK Government, European Commission, NGOs, UN-Habitat, the OECD and the World Bank. In 2014, Harriet was awarded the King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Professorship in Environmental Science and a Visiting Professorship at Lund University, Sweden and in 2018 was granted the Back Award by the Royal Geographical Society in recognition of the policy impact of her work on climate change. In 2019, she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences and as a Fellow of the British Academy.

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  • Erin close up

    Erin Gray

    Senior Economist, World Resources Institute (WRI) Economics Center

    Erin Gray currently leads the Global Economics Center’s work on valuation of nature-based solutions (NbS) and manages WRI’s Economics Community of Practice. Erin works across WRI’s Programs and Centers to provide research and analysis primarily on the topics of (1) making the economic case for restoring and protecting NbS for water security and climate change adaptation, (2) catalyzing finance to advance NbS solutions and multistakeholder partnerships, and (3) advancing decarbonization solutions. Erin has developed a number of economic and financial cost-benefit studies, tools, and guidance documents to help decision-makers understand the economic, social and environmental trade-offs of policy and infrastructure decisions.

    Before joining WRI, Erin worked as a consultant for ICF International’s Climate Change and Sustainability team, where she supported analysis of global and domestic impacts of Federal energy and land use policies. She also has several years’ experience evaluating impacts and participation eligibility for ecosystem service markets.

    Erin received her Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, concentrating in Environmental Economics and Policy. Erin also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Economics and Environmental Analysis and Policy from Boston University.

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  • Kes in portrait black and white

    Kes McCormick

    Associate Professor at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden

    Kes McCormick is an Associate Professor at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) at Lund University, Sweden. With a background in political science and environmental science, and 20 years of academic and management experience, he engages in a combination of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, education and collaboration activities. He actively works across the fields of sustainability, climate, energy, nature, governance, business, missions, innovation and cities. He is also deeply engaged in online education, capacity building and lifelong learning through Massive Open Online Courses. He coordinates the City Futures Academy – an online learning community on sustainable cities with over 100,000 participants.

    Kes has extensive experience with research, innovation, project and stakeholder management based on diverse leadership roles. He has worked in 30 projects and assignments collaborating with over 200 organisations, including local governments, public agencies, business, NGOs and SMEs. He collaborates continuously with a range of local and international organisations. Kes is also the most downloaded author at Lund University. Since 2004, he has produced over 120 publications (with more than 250,000 downloads and some 6000 citations) in a diversity of formats for a range of target audiences. Finally, Kes is an experienced teacher and course coordinator, and he is also a skilled moderator, engaging presenter and event organiser.

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  • Guy outside

    Gus Fordyce

    Lead Scientist, Nature-based Insetting

    Gus is the lead scientist at Nature-based Insetting working on designing, implementing, and communicating the analytical approaches used to understand how supply chains are impacting biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions. His work links top-down and bottom-up conservation approaches, by aligning the methods used in corporate accounting with field data used to understand how biodiversity responds to human impacts.

    He is trained and previously worked as a marine ecosystem scientist for seven years, across three continents in both the academic and NGO sectors. This involved targeted conservation of charismatic large marine species, analysing the socioecological characteristics of locally managed marine areas, and studying the future of coral reefs exposed to climate extremes.

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  • Chafferty outside

    Caitlin Hafferty

    Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Social Science

    Caitlin is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Environmental Social Science interested in addressing interlinked social, environmental, and economic challenges through interdisciplinary and participatory research. Her research broadly explores the governance and equity dimensions of nature recovery and nature-based solutions. She is particularly interested in effective and meaningful public and stakeholder engagement in environmental decision-making processes.

    She is currently working with the Nature-based Solutions Initiative as part of the Agile Initiative, on a project that explores scaling-up nature-based solutions in the UK. This will lead on to further research exploring the governance and equity of nature restoration efforts in two case study landscapes (Oxfordshire and the central Scottish Highlands) as part of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery.

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  • Rachel against a grey background

    Rachael Garrett

    Moran Professor of Conservation and Development at the University of Cambridge

    Rachael Garrett is the Moran Professor of Conservation and Development at the University of Cambridge. Her research examines the drivers and impacts of land change, primarily in forest landscapes, and the effectiveness and equity of forest conservation policies and practices. Professor Garrett works closely with national agriculture and forestry agencies in the regions where she works, including ongoing partnerships with Embrapa in Brazil. She also works closely with companies to advise them on their supply chain policies.

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Next course run
Starts in September 2023

Future course runs
Monday 25 September 2023 – Friday 24 November 2023
Monday 15 January 2024 – Friday 15 March 2024


£3,200 private sector
£2,500 public sector
(lower rates and scholarships for those based in lower-income nations)

Please read our pricing policy


8 weeks with a mid-course reading week
2 x 2-hour sessions per week on Tuesdays except during reading week


Online in 2023 and 2024


Please apply using our online form. There will be a cap on the numbers admitted onto the course, so do complete the application form as soon as possible.

For further information contact


Please note that this course is delivered in partnership with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

We also provide bespoke versions of this course for organisations. Please contact nathalie.seddon[at]biology.ox.ac.uk if you would like to discuss this opportunity further.


  • 1: Origins, definitions, and policy landscape of nature-based solutions
  • 2: Harnessing nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • 3: Nature-based solutions for urban resilience and sustainable development
  • 4: Economics of nature-based solutions, from local to global
  • 5: Policy analysis for nature-based solutions
  • 6: Governance of nature-based solutions
  • 7: Financing nature-based solutions
  • 8: Business, biodiversity and nature-based solutions