A United Focus
For more than a decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its Engineering With Nature® initiative has been part of a worldwide community of organizations that have dramatically advanced the use of nature-based solutions to infrastructure challenges. In April 2022, President Joe Biden focused considerable attention and federal effort on nature-based solutions when he issued an executive order focused on strengthening the nation’s forests, communities, and local economies. EWN leaders have provided input on key byproducts from the order.
There are three major components to this portion of the executive order, Enlisting Nature in the Fight Against Climate Change. First, a commitment of the federal government to develop an inter-agency report on ways in which we can accelerate the delivery of nature-based solutions for the benefit of our country and our communities. The second, a commitment to be led by the Office of Management and Budget to develop guidance on valuing nature as a part of our decision-making processes. And the third is to commit the federal government to perform the first ever national nature assessment to understand fundamentally the status of nature, the value and the benefits that it provides to our country and our communities, and how we can sustain and even grow that value to a more resilient future.
White House Report on Nature-Based Solutions
The White House Council on Environmental Quality, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy worked across agencies in the Federal government, including the USACE and its Engineering With Nature Program, to develop and publish a report that identifies opportunities to accelerate the implementation of nature-based solutions.
The report describes opportunities to increase workforce capacity for designing and building nature-based solutions. It recommends means for increasing support to communities and the use of nature-based solutions to build equitable and sustainable futures for places and people. It highlights avenues to simplify community access to relevant federal funds. The purpose of the report is to advance the use of nature-based solutions, in combination with other solutions, to support communities, meet their needs, and build a prosperous future.
A roadmap with five strategic recommendations for federal agencies to unlock the potential of nature-based solutions.
Thirty examples from federal agencies using nature-based solutions to achieve their goals along with 177 federal knowledge resources, tools, guidance, and technical assistance.
- NBS Fact Sheet from The White House Briefing Room
- US Center Opening Event Video Stream live at COP27
- Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog, The Power of Nature at COP27
The National Nature Assessment
This periodic assessment will build on the wealth of existing data, scientific evidence, and Indigenous Knowledge to create a holistic picture of America’s lands, waters, wildlife, ecosystems and the benefits they provide to our economy, health, the climate, environmental justice, and even our national security. The assessment will allow us to take stock of what we have now, as well as look ahead to anticipate how nature and its benefits might change in the future. Dr. Todd Bridges and Dr. Kyle McKay serve on the Federal Steering Committee of the NNA for the Department of Defense. Learn more about the Natural Nature Assessment.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), on behalf of the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), requests input from the public to help inform the framing, development, and eventual use of the first National Nature Assessment (NNA). Comments due by 31 March 2022.
Natural Capital Account
The Office of Management and Budget will issue valuation guidance to help agencies better account for services provided by ecosystems and the environment (such as pollinators supporting our crops, or forests cleaning our air and water). In support, OSTP and the Department of Commerce will continue leading an interagency initiative to improve and update baseline information on the economic value of our existing natural assets and new nature-based solutions.
This initiative will connect changes in nature with changes in economic performance and thus fill in important economic gaps and will help improve federal regulations and private business decisions.
A Generational Moment
USACE will play a central role in these efforts, along with collaborators from the federal government, academia, industry and the non-profit sector, as well as international partners – building on the collective spirt that is central to EWN’s mission.
The president’s executive order issued on Earth Day is a generational moment for our country. He has brought the entirety of the federal government together to focus on nature and nature-based solutions to support our country.
Read more about this work from The White House.