Reducing the finance gap for nature-based solutions with time contributions

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Nature-based solutions (NBS) to climate change and other environmental challenges face a well-documented shortfall in financing and resource allocation. Economic evaluations of NBS that apply stated preference methods increasingly use time contributions instead of the traditionally used monetary contributions, especially in developing countries. These studies have focused on measuring the benefits of NBS and have not investigated the potential of freely provided community time contributions to reduce the financial needs of NBS. In this paper we investigate this potential through a systematic literature review and an analysis of four datasets from case studies in Ghana and Vietnam that apply similar questionnaires and discrete choice experiments with time contributions. We study a range of (de)motivating factors to contributing time to NBS and provide examples on the extent to which time contributions could reduce financial needs of NBS in developing countries. The results indicate that time contributions from households for the implementation and maintenance of NBS are motivated by social capital and coping appraisal. Time contribution schemes are therefore more likely to succeed in communities where social capital and coping appraisal are high and could be increased or maintained over time through the preservation and fostering of both these factors. The analysis also reveals that implementing time contributions would in general not lead to the exclusion of specific socio-demographic groups in society, such as lower income households. Finally, using two specific projects in Vietnam as examples, we calculate that time contributions can reduce 29% and 44% of the financial needs of NBS by covering the projects’ labour requirements. These results are of high importance to those working on NBS financing, awareness and behavior change campaigns, and practitioners that apply stated preference methods in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101371
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date6 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for funding from the Global Resilience Partnership through the Water Window for the Resilnam projects, funding from IUCN-NL, and funding from NWO-WOTRO through the Urbanizing Deltas of the World programme (project number W07.69.206). We also thank our project partners for the fruitful collaboration and support in the field: Potsdam University (dr. Philip Bubeck and dr. Paul Hudson), Centre for Social Research and Development (My Pham and others), University of Ghana (Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Prof. Barnabas Amisigo and Dr. Edem Mahu), The Development Institute (Ken Kinney, Senyo Adzah and Tracy Commodore) and Researchlime (Barnabas Apom). A special thanks to all the enumerators for the hard work and participation in the data collection activities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • Finance gap
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Stated preferences
  • Systematic literature review
  • Willingness to contribute time


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