Key to understanding the discussion around Natural Climate Solutions is understanding the terms commonly-used in scientific studies, policy briefs and other literature. This glossary is compiled from a variety of sources, including government agencies and non-profit organizations, to provide plain-English definitions of these terms. Links to the original sources are provided after each definition. In some cases, terms were edited for clarity.

Natural Climate Solutions

Natural Climate Solutions are a subset of nature-based solutions land or water-based climate mitigation strategies. This includes conservation, restoration and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in landscapes and wetlands across the globe, while also addressing other societal and biodiversity challenges. (Global N4C & USN4C)

Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-Based Solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits. They can include climate mitigation strategies, climate adaptation and efforts to restore biodiversity. (Global N4C)

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration is the removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks through geological or biological processes. Carbon sequestration can mitigate global warming by decreasing the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. (Global N4C)

Natural Carbon Sinks

Natural Carbon Sinks are systems that absorb and store more carbon dioxide (CO2) than they release, reducing CO2 concentration in the air. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, trees and other plants and the ocean. As deforestation and global warming degrades natural systems, these sinks may be weakened and reduced. (Global N4C)

Climate Adaptation

Climate Adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment that exploits beneficial opportunities or moderates negative effects. (U.S. Global Change Research Program)

Climate Change Mitigation

Climate Change Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, enhancing natural carbon sequestration, or changing land management practices or consumer behavior. It can be as complex as a plan for a new city, or as simple as improvements to a cook stove design. Climate change mitigation acts to limit global warming and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.  (Global N4C)

Climate Resilience

Climate Resilience is defined as a capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant climate-related threats with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment. (U.S. Global Change Research Program)


Co-Benefits are the added benefits arising from acts to mitigate or adapt to climate change, other than the direct benefits like a stable climate. These benefits can include improved air quality, increased biodiversity, and economic benefits. (Global N4C)


Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms within and between ecosystems, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems. Biodiversity includes diversity within species, between species, and between ecosystems. (Global N4C).

Carbon Offsets or Carbon Credits

Carbon Offsets or Carbon Credits are the act of compensating or canceling out all, or a portion of, the GHG emissions released to the atmosphere through investments in activities that reduce or remove an equivalent amount of GHG emissions and which are located outside the boundaries of the organization or a particular product system. Such investments are often in the form of purchasing a carbon credit. (VCMI)