Towards an operationalisation of nature-based solutions for natural hazards

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Aug 20;731:138855. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138855. Epub 2020 Apr 29.


Nature-based solutions (NBS) are being promoted as adaptive measures against predicted increasing hydrometeorological hazards (HMHs), such as heatwaves and floods which have already caused significant loss of life and economic damage across the globe. However, the underpinning factors such as policy framework, end-users' interests and participation for NBS design and operationalisation are yet to be established. We discuss the operationalisation and implementation processes of NBS by means of a novel concept of Open-Air Laboratories (OAL) for its wider acceptance. The design and implementation of environmentally, economically, technically and socio-culturally sustainable NBS require inter- and transdisciplinary approaches which could be achieved by fostering co-creation processes by engaging stakeholders across various sectors and levels, inspiring more effective use of skills, diverse knowledge, manpower and resources, and connecting and harmonising the adaptation aims. The OAL serves as a benchmark for NBS upscaling, replication and exploitation in policy-making process through monitoring by field measurement, evaluation by key performance indicators and building solid evidence on their short- and long-term multiple benefits in different climatic, environmental and socio-economic conditions, thereby alleviating the challenges of political resistance, financial barriers and lack of knowledge. We conclude that holistic management of HMHs by effective use of NBS can be achieved with standard compliant data for replicating and monitoring NBS in OALs, knowledge about policy silos and interaction between research communities and end-users. Further research is needed for multi-risk analysis of HMHs and inclusion of NBS into policy frameworks, adaptable at local, regional and national scales leading to modification in the prevalent guidelines related to HMHs. The findings of this work can be used for developing synergies between current policy frameworks, scientific research and practical implementation of NBS in Europe and beyond for its wider acceptance.

Keywords: Hydro-meteorological hazards; Indicators; NBS policies; Nature-based solutions; Open-air laboratories (OALs); Risk mitigation and adaptation.

Publication types

  • Review