When is a nature-based solution not a nature-based solution? As the concept has becoming increasing used by the mainstream media, there have been some accusation of greenwashing. So we ask when exactly is a nature-based solution a nature-based solution? Stuart, Connop, the Technical Lead of the Horizon 2020 Connecting Nature’s project suggests that defining exactly what is a nature-based solution is still an evolving area. This is because there are different definitions around and, under most of these definitions, there is some flexibility for interpretation in terms of where nature-based solutions begin and end. This can create a problem for cities that are already used to communicating about green & blue infrastructure and are trying to introduce nature-based solutions as an emerging concept. In general, his approach is to look at the process involved in developing or changing management of a space and ask whether it follows these 5 simple nature-based solutions principles:
i) Does it use nature/natural processes?
ii) Does it provide/improve social benefits?
iii) Does it provide/improve economic benefits?
iv) Does it provide/improve environmental benefits?
v) Does it have a net-benefit on biodiversity?
Generally, if you can answer yes to all five of these principles, there is a good chance it can be argued as a nature-based solution. This is a somewhat simplified approach, as there should also be consideration of local contextualisation in relation to these principles. However, as a basic introduction to nature-based solutions, these questions represent a relatively accessible entry point. And, once it has been established as a nature-based solution, a simple first step towards evaluating the benefits of the nature-based solution can be taken by adding HOW in front of each of the 5 principles. Do you agree with these 5 principles? Have you applied them in practice? Please share with us your experiences as an urban planner or landscape architect in nature-based design and planning...

Contact person: 
Roisin Byrne