Demand for nature-based solutions has increased exponentially in recent years as the concept has become widely accepted and encouraged by organisations from the EC to the UN. Nature-based solutions are complex however, and most organisations do not have the capabilities in-house to design, deliver and manage them. Recent reports(UnaLab, 2020) have shown that finding skilled and experienced suppliers is a major roadblock in the wider uptake of nature-based solutions.

Nature-based enterprises can help to meet this challenge. They support cities, private sector and third sector organisations in the planning, delivery and management or stewardship of nature-based solutions in urban, peri-urban and rural contexts.

What is a nature-based enterprise?

Nature-base enterprises (NBEs) use nature as a core element of their product/service offering.
Nature may be used directly by growing, harnessing, harvesting or restoring natural resources in a sustainable way and/or indirectly by contributing to the planning, delivery or stewardship of sustainable nature-based solutions.

Drawing from the EC definition of a small or medium-sized enterprise1, nature-based enterprises are independent entities which are engaged in an economic activity i.e. ‘the sale of products or services at a given price, on a given/direct market’.

Nature-based organisations are similar to nature-based enterprises in that they use nature directly or indirectly as a core element of their product service offering. They differ from nature-based enterprises in that they may not operate independently or have a trading income as is the case with nationally owned and operated parks or nature reserves for example



Mini GuideboobThis guidebook helps to clarify what is a nature-based enterprise, how to find skilled and experienced nature-based enterprises and how to stimulate and support the start-up, financing and growth of nature-based enterprises.

Download the nature based enterprises guidebook 

Other Resources

Nature-based enterprises is a new area of research and practice and consequently, there is little in the way of resources. Some useful starting pointss are listed here:

Introductory webinars:

UrbanByNature webinar on nature-based entrepreneurship

Nature-based Enterprise Platform and other resources:

The Connecting Nature Enterprise platform is available (from October 2020) on

Other useful documentation:

Burch, S, Andrachuk, M, Carey, D, Frantzeskaki, N, Schroeder, H, Mischkowski, N, & Loorbach, D (2016). Governing and accelerating transformative entrepreneurship: exploring the potential for small business innovation on urban sustainability transitionsCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability22, 26–32.

Eggermont, H, Balian, E, Azevedo, JMN, Beumer, V, Brodin, T, Claudet, J, … Le Roux, X (2015). Nature-based solutions: New influence for environmental management and research in EuropeGAIA, Vol. 24, pp. 243–248.

Frantzeskaki, N, McPhearson, T, Collier, MJ, Kendal, D, Bulkeley, H, Dumitru, A, … Pintér, L (2019). Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Climate Change Adaptation: Linking Science, Policy, and Practice Communities for Evidence-Based Decision-MakingBioScience69(6), 455–466.

Kooijman, McQuaid et al (2021) “Nature-based Enterprises: a new typology”. Forthcoming.

McQuaid & Fletcher (2020) NBE platform infographic

McQuaid & Kooijman (2020) NBE survey results infographic

McQuaid, Kooijman et al (2021) “Nature-based Enterprises: barriers and enablers to growth”. Forthcoming.

Sarabi, Han, Romme, Vries, & Wendling (2019). Key Enablers of and Barriers to the Uptake and Implementation of Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Settings: A ReviewResources8(3), 121.