Working Group on Nature Based Solutions


Nature Based Solutions (NBS) are often proposed as being adaptive, flexible and reversible solutions for integrated water management challenges and are defined as actively using natural processes to solve these challenges. In some cases, they are combined with more traditional grey solutions into hybrid solutions in areas where e.g., space is limited, such as urban areas. NBS can be applied in all types of water systems, ranging from coasts, estuaries, rivers and upstream catchments to urban environments and should always be judged within the full ecosystem functioning.

There are still many challenges in implementing NBS within a larger framework, ranging from technical aspects (e.g., do they work under extreme events, how do they perform throughout their life cycle, how should they be implemented and maintained on a daily basis) and governance aspects (e.g., how are they financed, accepted, valued by stakeholders). 

One way of overcoming potential hurdles and perceived knowledge gaps is by sharing experience between professionals. Pilot studies help implementation on full scale and examples from elsewhere inspire people to think beyond the ‘standard’ set of measures.

IAHR can play a key role in knowledge transfer of NBS to a wider community of professionals in many different ways. By linking academic researchers to applied practitioners through workshops and special sessions such as held during the IARH World Congress in Panama and by actively stimulating exchange of knowledge through dedicated publications, such as very recently the themed issue of hydrolink and special issues of magazines such as the upcoming Ambio-issue.


We propose to create a community of IAHR members interested in NBS in order to share experiences and to put NBS as a more visible topic on the table. Members are stimulated to organize meetings and special sessions at the IAHR conferences and we aim to create a platform of connections between members, e.g., to dedicatedly meet during a workshop-setting at the world conferences/organize special sessions on the topic etc.

The IAHR World Congress in Granada could be an excellent first moment to announce such a new working group and let members show their interest linked to the above mentioned session.

Key topics

  • Technical assessment and evaluations of NBS in different socio-ecological contexts (catchments, rivers, deltas, urbanized areas, coasts)

  • Implementation process of NBS

  • Role of NBS in larger scale climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies (incl. green/grey combinations of solutions)

  • Climate robust catchment management

Proposed future activities

  • High-Level Panel "Natural Based Solutions and Ecohydraulics"+ workshop on NBS @Granada (NBS implementation and functioning) and @Athens (NBS drought)

  • Short paper for hydrolink on NBS relevance for IAHR members

Leadership Team
Ellis Penning



Jochen Hack

Leibniz University Hannover - Institute of Environmental Planning


Leon Kapetas

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

William Nardin

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

United States of America

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