FR EN ES Search
  1. Home
  2. Past Events
  3. Decoding nature-based solutions for water what do they entail?


All the news

Decoding: nature-based solutions for water: what do they entail?

The concept of “nature-based solutions” is fairly recent but already present in international debates on water. The latest world report by the United Nations on harnessing water resources was devoted to these solutions for water management.

The generic definition  is given by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in France (IUCN) which defines them as “actions aimed at protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural and modified ecosystems to directly face the challenges of society efficiently and adaptively, while ensuring human well-being and by producing benefits for biodiversity”.

Working for nature rather than against it


Regarding water, the aim is to work with nature rather than against it, since it plays a unique and essential role in regulating the different elements of the water cycle. Thus, the approach aims at using or reproducing natural processes to favour the availability of the resource (retention of moisture in soils; recharging aquifers, etc.), improving the quality of water and landscapes (natural and artificial wetlands; buffer zones along rivers; conservation agriculture, etc.), and reducing risks linked to floods and climate change (planted catchment areas; restoration flood plains, etc.). It’s another way of responding to the global challenges of water for human consumption, agriculture and industry while simultaneously providing new benefits for human beings and ecosystems.

Implementing them nonetheless remains highly dependent on infrastructures built by humans. The challenge is therefore to find the right balance, both profitable and sustainable, between “grey” and “green” infrastructures in order to develop them on a wider scale.


Paths of action for agriculture

The quest for this balance is particularly decisive for agriculture, which is the largest consumer of water globally, while making it possible to feed a growing world population. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has focused on this subject pragmatically by analysing 21 case studies to show the diversity of Nature-Based Solutions techniques, depending on place, political and environmental context, and the involvement of local communities. This inventory also allows identifying the factors of success and failure with this type of water management.


Levers of actions and barriers

Among the factors of success, mention can be made of understanding how ecosystems function, the participation of stakeholders, political will, a multidisciplinary approach, a realistic evaluation system, a solid financial framework and accepting that carrying out such projects requires plenty of time!

There are many barriers. The first is that many ecosystems are already degraded and exploited beyond their capacity for regeneration. This makes it very difficult to introduce nature-based solutions for water management. Another challenge consists in the capacity of adopting a global approach. Lastly, ecosystemic services should be evaluated, in other words their values of use and non-use should be evaluated in monetary terms in the project phase. Afterwards, the financial and ecological benefits, and the actions implemented must be monitored.

Mettez à jour votre navigateur pour consulter ce site