An impact assessment framework to support the planning and implementation of nature-based solutions projects

Authors and Affiliations: 

Christopher M. Raymond1, Pam Berry2, Margaretha Breil3, Mihai R. Nita4, Nadja Kabisch5, Mark de Bel6, Vera Enzi7, Niki Frantzeskaki8, Davide Geneletti9, Marco Cardinaletti10, Leor Lovinger11, Corina Basnou12, Ana Monteiro13, Holger Robrecht14, Gregorio Sgrigna15, Laura Munari10, Carlo Calfapietra15,16

1 Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden
2 Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
3 Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) and Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC), Italy
4 Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies, University of Bucharest, Romania
5 Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
6 Deltares, The Netherlands
7 European Federation of Green Roof and Wall Associations
8 Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
9 Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, Italy
10 EUROCUBE srl, Italy
11 IFLA Europe – European Region of the International Federation of Landscape Architects
12 CREAF, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain
13 Department of Geography, University of Porto, Portugal
14 ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat
15 Institute of Agro-Environmental & Forest Biology (IBAF), National Research Council (CNR), Italy
16 Global Change Research Institute, Brno, Czech Republic

Corresponding author: 
Christopher M. Raymond

Nature-based solutions (NBS) is a new umbrella term that brings together established ecosystem-based approaches such as ‘ecosystem services’, ‘green-blue infrastructure’, ‘ecological engineering’, ‘ecosystem-based management’ and ‘natural capital’(Nature Editorial, 2017; Nesshöver et al., 2017). NBS have global appeal given their potential to initiate strategies that provide environmental, social and economic benefits, help building climate resilience (European Commission, 2015) and reduce biodiversity loss by supporting existing, modified and new forms of nature in cities (Cohen-Shacham, Walters, Janzen, & Maginnis, 2016). While the strength of the term rests in its potential to integrate knowledge on living solutions and to provide multidisciplinary, evidence-based strategies to address societal challenges(Nature Editorial 2017; Nesshöver et al., 2016), important questions remain about what NBS can deliver within and across different societal challenges.

In response, an EKLIPSE Expert Working Group (EWG) developed an impact evaluation framework (Figure 1) to support the planning, implementation and evaluation of nature-based solutions projects. This presentation will provide an overview of the theoretical framework used for guiding the assessment of NBS impacts within and across 10 climate resilience challenge areas, a description of the quick scoping review procedure used to identify and synthesise key impacts, indicators and methods for each challenge and a synthesis of key findings and future research directions. Over 1,700 publications were considered as part of the review process. It was found that NBS can have environmental, social and economic benefits and/or costs both within and across climate resilience challenge areas. In some instances, benefits in one challenge area can lead to costs or neutral effects in other areas. Previous work found similar trends only with respect to the assessment of ecosystem service values, synergies and trade-offs, or in relation to specific climate change interventions. Future research would benefit from: 1) the systematic consideration of NBS co-benefits and costs within and across challenge areas, and geographic and temporal scales; 2) public participation and governance processes for weaving multiple forms and systems of knowledge into NBS design, delivery and implementation; and 3) further consideration of how existing or new urban planning regimes could interact with the science of NBS assessment.


Cohen-Shacham, E., Walters, G., Janzen, C., & Maginnis, S. (2016). Nature-based Solutions to address global societal challenges. IUCN, Switzerland.

European Commission (2015). Towards an EU research and innovation policy agenda for nature-based solutions & re-naturing cities. Final report of the Horizon 2020 expert group on “Nature-based solutions and re-naturing cities.” Brussels.

Nature Editorial (2017) The latest attempt to brand green practices is better than it sounds. Nature, 541, 133–134.

Nesshöver, C., Assmuth, T., Irvine, K. N., Rusch, G. M., Waylen, K. A., Delbaere, B., … Wittmer, H. (2017). The science, policy and practice of nature-based solutions: An interdisciplinary perspective. Science of The Total Environment.

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