A conceptual framework to help choose appropriate blue nature-based solutions

Géraldine Pérez, Bethan C. O'Leary, Elena Allegri, Gema Casal, Cindy C. Cornet, Silvia de Juan, Pierre Failler, Stein Fredriksen, Catarina Fonseca, Elisa Furlan, Artur Gil, Julie P. Hawkins, Jean Philippe Maréchal, Tim McCarthy, Callum M. Roberts, Ewan Trégarot, Matthijs van der Geest, Rémy Simide*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Biodiversity loss and climate change have severely impacted ecosystems and livelihoods worldwide, compromising access to food and water, increasing disaster risk, and affecting human health globally. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) have gained interest in addressing these global societal challenges. Although much effort has been directed to NbS in urban and terrestrial environments, the implementation of NbS in marine and coastal environments (blue NbS) lags. The lack of a framework to guide decision-makers and practitioners through the initial planning stages appears to be one of the main obstacles to the slow implementation of blue NbS. To address this, we propose an integrated conceptual framework, built from expert knowledge, to inform the selection of the most appropriate blue NbS based on desired intervention objectives and social-ecological context. Our conceptual framework follows a four incremental steps structure: Step 1 aims to identify the societal challenge(s) to address; Step 2 highlights ecosystem services and the underlying biodiversity and ecological functions that could contribute to confronting the societal challenge(s); Step 3 identify the specific environmental context the intervention needs to be set within (e.g. the spatial scale the intervention will operate within, the ecosystem's vulnerability to stressors, and its ecological condition); and Step 4 provides a selection of potential blue NbS interventions that would help address the targeted societal challenge(s) considering the context defined through Step 3. Designed to maintain, enhance, recover, rehabilitate, or create ecosystem services by supporting biodiversity, the blue NbS intervention portfolio includes marine protection (i.e., fully, highly, lightly, and minimally protected areas), restorative activities (i.e., active, passive, and partial restoration; rehabilitation of ecological function and ecosystem creation), and other management measures (i.e., implementation and enforcement of regulation). Ultimately, our conceptual framework guides decision-makers toward a versatile portfolio of interventions that cater to the specific needs of each ecosystem rather than imposing a rigid, one-size-fits-all model. In the future, this framework needs to integrate socio-economic considerations more comprehensively and be kept up-to-date by including the latest scientific information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119936
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Coastal
  • Management
  • Marine
  • NbS
  • Protection
  • Restoration


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