Exploring the contribution of nature-based solutions for environmental challenges in the Netherlands

B. de Knegt*, B.C. Breman, Solen Le Clec'h, Arjen van Hinsberg, M.E. Lof, R. Pouwels, H.D. Roelofsen, J.R.M. Alkemade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Nature-based solutions (NbS) offer a promising and sustainable approach to addressing multiple environmental challenges, including climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Despite the potential of NbS, their actual effectiveness in solving these challenges remains uncertain. Therefore, this study evaluates the contribution of NbS implemented in a nature-inclusive scenario for six environmental challenges and associated policy targets in the Netherlands. Fifteen different NbS were applied in the scenario in urban, agricultural, aquatic, and protected nature areas, with measures like flower field margins, green roofs, groundwater level management, and river restoration. The spatially-explicit Natural Capital Model was used to quantify the effectiveness of all applied NbS at a national-scale. Results show NbS significantly contribute to simultaneously solving all six assessed environmental challenges. The most significant impact was seen in improving the quality of water bodies (+34 %), making agriculture more sustainable (+24 %), and protecting and restoring biodiversity (+22 %). The contribution of NbS to address the quality of the living environment (+13 %), climate change (+10 %), and the energy transition was less effective (+2 %). Furthermore, NbS can help to achieve sectoral policy targets at the global, EU, and national levels, including those related to the Birds Habitats Directives, carbon emission, and pesticide reduction targets. This study highlights the potential of NbS to effectively address multiple environmental challenges, although they do not provide a complete solution, and suggests that future research could focus on identifying even more effective ways to implement NbS, and to mainstream their use in policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number172186
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2024


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