The institutionalization of nature-based solutions-a discourse analysis of emergent literature

Rúben Mendes*, Teresa Fidélis, Peter Roebeling, Filipe Teles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The European Union quickly incorporated the concept of nature based-solutions (NBS), becoming a key promotor. This was achieved through financial support for both academic research and city implementations. Still, the processes of institutionalization are yet to be fully explored. This study aims at assessing how the scientific literature regarding NBS is addressing institutional aspects and how it is constructing the NBS narrative. This research is divided into two stages. First, it undertakes a quantitative analysis of the discourse, considering a set of preselected search terms organized into five categories: Actor, institutional, planning, policy, and regulation. Second, it adopts a qualitative analysis considering both a group of the most cited articles and of articles highlighted in the previous stage. The results indicate that the NBS concept is still shadowed by other environmental concepts such as ecosystem services. Despite being an issue promoted at the European level, the results of this exercise express the lack of concrete planning and policy recommendations, reflected by the absence of terms such as "planning objectives". This pattern occurs in all other major categories, being the institutional category the least mentioned of all five categories. The results highlight the need to address both policies and planning recommendations more concretely, studying the institutional arrangements able to promote NBS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Discourse
  • Global change
  • Institutional setting
  • Institutionalization
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Public policies
  • Spatial planning


Dive into the research topics of 'The institutionalization of nature-based solutions-a discourse analysis of emergent literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this