About Building with Nature

Building with Nature (BwN) is a design philosophy in which natural processes deliver a number of benefits, such as protection against flooding and coastal erosion, and opportunities for nature and recreation. Until now, there was a lack of information on the performance of these projects. BwN solutions were therefore hard to justify alongside or instead of more engineered/hard solutions. This prevented policy makers and practitioners from including them in strategies, models and discussions on jointly funded solutions.

Increased understanding

In the BwN project we learned by doing, with extensive monitoring and evaluation along several coastal and catchment living laboratories amongst the North Sea Region. This has increased our understanding of the functioning of BwN solutions under different environmental and socio-economic conditions. You can read all about this under the case studies or you can view the interactive project map.

Project partners

In the Building with Nature project, partners from different countries work together.

Although this project hence helped to increase the BwN evidence base, the uptake and mainstreaming in Europe remains relatively slow. Although the challenges for mainstreaming BwN solutions are different in every country, four overarching challenges that hamper mainstreaming of BwN  solutions have been identified:

  • scientific evidence
  • local understanding
  • governance and institutional gap
  • bankable business case

You can read more about these challenges in our section challenges.

Aim of the project

The overall aim of the project is to make coasts, estuaries and catchments of the North Sea Region (NSR) more resilient to climate change by both applying and learning from the implementation of BwN measures.

This movie shows the background of Building with Nature and its importance.

The project approach

BwN-based solutions will be demonstrated at twelve coastal target sites in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden and at seven catchment scale sites in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Scotland. The BwN project uses these so called living laboratories as examples for creating an evidence base for selecting sites, designing measures and calculating the costs, benefits and effectiveness of measures with the objective to ultimately generating business cases.

Project results

The project creates joint transnational monitoring programmes, uses state-of-the-art analysis methods and develops improved designs and business cases. The laboratories generate the evidence base which will enable BwN solutions to be incorporated into national policy and investment programmes of each of the NSR countries.


The project started per November 11th 2015 and will last until June 2021. The main question being: How can we use the processes and forces of nature to build our flood safety?

Project manager Egon Baldal shows the next step in Building with Nature.

More information on acknowledgements

Facts & figures