Challenge 2: Local understanding

Local stakeholder involvement and alignment are more crucial for BwN solutions than for grey solutions, but stakeholders’ expertise and knowledge remain underused. We have managed and investigated this challenge through several methods, which you will read more about here.

Local understanding

The conclusions drawn from the case studies stress how important it is to continuously involve local communities and stakeholders in both the planning and design phase, and the implementation and maintenance phase. As BwN solutions are often larger and involve more disciplines than grey solutions, more stakeholders will typically be involved in all project phases. Because stakeholders may differ in their interests and authority, it can be a challenge to align them all satisfactorily. Local communities and stakeholders provide local knowledge, can be involved in community-based maintenance, and play a vital role in identifying and evaluating multiple functions. Drawing up a relevant cost-benefit analysis (CBA) means involving the different stakeholders in all project phases. This has been proven to be crucial for the success of a BwN solution.

Deeper understanding of the challenge

Nature Based Solutions (NBS) is an emerging concept that covers a range of approaches and technologies that use natural processes to address societal challenges. Nature Based Solutions in Water Management was one of the summer courses IHE Delft organised for junior and mid-career professionals with different academic or professional backgrounds.

Summer course

In the Building with Nature (BwN) project, how to build a communication bridge between experts and learners is a critical issue. Through the Nature based Solutions summer course, this challenge could be practiced and participants' feedback provided valuable input. In addition, feedback from the summer course helped  the Building with Nature project to develop a stronger link between knowledge supply and demand.

In these summer courses, the concept of BwN/Nature Based Solutions with its basic design and operation principles was introduced. The application of these principles was demonstrated for the different fields of water management. Moreover, real-life case studies of Nature Based Solutions were presented during the course. Topics included water diplomacy, leadership, gender and serious gaming.

These summer courses aimed at providing an opportunity for the participants to implement their new knowledge directly by working in teams on a design of an application in a concrete context. In this “learning by design” exercise, the participants were challenged to apply the BwN/NBS principles using a real-life case study from their home country (EU and beyond).

Enthousiasm of the next generation

With this course, a new generation of engineers is educated in the principles of BwN and provided with practical experience, building the capacity of BwN. This will lead to enthusiasm of the next generation in BwN and its principle, making them keen to resolve the struggle of getting the concept applied.