Handbook for Implementation of Nature-based Solutions for Water Security – guidelines for designing an implementation and financing arrangement

Apr 21, 2021


We are delighted to publish the Handbook for Implementation of Nature-based Solutions for Water Security.

Climate impacts challenge our status quo. The frequency of extreme events keeps increasing driven by climate change. The World Bank (2016) indicates that the impacts of climate change will be channelled primarily through the water cycle and that water scarcity could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP. Our experience of COVID-19 is a stark reminder that a shift in our economic development paradigm is urgent. As urged by the GCA (2019), we need three revolutions for a better future: a revolution in understanding, in planning and in finance.

In this context, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) emerge as important pillars of new models of economic growth, as they enable a win-win between economy and environment while helping us mitigate water and climate risks. Unfortunately, NbS implementation at scale remains limited. In most cases, NbS are still being implemented as pilot projects of limited size and following parallel processes from mainstream procurement practices. This is what we call in our newly published Handbook the implementation gap. 

With an ambition to close this gap, we have developed a collaborative and inclusive project preparation approach titled Financing Framework for Water Security (FFWS) which aims to set in motion a multisectoral and transdisciplinary process that bridges strategic planning and investment planning phases.

The primary objective is to guide the development of investable NbS projects by developing a fit-for-purpose implementation arrangement, including governance, funding, financing and contracting choices. It offers project preparation guidelines, including hands-on formats that project proponents can use iteratively to develop the full business case of NbS, enabling them to go from the idea stage towards an investment proposal that can be effectively assessed by potential public and/or private sector investors.

The handbook is aimed at NbS project proponents like NGOs, communities and government agencies wanting to learn about the investor’s perspective and vice versa; investors willing to increase their exposure to NbS, ecosystem conservation or restoration projects for water security. This makes the handbook a comprehensive and first-of-a-kind document that customizes the process of developing a business case to the specificities of NbS investments.

Between 2016 and 2020, the FFWS has been continuously developed and successfully implemented in seven countries at different scales. Within the project NAIAD, 23 partners from across Europe worked together in its further development for NbS water security projects. The NAIAD project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

As our aim is to make the handbook a living document, the authors welcome feedback and are willing to host partnered dialogues and training sessions based on the handbook’s methods and approaches. For feedback and additional information please contact Monica A. Altamirano.

The handbook offers:

  • A step by step guide for developing the NbS business case: how to choose a mode of governance for the project, a funding strategy, a financing strategy and a procurement strategy (Chapter 1)
  • A project preparation facility toolbox with a compendium of all the analysis grid, checklist, methods to prepare NbS projects in a collaborative way and design a complete project preparation roadmap (chapters 1 and 3); starting with an intake assessment form (Appendix A) and in some cases requiring the development or further detailing of the NbS strategy through a strategic planning process (chapter 2), and including collaborative modelling protocols to guide the design of stakeholder engagement workshops.
  • An analysis of barriers for public and private investment in NbS, of the specificities of NbS project and the bankability implications of building with nature (Chapter 4).
  • Illustration and inspiration from three demo cases in Europe (Spain, Romania and the Netherlands) and one demo case in Indonesia (Chapter 5), as well from pioneering NbS implementation arrangements worldwide.
  • More generally, it offers a sound basis for capacity building in developing an investment plan.

Reference: Altamirano, M.A., de Rijke, H., Basco Carrera, L., Arellano Jaimerena, B. (2021). Handbook for the Implementation of Nature-based Solutions for Water Security: guidelines for designing an implementation and financing arrangement, DELIVERABLE 7.3: EU Horizon 2020 NAIAD Project, Grant Agreement N°730497 Dissemination.

Download the handbook

The methodology and main findings in the handbook have been presented in the following webinars in the last months:

  • NBS Webinar Series: Implications on design, planning, governance and economics. Organized by Fundacion Torcuato Di Tella, Delta Alliance Argentinean Wing, TUDelft and the International Forum on Urbanism (IFOU). These webinars were simultaneously translated in English, Spanish and Chinese. The Financing Framework for water security was presented during the last webinar on Circular Economy and financing and can be found here. A summary of the whole webinar series in Spanish and recordings can be found here
  • Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, UPenn webinar: The Case for Nature-Based Solutions. The webinar recordings can be found here.