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Investing in Nature for European Water Security

Investing in Nature for European Water Security

Water security is at the heart of healthy and prosperous societies. European countries' prosperity depends on their ability to maintain the gains they have achieved in water security and address new and rising challenges.

Nature Based Solutions can be deployed to address water challenges related to surface water quality, groundwater quality, floods and water scarcity. This report outlines a strategic vision to mobilise greater investments in nature to address Europe’s outstanding water security challenges.
The report’s main objectives are:

  • To identify the roles that nature-based solutions can play to tackle Europe's water security challenges, as part of hybrid (green-grey) water investment strategies;
  • To extract learning from on-the-ground experiences with investments in nature for water security in Europe and identify enabling conditions and barriers to scale;
  • To formulate recommendations on what needs to be done differently to achieve scale and contribute to boost water security and resilience in the European Union.

Ecologic Institute and its partner EMVIS Consultant Engineers have supported The Nature conservancy (TNC) in the preparation of this report, by outlining the key water challenges in Europe and the types of Nature Based Solutions that are applicable for addressing these challenges in Europe.


Trémolet S. et al. (2019). Investing in Nature for Europe Water Security. The Nature Conservancy, Ecologic Institute and ICLEI. London, United Kingdom.

Sophie Trémolet (TNC)
Anna Favero (TNC)
Nathan Karres (TNC)
Marcia Toledo (TNC)
Christos Makropoulos (EMVIS)
Archontia Lykou (EMVIS)
Serene Hanania (ICLEI)
Veronica Rebollo (ICLEI)
Barbara Anton (ICLEI)
184 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Report objectives
1.2 Report structure
2 European water security: how investing in nature can help?
2.1 Why is it important to invest in nature for water security?
2.2 What are nature-based solutions for water security?
2.3 European policy context: mostly conducive, although issues remain
2.4 Why a step change in the pace of investments in NbS-WS is needed now
3 Improving surface water quality
3.1 What are key challenges in Europe?
3.2 What role can NbS play to alleviate surface water quality challenges?
4 Improving groundwater quality
4.1 What are key challenges in Europe?
4.2 What role can NbS play to alleviate groundwater quality challenges?
5 Dealing with floods
5.1 What are key challenges in Europe?
5.2 What role can NbS play to alleviate flooding challenges?
6 Dealing with water scarcity
6.1 What are key challenges in Europe?
6.2 What role can NbS play to alleviate drought and scarcity?
7 NbS-WS in Europe: enabling factors and barriers to scale
7.1 Pioneering experiences with NbS-WS exist in Europe but scale is limited
7.2 Acquired behaviours often are the strongest barrier to scale
7.3 Policy and regulation need to be sharpened to foster adoption
7.4 Governance: lack of coordination and of a clear voice for nature
7.5 Technical barriers can limit the scale-up potential of NbS-WS
7.6 Financing: too little, too fragmented, not sufficiently outcome-based
8 Transformative ways to scale
8.1 VALUE: give natural capital the place it truly deserves in resource allocation
8.2 WORK TOGETHER: harness the power of collective action
8.3 MOBILISE investments through blended finance packages
8.4 PRIORITISE: Identify where greatest results can be achieved
8.5 KNOW YOUR ROLE: different groups have a specific role to play

surface water quality, groundwater quality, floods, water scarcity, nature based solutions, agricultural practices, Europe