Nature-Based Solutions Guidance

The collection of guidance documents shown below were selected to provide practitioners such as project managers, engineers, scientists, landscape architects, policy makers, and others with resources to inform and guide their Engineering With Nature projects. These guidance documents were authored by experts from the United States and around the world, and provide technical, policy, and economic guidance for Engineering With Nature projects. This list of documents was specifically curated to include publicly available documents accessible via the internet. This list of documents is non-exhaustive. Please contact us if you have a reference you would like considered for inclusion in this repository.

Increasing Infrastructure Resilience with Nature-based Solutions (NbS): A 12-Step Technical Guidance Document for Project Developers is specifically for public and private project developers in Latin American and the Caribbean, but other audiences may also find it useful. This guidance helps developers consider how to incorporate nature-based solutions into their project planning from its earliest stages, also emphasizing opportunities for stakeholder engagement and adaptive planning and management throughout. It addresses not only engineering aspects of nature-based-solutions initiatives (i.e., technical assessments, design, implementation, and operations and maintenance [O&M]) but also steps related to governance, economic assessment, financial structuring, and permitting.

Citation: Inter-American Development Bank. 2020. Increasing Infrastructure Resilience with Nature-based Solutions (NbS): A 12-Step Technical Guidance Document for Project Developer. New York: Inter-American Development Bank. https://publications.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Increasing-Infrastructure-Resilience-with-Nature-Based-Solutions-NbS.pdf.

Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines describes the role of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in implementing living shorelines and the science, tools, and training the agency uses to guide these projects. The conceptual framework included in this guidance aims to help NOAA and its implementation partners determine if a living shoreline is an appropriate solution and plan shoreline stabilization projects. The guidance describes NOAA’s living shorelines guiding principles and “highlights NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to help inform the selection of appropriate techniques. It also discusses the agency’s role in reviewing living shoreline projects” (4) and offers a conceptual framework of 12 questions to help plan a shoreline stabilization effort.

Citation: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2015. Guidance for Considering the use of Living Shorelines. Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. https://www.habitatblueprint.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/NOAA-Guidance-for-Considering-the-Use-of-Living-Shorelines_2015.pdf.

Tools, Strategies and Lessons Learned From EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Projects does not necessarily use the terms engineering with nature or nature-based solutions but addresses these topics as “green infrastructure.” Highlighting approximately 60 EPA-funded technical assistance projects as examples, this document describes green infrastructure as an adaptable approach to addressing both stormwater management and climate resilience challenges. Technical assistance projects are grouped by their focus on conceptual design, guidance development, policy review/recommendations, screening and prioritization, modeling, or economic benefits.

Citation: United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2015. Tools, Strategies and Lessons Learned from EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Projects. EPA 832-R-15-016. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-01/documents/gi_tech_asst_summary_508final010515_3.pdf.

Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions: A Guide for Local Communities recognizes the importance of collaboration in planning and implementing nature-based solutions. This guide helps local communities identify resources (including personnel) that can build resilience using nature-based solutions. The guide is organized into six sections: “What are nature-based solutions?,” “The business case,” “Planning and policy-making phase,” “Implementation phase,” “Federal funding opportunities,” and “Key takeaway and resources.”

Citation: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 2020. Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions: A Guide for Local Communities. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency. https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-08/fema_riskmap_nature-based-solutions-guide_2020.pdf.

Nature-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Management is a booklet to help staff at government agencies and development institutions (including finance institutions) to understand how nature-based solutions can enrich disaster risk management. The document highlights World Bank’s nature-based-solutions program and provides examples of nature-based solutions for coastal flooding and erosion, urban stormwater flooding, and river flooding hazards. It also provides implementation guidance in the context of disaster risk management, including review of emerging policies and financing approaches.

Citation: World Bank Group and World Resources Institute. 2018. Nature-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Management. Washington, DC: World Bank and World Resources Institute. http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/253401551126252092/pdf/134847-NBS-for-DRM-booklet.pdf.

Integrating Green and Gray: Creating Next Generation Infrastructure provides a framework for evaluating green infrastructure from multiple perspectives, including technical, environmental, social, and economic. The report also provides guidance for incentives to mainstream green infrastructure solutions.

Citation: Browder, G. S. Ozment, I. Rehberger Bescos, T. Gartner, and G.-M. Lange. 2019. Integrating Green and Gray: Creating Next Generation Infrastructure. Washington, DC: World Bank and World Resources Institute. https://doi.org/10.46830/wrirpt.18.00028.

Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: Briefing Note Series is, as the name suggests, a series of short documents that each focus on addressing a specific topic related to natural solutions to ecosystem-based adaptation.

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. Making EbA an Effective Part of Balanced Adaptation Strategies: Introducing the UNEP EbA Briefing Notes. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 1. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28174/EBA1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. Navigating the Adaptation Challenge. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 2. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28175/EbA2.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. EbA in Different Ecosystems: Placing Measures in Context. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 3. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28176/Eba3.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. Selecting Complementary Adaptation Measures. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 4. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28177/Eba4.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. Developing the Economic Case for EbA. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 5. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28178/Eba5.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. Integrating EbA into National Planning. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 6. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28179/Eba6.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

United Nations Environment Programme. 2019. UNEP and EbA. Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Briefing Note Series, Note 7. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28180/Eba7.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Design Principles for Ecological Engineering is a research paper that defines ecological engineering and describes a design methodology that is consistent with or based on ecological principles. It presents five ecological engineering design principles, including “(1) design consistent with ecological principles, (2) design for site-specific context, (3) maintain the independence of design functional requirements, (4) design for efficiency in energy and information, and (5) acknowledge the values and purposes that motivate design” (1).

Citation: Bergen, S. D., S. M. Bolton, and J. L. Fridley. 2001. “Design Principles for Ecological Engineering.” Ecological Engineering 18 (2): 201–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0925-8574(01)00078-7.

Implementing Nature-Based Flood Protection: Principles and Implementation Guidance presents key considerations when planning nature-based solutions and provides specific NBS implementation guidance, such as timelines and activities needed for successful project implementation. The document’s intent is to standardize guidelines for all nature-based solutions.

Citation: World Bank. 2017. Implementing Nature-Based Flood Protection: Principles and Implementation Guidance. Washington, DC: World Bank. http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/739421509427698706/pdf/Implementing-nature-based-flood-protection-principles-and-implementation-guidance.pdf.

Natural Flood Management Handbook is a guidance document published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). It describes the different types of flood management measures and the multiple benefits of those measures. It also provides information on assessment tools, the process of implementing projects, project management approaches, funding, monitoring, and case studies of successful natural flood management projects.

Citation: Forbes, H., K. Ball, and F. McLay. 2015. Natural Flood Management Handbook. Stirling, Scotland: Scottish Environment Protection Agency. https://www.sepa.org.uk/media/163560/sepa-natural-flood-management-handbook1.pdf.

Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide provides practical guidance and tools for flood managers to understand the factors related to flood risk and to implement natural and nature-based flood management methods. The guide includes case studies illustrating the many flood-related challenges and issues and how those can be overcome with nature-based solutions.

Citation: World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 2016. Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide. Washington, DC: World Wildlife Fund. https://www.worldwildlife.org/publications/natural-and-nature-based-flood-management-a-green-guide.

Guidance for Using the IUCN Global Standards for Nature-Based Solutions: A User-Friendly Framework for the Verification, Design, and Scaling Up of Nature-Based Solutions intends to help practitioners by standardizing the design and implementation of nature-based solution, establishing a common basis of what is and is not a nature-based solution and supporting nature-based solutions by clarifying and developing related policy. Project managers, landscape planners, development practitioners, finance sector personnel, policy makers, and others use this guide for the design and verification of nature-based solutions to ensure that they meet the requirements of the nature-based standard.

Citation: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 2020. Guidance for Using the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-Based Solutions. A User-Friendly Framework for the Verification, Design and Scaling Up of Nature-Based Solutions. First edition. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature. https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2020-021-En.pdf.

Business Case for Nature-Based Solutions: Landscape Assessment explores what nature-based solutions are (i.e., the concept, definitions, and classifications), identifies opportunities for scaling nature-based solutions and barriers to doing so, and reviews available frameworks for evaluating and measuring demonstrated benefits.

Citation: Shiao, Tien, Cora Kammeyer, Gregg Brill, Laura Feinstein, Michael Matosich, Kari Vigerstol, and Carla Müller-Zantop. 2020. Business Case for Nature-Based Solutions: Landscape Assessment. Oakland, CA: United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and Pacific Institute. www.ceowatermandate.org/nbs/landscape.

Benefit Accounting of Nature-Based Solutions for Watersheds: Guide accompanies Business Case for Nature-Based Solutions: Landscape Assessments and helps companies monitor the impact of their nature-based solutions and build a business case for widespread implementation. The guide details a step-by-steps process for identifying benefits from nature-based solutions from their design stage through implementation.

Citation: Brill, Gregg, Tien Shiao, Cora Kammeyer, Sarah Diringer, Kari Vigerstol, Naabia Ofosu-Amaah, Michael Matosich, Carla Müller-Zantop, Wendy Larson, and Tim Dekker. 2021. Benefit Accounting of Nature-Based Solutions for Watersheds: Guide. Oakland, CA: United Nations CEO Water Mandate and Pacific Institute. www.ceowatermandate.org/nbs/guide.

Community Incentives for Nature-Based Flood Solutions: A Guide for FEMA’s Community Rating System for Conservation Practitioners explains how nature-based solutions are creditable components of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS). The guide provides a brief overview of the CRS and discusses how the conservation community can further nature-based solutions through the CRS. Two case studies illustrate how nature-based solutions can be used to improve a community’s rating class and obtain more discounts on flood insurance costs.

Citation: The Nature Conservancy. nd. Community Incentives for Nature-based Flood Solutions: A Guide to FEMA’s Community Rating System for Conservation Practitioners. Birmingham, AL: The Nature Conservancy. https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/CRS_brochure-FEMA-CommunityRatingSystem.pdf.

Nature-based Solutions for Coastal Hazards is a training course hosted by NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management. Courses consist of two parts: a self-guided online module followed by a live (in person or online) instructor-led session. The goal of this course is for students to learn how to describe green infrastructure practices that reduce hazards and build resilience; overcome challenges associated with implementation; and access experts, peers, and other resources supporting green infrastructure.

Details and Registration: https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/green-virtual.html


Funding and Financing: Options and Considerations for Coastal Resilience Projects provides a quick reference describing various types of funding and financing mechanisms for coastal resilience projects. The six funding and seven financing descriptions also include benefits, considerations, and examples of each.

Citation: Office of Coastal Management. 2021. Funding and Financing: Options and Considerations for Coastal Resilience Projects. Charleston, SC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management. https://coast.noaa.gov/data/digitalcoast/pdf/financing-resilience.pdf.

Nature‐Based Solutions for Coastal Highway Resilience: An Implementation Guide is intended to help transportation practitioners understand how nature-based solutions (NBS) and hybrid green-gray solutions can reduce coastal flooding, wave heights, and erosion and thereby improve the resilience of coastal roads and bridges. The guide provides information on every stage of NBS, from planning to constructing and maintaining NBS practices. The guide also provides information on the cobenefits of NBS.

Citation: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 2019. Nature-Based Solutions for Coastal Highway Resilience: An Implementation Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/sustainability/resilience/ongoing_and_current_research/green_infrastructure/implementation_guide/fhwahep19042.pdf.

Adapting to Climate Change in Coastal Communities of the Atlantic Provinces, Canada: Land Use Planning and Engineering and Natural Approaches, Part 3: Engineering Tools Adaptation Options provides an inventory of engineering tools to manage coastal flooding and erosion. The guide describes regulatory and cost considerations and also explores the variety of tools to available for different coastal conditions and climate change adaptation objectives. This is Part 3 of a larger guidance document. Part 1 provides guidance for selecting adaptation options, and Part 2 provides land-use planning tools adaptation options.

Citation: Leys, V., and D. Bryce. 2016. Adapting to Climate Change in Coastal Communities of the Atlantic Provinces, Canada: Land Use Planning and Engineering and Natural Approaches, Part 3: Engineering Tools Adaptation Options. Halifax, Canada: Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Association. https://research.fit.edu/media/site-specific/researchfitedu/coast-climate-adaptation-library/canada-amp-arctic/canada—atlantic/Leys–Bryce.–2016.–CC-in-Coastal-Communities-of-the-Atlantic-Provinces,-Land-Use,-Engineering-Natural-Approaches.pdf.

Use of Natural and Nature-based Features (NNBF) for Coastal Resilience provides a framework to advance the use of NNBF for coastal systems management. The framework is structured around three main categories of activities needed to advance NNBF, including organizational alignment, evaluation, and implementation. The framework includes seven steps to advance NNBF, including (1) characterizing NNBF, (2) developing vulnerability metrics, (3) developing performance metrics, (4) assessing alternatives, (5) considering sediment as an NNBF resource, (6) monitoring, and (7) considering policy challenges.

Citation: Bridges, Todd, Paul Wagner, Kelly Burks-Copes, Matthew Bates, Zachary Collier, Craig Fischenich, Joe Gailani, Lauren Leuck, Candice Piercy, Julie Rosati, Edmond Russo, Deborah Shafer, Burton Suedel, Emily Vuxton, and Ty Wamsley. 2015. Use of Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) for Coastal Resilience. Vicksburg, MS: U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. http://hdl.handle.net/11681/19336.


Evaluating the Impact of Nature-Based Solutions: A Handbook for Practitioners
, developed by the European Union, provides a comprehensive nature-based-solutions impact assessment framework for decision-makers. It includes indicators developed through the collaboration of 17 EU-funded nature-based-solution projects and institutions to assess the use of nature-based solutions to address 12 key areas, including “climate resilience, water management, natural and climate hazards, green space management, biodiversity, air quality, place regeneration, knowledge and social capacity building for sustainable urban transformation, participatory planning and governance, social justice and social cohesion, health and well-being, and new economic opportunities and green jobs” (48). An Appendix of Methods accompanies the handbook.

Citations: European Commission. 2021. Evaluating the Impact of Nature-Based Solutions: A Handbook for Practitioners. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. https://op.europa.eu/s/pawd.

European Commission. 2021. Evaluating the Impact of Nature-Based Solutions: Appendix of Methods. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. https://op.europa.eu/s/pawf.

Handbook for the Implementation of Nature-based Solutions for Water Security: Guidelines for Designing an Implementation and Financing Arrangement provides operational advice and project preparations guidelines. The handbook is intended to guide the development of nature-based solutions through multiple modes of governance, funding, and implementation arrangements. The methodology proposed is suitable for large-scale nature-based solutions as well as hybrid strategies that include nature-based solutions.

Citation: Altamirano, M. A., H. de Rijke, L. Basco Carrera, and B. Arellano Jaimerena. 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. http://naiad2020.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/D7.3REV.pdf.

The Australian Guide to Nature-based Methods for Reducing Risk from Coastal Hazards provides clear guidance to decision-makers regarding when nature-based solutions are most appropriate (alone or in combination with traditional approaches) and a process for implementing these strategies. Specifically, this document outlines how nature-based solutions work; details ecological and engineering requirements; and provides an implementation framework, a cost-benefit analysis framework, and a policy framework.

Citation: Morris R. L., M. J. Bishop, P. Boon, N. K. Browne, J. T. Carley, B. J. Fest, M. W. Fraser, M. Ghisalberti, G. A. Kendrick, T. M. Konlechner, C. E. Lovelock, R. J. Lowe, A. A. Rogers, V. Simpson, E. M. A. Strain, A. A. Van Rooijen, E. Waters, and S. E. Swearer. 2021. The Australian Guide to Nature-Based Methods for Reducing Risk from Coastal Hazards. Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Report No. 26. Melbourne, Australia: NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub. https://nespclimate.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Nature-Based-Methods_Final_05052021.pdf.

Working With Nature: A Guide to Native Plants for New York’s Great Lakes Shorelines provides information on how to use native plants to reestablish “natural, stable shoreline slopes and transition zones from lake to upland areas” (2) for New York’s Great Lakes shorelines. The guide provides specific information on planting and design considerations for different shoreline projects, such as shoreline terracing, beaches and dunes, bluffs, wetlands, and others.

Citation: Widrig, R. 2021. Working With Nature: A Guide to Native Plants for New York’s Great Lakes Shorelines. Oswego, NY: New York Sea Grant. https://seagrant.sunysb.edu/Images/Uploads/PDFs/GreatLakes-ShorelinePlantsGuide.pdf

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