Nature-based Solutions

Partners for Water facilitates and promotes sustainable approaches to solve global water challenges

In the Partners for Water 2022 – 2027 Programme, we concentrate on two themes within the thematic approach: Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and Water-Biodiversity-Food. This page details our NBS approach.

By actively promoting the widespread adoption of NBS, we aim to enhance water security for people, plants and animals worldwide. Discover how to get involved through our tenders, subsidy scheme, the events we organize, and more.

What are NBS?

‘Actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, which address social, economic and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services and resilience and biodiversity benefits.’ – NBS definition officially adopted by the United Nations Environment Assembly, 2022

What we do to scale-up NBS

NBS are globally acknowledged as sustainable solutions for water-related challenges. However, many governments and organisations still use traditional solutions, such as dams and other ‘grey’ infrastructure to protect areas against flooding. For a broader implementation of NBS, efforts to mainstream them are essential. That’s why Partners for Water aims to act as a catalyst for sparking enhanced or novel solutions that adopt NBS and contribute to water security abroad.

We focus on facilitating early-stage projects and providing advisory support for widespread implementation. Our approach emphasizes strong local embedding and aims for future applicability across other regions. Additionally, we are committed to disseminate the insights and lessons learned to expand the international knowledge base and encourage the widespread adoption of NBS.

How we work

Partners for Water prioritises the following initiatives and processes for mainstreaming NBS into projects that enhance water security abroad:

  • Subsidy: We grant subsidies to knowledge institutions, Dutch companies and NGOs for conducting feasibility studies or pilot projects that aim to enhance water security abroad through the use of NBS.
  • 5 steps framework: We prioritise support for NBS projects that incorporate at least one of the first four steps of Ecoshape’s ‘5 Steps to Building with Nature’ framework (see Fig. x)
  • Co-creation: Our commitment to co-creation with local stakeholders and private- or public parties ensures that our NBS initiatives are tailored to match local conditions and needs.
  • Networking: With a comprehensive network spanning the globe, we are dedicated to facilitating knowledge institutions, businesses and NGOs with the right connections to stimulate, establish and expand NBS projects.
  • Knowledge sharing: We monitor and disseminate insights and lessons learned from our NBS initiatives across the PfW community and our international partners and stakeholders.
  • Events: we regularly organise events designed to promote networking and the exchange of knowledge across the global water sector, like the ‘Taking the next step for NBS’ event and the ‘Waterproof 2024’ event.


Five steps for generating BwN Design idea. Source

How you can get involved

Whether you’re currently working with NBS to advance water security abroad, exploring how to do so, or simply curious about participating in the Partners for Water initiatives – here are ways for you to get involved:

  • Apply for our tenders focused on innovative solutions in the delta countries we partner with.
  • Join our events and become an active participant in our event’s workshops and deep dives.
  • Follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on our tenders, activities, events and projects.
  • Discover available resources on NBS on our Knowledge page .
  • Apply for the Partners for Water subsidy. Explore if you are eligible.
  • Get in touch with our Project Advisor for NBS: Matthijs Zijlmans


Get inspired by exploring the various projects and activities below that incorporate NBS and have been initiated or granted funding by Partners for Water during the 2022 – 2027 programme.

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