How can we address global water challenges with solutions that not only improve water security but also enhance ecosystem health and support biodiversity?

Nature-based Solutions (NBS) can help achieve all the above. Learn more about how to utilise nature to address water issues through the NBS lectures taking place from April until June, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Partners for Water X Asian Development Bank

By collaborating with nature, we can support biodiversity and ecosystems and foster resilient approaches to water and climate-related challenges. Since June 2023, Partners for Water and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have partnered to promote this approach. This collaboration enables Partners for Water to provide technical support and expert guidance regarding NBS to ADB’s member countries, facilitating the adoption and scaling up of NBS to improve global water security.

NBS Lectures

From April until June, we are offering a range of lectures where you can discover more about utalising NBS to address water challenges and enhance water security. These lectures will cover topics such as urban NBS (wetlands, sponge city, wadi 2.0, tidal parks), mangrove restoration, reuse of local materials in NBS (sediment, (rain) water, etc.) and cultural impact of NBS. You will learn from global experts and international case studies and explore innovative methods, valuable lessons learned and succesfull approaches.

Upcoming lectures

The next lectures will be held on the 15th of May and the 5th of June.

Lecture 15 May

The online NBS lecture of 15 May will focus on (re)use of local materials in NBS, which contributes to minimisation of waste and emissions by slowing and preferably closing material, water, waste and energy loops. NBS that follow the circularity concept can be seen as enablers for the transition towards a circular society, as they bring new approaches and directly connect to biodiversity and ecosystem services that further support the goals of innovation and sustainable approaches.

The examples demonstrated in this episode will focus on reuse of sediment in different forms and reuse of urban rainwater with contributions by:

  • Johan Verlinde (Municipality of Rotterdam), talking about reusing rainwater in the city of Rotterdam
  • Kees Sloff (Deltares), talking about the mini sand motors that tackle erosion pits in the Old Meuse river
  • Marcel van den Heuvel (Van Oord) talking about the clay ripening project in Groningen and its reuse for dike strengthening
  • Rasesh Pokharel (University of Utrecht), talking about transforming port sediment from the port of Rotterdam into a building material with neutral or negative CO2 footprint.

Urban waterbuffer Rotterdam – By Liliane Geerling

Find more information about the lecture topics, as well as the scheduled times and dates here.

The NBS lectures are part of the important partnership agreement between Partners for Water and the Asian Development Bank.

Register for the online lecture

We are proud to announce that Partners for Water has entered into a partnership agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

This agreement enables PFW to provide technical assistance and expert advice for ADB’s developing member countries on the application and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) for increased water security.

A ceremony was held at PFW’s NBS event on 22 June 2023, with representatives from the ADB and PFW.
We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation on this important topic!

What does it take to implement and scale up Nature-based Solutions (NBS) in the global water sector?

This was the central question at the ‘Scaling & Improving Together – The next steps in Nature Based Solutions’ conference. The much-anticipated NBS professionals event was held on 22 June at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) in The Hague.

One of the frequently cited success factors was making sure implementation and scaling-up processes are inclusive and collaborative.

Enthusiastic panel discussions

“Every country has its own challenges, yet we all face similar problems. For example, too much water in one place and not enough in another. Together, we can develop solutions that benefit us all.” Said Sergio Lopez, the executive coordinator at the Argentinian Ministry of Public Works, getting to the heart of the matter. He and his fellow officials from Chili and Indonesia talked enthusiastically about their recent field trips to several Dutch NBS projects as part of a delegation from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and national governments visiting the Netherlands ahead of the event.

It was so interesting to hear the perspectives from overseas delegates. It is wonderful to see their enthusiasm, openness to learn and commitment towards implementing NBS.

Trang Vu

Ecoshape and Boskalis

Inspiring plenary presentations

The lively buzz in the room fell silent as keynote speakers Bregje van Wesenbeeck (Deltares) and Eva Pfannez (OOZE) took turns inspiring the 150 attendees with their vision on integrating NBS into spatial design. “We are in energy, infrastructure and agriculture transitions”, Bregje says, “but we’re taking on each transition individually. We need solutions that support all of these transitions together. NBS meets this ‘multifunctionality’ criterion.”

Eva emphasised the versatility of NBS by demonstrating how the Indian city of Chennai plans to face both flooding and water shortage by storing excess water in aquifers. A pilot project on a school site in the centre of Chennai provides valuable lessons learnt: “For instance, we now know that to mitigate risk, we need to incorporate the cost of client management, capacity building and awareness raising.”

Bregje supported this observation and pointed out the added significance of collaboration. “It helps to have diverse people at the table. Different people offer different perspectives and solutions. This encourages us to let go of tunnel visions.”

Valuable breakout sessions

Fortunately, the event featured plenty of diverse perspectives. The NBS professionals were given the opportunity to break out into small groups to delve deeper into the relevant themes and discuss them together. These were the key outcomes of those breakout sessions:

  • NBS are likely to be an outcome of integrated and inclusive processes during project initiation.
  • The IUCN NBS Standard can help to effectively design, implement and scale up NBS.
  • An inclusive, bottom-up approach inspires more ownership, creativity and fun.
  • Some stakeholders might seem more important than others, but in the decision-making process, you’ll need all of them.
  • When implementing NBS, nature should be able to do its work. It should be managed as little as possible.
  • Enhancing biodiversity is as important as improving the water safety for inhabitants.

Make sure all people from the designated area benefit from your solution. They’ll want to know what’s in it for them. And you should be able to answer that.

Jan Zijlstra

Speaker break-out session
Holwerd aan Zee

Informal networking

As the final speaker concluded his remarks, the power of collaboration and the value of diverse voices were enthusiastically embraced. The attendees then continued to share their insights and look for collaborative opportunities. They did this at either the informal social gatherings or at the so-called ‘country tables’, which were set up for participants interested in water sectors in specific countries.

When the time came for the participants to head home, there was a collective sense of confidence. The NBS community came together, connected and listened to each other. Now it’s up to everyone to continue doing so. With the evident determination, innovative ideas and enough people at the table, this goal certainly is attainable.


I love the fact that such a diverse group of people came together today. And I think everyone here is aware that we all need to work together.

Gregor van Essen

Managing Partner at The Water Agency

Questions about the event or about Nature-based Solutions?

Please sent an e-mail to, or reach out to Matthijs Zijlmans. 

On March 23, 2023, an important coalition was formed for mainstreaming Nature-based Solutions (NBS) at the New York Water House

This powerful alliance was launched during the UN2023 Water Conference and brought together a diverse range of organisations dedicated to creating a more sustainable future. These include the Asian Development Bank, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Invest International, Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Wetlands International and EcoShape.

By voluntarily committing to the UN Water Action Agenda, these organisations are taking action to create a breakthrough in the application and implementation of NBS for water-related challenges. With the ultimate goal of making NBS a widely accepted practice by 2030, this coalition aims to drive meaningful change in the way we approach water-related issues and environmental sustainability.

Promised commitments

The coalition members are taking ownership of their responsibilities to mainstream NBS by voluntarily committing to:

  • Being an NBS ambassador;
  • Promoting the inclusion of NBS as a potential solution for societal challenges in the water sector;
  • Presenting examples of how NBS solutions act as an alternative to traditional infrastructure approaches;
  • Joining, supporting or creating fundamental and applied research projects to further develop NBS as a standard option; and
  • Promoting, supporting or co-investing in enablers for the development of NBS, such as a sound business case and technical, ecological, social and system knowledge

Partners for Water and NBS

The launch of the coalition was organised by Team International Organisations (TIO) at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) along with EcoShape. Being a part of the RVO and having a strong focus on the application of NBS, Partners for Water applauds this collaboration and is looking forward to impactful results.

Over the past few years, we have already been working closely together on a number of projects with coalition members Invest International, EcoShape and its consortium partners. A key focus within these collaborations has been on using and scaling up NBS to address water safety and water security.

Recent collaborations with Invest International and EcoShape

Both Invest International and EcoShape have been working together with Partners for Water on several initiatives in Indonesia. And some of EcoShape’s consortium partners have recently received funding from the Partners for Water subsidy scheme for various projects with local partners. These have included a study on using natural groundwater buffers in Colombia (Deltares) and a feasibility study for a flood prediction service in Malawi (RoyalHaskoningDHV).

Through these partnerships, the organisations have been able to leverage their expertise, for example on NBS, to address pressing water-related issues.

Action and follow-up

The coalition members will develop the details of their commitment to mainstream Nature-based Solutions further during and after the UN2023 Water Conference. The launch of the coalition is a starting point. Is your organization interested in contributing to mainstreaming NBS? Register your interest on the EcoShape website.

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