Implementing Nature-Based Flood Protection: Principles and Implementation Guidance

Developed by the World Bank, this report presents principles and guidance for planning, evaluation, design, and implementation of nature-based solutions for flood risk management. This report describes the Principles or key considerations for planning nature-based solutions and offers Implementation guidance, with step-wise actions needed to implement these strategies.

Five basic principles to guide future nature-based project development are discussed at length.

Principle 1: System-scale perspective - Addressing nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction should start with a system-wide analysis of the local socio-economic, environmental, and institutional conditions.

This section describes the relevance of taking into account the natural processes occurring at various spatial and time scales - along with the local socio-economic and institutional context. To fully develop the potential of nature-based solutions for flood risk reduction, these solutions should be considered at the ecosystem level, or in terms of their potential over large spatial scales. And according to the authors, time frames of 20 to 50 years or longer should be applied. Consideration of the scale of the problem and how it will change over time is essential, as ecosystems and their benefits evolve over decades into centuries.

Principle 2: Risk and benefit assessment of a full range of solutions - A thorough assessment of risks and benefits of the full range of possible measures should be conducted, covering risk reduction benefits as well as social and environmental effects.

Principle 3: Standardized performance evaluation - Nature-based solutions for flood risk management need to be tested, designed, and evaluated using quantitative criteria.

Standardized quantification of the effectiveness of nature-based solutions in reducing hazard or exposure is suggested, along with a transparent process of evaluation. “A transparent process ensures that uncertainties are considered as part of the design. Further, such standards will enable comparison with conventional engineering interventions.”

Principle 4: Integration with ecosystem conservation and restoration - Nature-based solutions for flood risk management should make use of existing ecosystems, native species, and comply with basic principles of ecological restoration and conservation.

Principle 5: Adaptive management - Nature-based solutions for flood risk management need adaptive management based on long-term monitoring. This ensures their sustainable performance.

Part II of the guidance follows the general cycle of a flood risk management project - including eight steps towards planning, assessment, design, implementation, monitoring, management, and evaluation. Each step is detailed in the context of nature-based solutions, and includes best practice examples and additional useful resources.  The following steps are described:

  1. Define Problem, Project Scope, and Objectives
  2. Develop Financing Strategy
  3. Conduct Ecosystem, Hazard, and Risk Assessments
  4. Develop Nature-based Risk Management Strategy
  5. Estimate the Costs, Benefits, and Effectiveness
  6. Select and Design the Intervention
  7. Implement and Construct
  8. Monitor and Inform Future Practices


Publication Date: December 7, 2017

Related Organizations:

  • The World Bank


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Planning guides


Go To Resource