Briefing on policy opportunities for mainstreaming freshwater nature-based solutions (09/2023)
- Transformation (a fundamental change in scale and pace) is required to mainstream freshwater restoration across Europe.
- European Union (EU) public policies are a lever for transformation, through creating new opportunities, maintaining good practices and disrupting drivers of degradation.
- Six EU policies relevant to six economic sectors (Agriculture, Hydropower, Insurance, Navigation, Peat Extraction and Water Supply and Sanitation) were reviewed. The implementation of four policies in selected Member States was also assessed.
- The policies could do more to make the types of measures being demonstrated in the MERLIN case studies more visible.
- The policies can promote Nature-based Solutions (NbS) using the IUCN Global Standard criteria to ensure that all aspects of NbS are properly considered.
- All six economic sectors have the potential to play an important role in promoting the use of freshwater NbS; some sectors such as the Peat Extraction or Insurance sector could be more visible.
- Policies need to work together with aligned objectives, instruments and implementation to have a coherent approach to the biodiversity, climate and economic crises.
- Strategicpolicyplanningprocesses(suchasCommonAgriculturalpolicy strategic plans) can play a role in promoting freshwater NbS and developing cross-sectoral, catchment scale interventions. Review processes for these plans, and for permits or licences, can be triggers for change.
- There are several policy review opportunities arising between now and 2030 to embed freshwater NbS as a mainstream practice.