Stakeholders’ views on natural flood management: Implications for the nature-based solutions paradigm shift?

Rosalind Bark, Julia Martin-Ortega, Kerry A. Waylen

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44 Citations (Scopus)
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An exemplar of nature-based solutions (NBS) is natural flood management (NFM), for which interest is growing worldwide. As with many NBS, implementing NFM requires the participation of support of multiple stakeholders. However, we lack understanding about the views and expectations of the many stakeholders who might be expected to enable or implement it. Understanding such views may offer insights regarding whether and how the dominant flood risk management protection paradigm is really being challenged. Using the first survey (N =118) across a range of water and environmental management stakeholders in the United Kingdom (UK), this research explores whether there is support for a paradigm shift to “work with nature” as intended with NBS. We find evidence that some stakeholders view NFM as a “no-brainer”; a judgement based on perceived cost-effectiveness, social and environmental benefits and the failure of the protection paradigm exposed in recent floods. Others, typically farmers and landowners, have more cautious views about change.
All our respondents generally agree that responsibility to enable, implement, and fund NFM should be shared across society, but disagreements remain about the detail and the basis for any enabling payments. We argue that the shared perception of roles and responsibilities provides a foundation for further work to facilitate NFM, explicitly considering principles and specific contractual details. In the UK, the possibilities of post-Brexit agri-environment policy make such a debate particularly pertinent. It is also likely to be productive in many other cases and places, since the paradigm shift entailed by ideal visions of NBS often entails new relationships between stakeholders and new activities ‘on the ground’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-98
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Early online date1 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Nature based solutions
  • natural flood management
  • paradigm shift
  • environmental management
  • stakeholder views

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