Book pre-launch and talk show mark ‘a harvesting moment’ for EcoShape

On October 22nd, EcoShape hosted a talk show focusing on success factors – or enablers- of Building with Nature. At the start of the talk show, the first pre-print edition of the book ‘Building with Nature Creating, implementing, and upscaling Nature-based Solutions’ was launched, along with EcoShape’s renewed website.

Dutch Delta commissioner Peter Glas received an exclusive pre-print edition from EcoShape director Henk Nieboer. “The book aims to inspire and to convince decisionmakers to choose Building with Nature,” Nieboer said. “That’s why Peter Glas is the right person to hand it over to as he is responsible for carrying out the Dutch Delta program.” Glas acknowledged the importance of Nature-based Solutions: “One of our mottos is ‘soft where we can, solid when necessary’” he said, respectively referring to nature-based and traditional solutions. “Thank you for offering me this first copy. Books can change the world”, he said, as the publication by the Club of Rome that he read as a teenager had changed his view of the world. The book will be available late November and can be pre-ordered.

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EcoShape director Henk Nieboer (left) and Delta Commissioner Peter Glas

Minister: ‘Nature is our most important ally’

In a welcome message Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, stressed the importance of the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS). In her eyes, being unprepared for climate change is not an option as we can see it coming. “In the Netherlands, we showcase some great examples of how to adapt to climate change. As EcoShape also demonstrates, Nature-based Solutions are the way forward as nature is by far our most important ally,” she said.

Harvesting moment

Annemieke Nijhof, general director at Deltares, opened the talk show calling it ‘a harvesting moment’ for EcoShape, after 12 years of knowledge development. In a personal video Marjolein van Wijngaarden, chair of EcoShape’s supervisory board and project director at Boskalis, recalls how the program started a movement to change the dredging industry’s way of doing things: “People were really positive, it launched itself, and it was quite easy to form a consortium.”

Six enablers

Based on the twelve years of research, EcoShape has defined six enablers for Building with Nature. Book editor Erik van Eekelen (Programme manager at EcoShape and manager at Van Oord) introduced each of the enablers in a video: technology and system knowledge, multi-stakeholder approach, institutional embedding, a business case, capacity building and adaptive management, maintenance and monitoring.

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Marjolein van Wijngaarden and Erik van Eekelen about EcoShape and the enablers

Marker Wadden and Indonesia

Three guests with hands-on Building with Nature experience were invited to the table to discuss the enablers, relating them to their own project experience. Two projects were introduced by a video: Marker Wadden and mangrove restoration in Demak, Indonesia.

Femke Tonneijck (Wetlands International, project manager of the project in Indonesia), underlined the importance of the enabler capacity building: education and knowledge sharing. “Villagers in Demak have new forms of income, and they are now training the next generation. It’s a win-win situation.”

Seventh enabler: the people that make it happen

In the Netherlands, Marker Wadden is a success story of large-scale Building with Nature implementation. Within a few years after the five artificial islands have been constructed, they have had a positive impact on the lake’s ecology.  At the same time, it made the public reappreciate the area.  Project director Roel Posthoorn (Natuurmonumenten) values the unique collaboration between government, NGO’s and commercial parties. “We all had the same goal to improve the area. I think the strong energy of the people involved was key, but also the fact that it was fun to work on this project”. Concluding on the discussion, Nijhof suggested a seventh enabler: ‘the people that make it happen’.

Science, not a religion

Building with Nature might have proven itself, but Nijhof stated it can be challenging to convince people to implement it. “How do we move away from the soft or almost religious green association?” she asked talk show guest Egon Baldal from Rijkswaterstaat. “It’s not a religion; it’s science,” Baldal said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of science. By including new fields like asset management, we can show how different solutions yield.” Femke Tonneijck added: “We didn’t have to convince the villagers in Demak about what to do. It’s important to share your views and to listen. The input and local knowledge from the community were crucial for the design.”

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From left to right: Carolien Wegman, Femke Tonneijck, Roel Posthoorn, Egon Baldal and Annemieke Nijhof.

Bringing Building with Nature forward

Four young experts, Floortje Cieraad (Witteveen+Bos), Floris van Rees (Deltares), Carolien Wegman (HKV) and Niels Nijborg (Arcadis) questioned the guests on their view on how to bring Building with Nature forward. Nijborg wondered how we could include natural capital in a business case. Egon Baldal acknowledged that we need accountants and economists to ‘make added value crisp and clear.’ Roel Posthoorn argued that we should not try to monetize everything. “Sometimes, the return of natural capital is enough, not everything can be expressed in money.”

Watch talk show

Watch the replay of EcoShape talk show ‘The road to successful Building with Nature projects

EcoShape book lauch and talk show ‘The road to succesful Building with Nature projects’