Governance for broad support of BwN solutions


Building with Nature designs need to be supported by society if they are to become a reality. A BwN developer focuses on opportunities and win-win solutions and thus at scoping beyond narrow problem perceptions and sector interests. This requires integrating design criteria across scales, sectors and time horizons, which raises complexity. This section provides an overview of BwN experiences and lessons learned for several governance aspects of BwN-projects and guidance on a number of key governance issues in such projects.

Although other aspects may be distinguished, the ones described here are those addressed in the Building with Nature innovation program. Feasibility of BwN depends on:

Where appropriate the reader is referred to useful examples or practical tools.

Stakeholder Network Management

Building with Nature solutions are innovations which are welcomed by some, and distrusted by others. Serious success factors are: understanding the basic mechanisms of decision making; consciously involving crucial organizations and networks; and using credible arguments in interaction. This section on stakeholder network management aims to increase the support for BwN in society. Advice is provided on how to build coalitions and how to communicate BwN plans to stakeholders and the wider public.

This section is about:

  • How to map and influence arenas, actors, agendas and decision making in society?
  • How to advocate and influence scoping and decision making towards BwN?
  • How to stay responsive to groups in society and integrate their concerns in the design?

A tool related to stakeholder analysis is included in Building with Nature Toolbox.

Regulatory context

Innovations sometimes do not fit into the existing regulations. Ignoring the regulations until they have become an unavoidable barrier is not the best way to deal with them. It is also possible to scan regulations for risks and opportunities and to anticipate differences in procedures timely. The section Regulatory context’ concerning laws, rules and regulations is about:

  • How to map and monitor the legal salience of BwN?
  • How to handle (perceptions of) regulations strategically, so as to seize regulatory opportunities and cope with regulatory obstacles?

Knowledge context

BwN solutions are not routine jobs yet. Therefore, they are generally supported with expert knowledge in order to investigate the local fit, to monitor effectiveness and to scan for unexpected side effects. The interaction between project consortia, governments and scientists requires additional skills and insights which are provided by the section ‘Knowledge context’. This section is about:

  • What are enabling and constraining knowledge factors for realizing a BwN design?
  • How to identify, present and handle uncertainties and how can knowledge providers help?

A tool related to this second aspect Visualising and managing uncertainty‘ is provided in the Building with Nature Toolbox.

Realisation framework

In the first section on governance, called Stakeholder Network Management, it was explained how BwN developers can create space for BwN solutions in a complex and dynamic society. If this is successful and informal agreement has been reached that a BwN solution is welcome to solve a specific problem, more formal arrangements are needed. The innovative character of a BwN project requires an innovative contract, that can deal with the inherent uncertainties of the project. Furthermore, the communication with society should not stop. On the contrary, implementation is a sensitive phase that may draw the attention of entirely new stakeholders, for example, local users who are confronted with construction activities. This means the project organization should stay responsive to unexpected problems and concerns and should continue with open communication during project execution.

This section is about:

  • How to build organisational and contractual arrangements in order to enable the realization of BwN within project constraints?
  • How to maintain trust among local stakeholders through open communication during the execution phase of a project?

Related to the first aspect a building block ‘Innovative Contracting for BwN’ is included in the Building with Nature Toolbox.