Looking back at the Oxford NBS Conference

EcoShape partner, Van Oord attended the July conference in Oxford. The conference had the mission: to enhance understanding of the value of Nature-based Solutions to societal challenges and to help ensure they support thriving human societies and ecosystems without compromising efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Van Oord employee and EcoShape Beneficial Use of Sediments Table lead, Nathalie Strookman attended the event and returned with the following notes. Van Oord also created a vlog of their experience.

Overall NBS Conference messages


Nature-based Solutions have the potential to deliver transformative change when doing it right. It is an exciting opportunity to address climate, biodiversity and people in interconnected ways.


However, there are also concerns. Nature-based Solutions should not be in place of emissions reductions – they are not an alternative to keeping fossil fuels in the ground. A number of poor example projects where shared where Nature-based Solutions were used in an offset programme with carbon crediting in order to continue to use fossil fuels.

Key for success

Key in doing it right also lies in equal sharing of costs and benefits and good stakeholder involvement. Especially with regards to indigenous people and local communities: who have a critical role to play in delivering successful NBS. But also it is important to do good monitoring an address the root causes of degradation. All agree: we need to make progress on implementation. Because natural ecosystems have declined by almost half over the past 50 years only and we are in a huge biodiversity crises.


We must change our current view of economy and nature: we need to understand and accept that our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it. We need to stop under-pricing and under-funding nature. This can be done by phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, tax damaging activities and use revenue and savings to invest in nature. There is a huge nature funding gap in which it is important to unlock private financing. Regulation and policy are critical to give the private sector confidence in Nature-based Solutions investments.

Overall conclusion

We can conclude we need to scale up good practices and we are of course happy to contribute to build more best practices and share our knowledge widely! It is for us good to be aware the skeptical view of the private sector in nature-based solutions, and make sure we are doing the right thing. We also felt the focus of the speakers and audience was a lot on preventing forestation and avoid destructive agriculture – indicating the very different interpretations of nature-based solutions.

Nathalie Strookman and fellow Van Oord colleague attending the conference.