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Implementing nature-based flood protection: Principles and implementation guidance

Floods are the most frequent and damaging of all natural hazards globally, often leading to widespread negative impacts on people, as well as costly losses. Going forward, climate change, urbanization and demographic growth are expected to significantly increase the impact of flooding. Effective flood risk management is critical to protect people and their livelihoods, and to limit future losses.

While most flood risk management has involved conventional engineering measures - such as building embankments, dams, levees, and channels to control flooding - the concept of nature-based measures has emerged as a good alternative or complement to traditional “gray” approaches. Nature-based solutions make use of natural processes and ecosystem services for functional purposes, such as decreasing flood risk or improving water quality. In addition, they may help decrease vulnerability to climate change while also creating multiple benefits to the environment and local communities.

This document presents five principles to consider when planning nature-based solutions, as well as implementation guidance. This publication was developed in cooperation with numerous international funding agencies, research institutes, NGOs, governmental organizations, and engineering firms.

More information on PROFOR's work in disaster risk management can be found here.