IMEDEA Researchers Develop a Conceptual Framework for Implementing Nature-Based Blue Solutions"


The growing concern about biodiversity loss and climate change has generated a demand for effective solutions to address these challenges on a global scale. In response, Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) have emerged as a promising alternative, but despite their potential, the implementation of these solutions in marine and coastal environments, known as Blue NbS, has encountered significant obstacles.

 Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) are approaches and strategies inspired by nature to address environmental, social, and economic challenges. These solutions are based on the concept of using and working with nature to solve problems and enhance the resilience of ecosystems and human communities. Instead of relying solely on technologies and artificial structures, NbS focuses on designing and implementing solutions that mimic or enhance natural processes. NbS are considered a sustainable and effective alternative to addressing challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, water scarcity, and other environmental and social issues.



Blue Nature-Based Solutions (Blue NbS) are characterized by their implementation in marine and coastal environments, which entails facing various challenges and issues that have hindered their effective execution. These obstacles include the complexity of implementation due to the interconnectedness of marine and coastal ecosystems, insufficient financial resources, and the absence of a clear regulatory framework regarding ownership, management, and responsibility for marine and coastal ecosystems.


The effective implementation of Blue NbS is limited by the absence of a comprehensive framework, identified as one of the main challenges according to experts. In response to this issue, a group of researchers from the European project MaCoBioS has developed an integrated conceptual framework designed to guide the selection of Blue NbS, taking into account both social challenges and specific socio-ecological contexts.


The conceptual framework for Blue NbS consists of four progressive steps:

  • Identifying the social challenges to address;
  • Highlighting the underlying ecosystem services and ecological functions that could contribute to addressing those challenges;
  • Identifying the specific environmental context in which the intervention will be implemented;
  • Offering intervention options that could address the identified social challenges. These interventions can range from protection with passive restoration to the implementation of active restoration measures.


Foto: Continuum of ecosystem recovery based on MPA protection levels and restorative activities. (Figure adapted from Grorud-Colvert et al., 2021 for the continuum of MPA protection levels and built on to include restorative activities).

This conceptual framework is a significant advancement towards the successful application of Blue Nature-Based Solutions. Its flexible design facilitates adaptation to the singularities of each marine ecosystem, making it a highly valuable tool. It also emphasizes the importance of more thoroughly integrating socio-economic aspects and keeping the framework updated with the latest scientific advances, ensuring its relevance and long-term effectiveness.


"The study aims to improve the framework by more fully integrating socio-economic considerations. This means incorporating a deeper understanding of the social and economic aspects related to the implementation of interventions. To ensure its relevance and ongoing effectiveness, the framework will be periodically updated with the latest scientific information. In summary, these steps aim to provide decision-makers with a solid, adaptable, and informed tool for implementing Nature-Based Solutions in marine and coastal ecosystems," comments Silvia de Juan, one of the researchers participating in the project.


This study is part of the objectives of the H2020 MaCoBioS project, specifically the objective "Assessing the effectiveness of nature-based solutions and protection measures to increase the resilience capacity of marine coastal ecosystems." 


Link to the article here