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The Netherlands plays a rather depressing role in many climate change scenarios with the whole country surrendering to the rising sea levels in the future. However, according to researchers from Wageningen University & Research, it doesn’t have to be that way, and the nature-based approach they used can be applied to any country or region.

A climate-proof city thanks to nature 

The researchers stated that the climate-proof Netherlands of 2120 can be a country filled with green cities, circular agriculture, more forests, water, and swamps for living and working if shaped from a nature-based perspective. 

However, the country is facing many challenges. The Netherlands, per the researchers, is becoming less habitable due to factors such as falling biodiversity, rising sea levels, and a housing shortage. 

The researchers, spatial planner Michael van Buuren and ecologist Martin Baptist of Wageningen University & Research, declared that a new approach to exploiting natural resources and to spatial planning is needed to reach the 2120 scenario. 

It’s not a utopia

The Netherlands in 2120 according to the researchers’ vision was illustrated in a map. Criteria such as delivering optimal outcome biodiversity were crucial since the country can only then fundamentally thrive.

Their vision, while definitely relies on an ideal picture, is “definitely not a utopia,” according to Michael van Buuren.

“We weighed up what was probable, what was possible and what was desirable. The result is a map of what is possible, i.e. feasible and realistic. That is a bit less impressive than what is desirable, but we set the bar higher than what is probable,” he said.


The map they’ve come up with shows a country in which “biodiversity prospers, nature is given free rein, and water has space to flow.”

Using a nature-based approach where nature is the answer to climate and biodiversity challenges can be applied to any region, the researchers say. They invite other researchers to use this nature-based approach to develop their own version of a greener future.

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