Conceptual Note to the Editor

Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 947-966

First online:

Building with Nature: in search of resilient storm surge protection strategies

  • E. van SlobbeAffiliated withAlterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre Email author 
  • , H. J. de VriendAffiliated withEcoShape Foundation/Deltares/Delft University of Technology
  • , S. AarninkhofAffiliated withEcoShape Foundation/Royal Boskalis
  • , K. LulofsAffiliated withSchool of Management and Governance, University of Twente
  • , M. de VriesAffiliated withDeltares/University of Applied Sciences, Hogeschool Zeeland
  • , P. DirckeAffiliated withARCADIS Nederland/Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences

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Low-lying, densely populated coastal areas worldwide are under threat, requiring coastal managers to develop new strategies to cope with land subsidence, sea-level rise and the increasing risk of storm-surge-induced floods. Traditional engineering approaches optimizing for safety are often suboptimal with respect to other functions and are neither resilient nor sustainable. Densely populated deltas in particular need more resilient solutions that are robust, sustainable, adaptable, multifunctional and yet economically feasible. Innovative concepts such as ‘Building with Nature’ provide a basis for coastal protection strategies that are able to follow gradual changes in climate and other environmental conditions, while maintaining flood safety, ecological values and socio-economic functions. This paper presents a conceptual framework for Building with Nature that is used to evaluate coastal protection strategies, based on a case study of the Holland coast in the Netherlands. The added value and the limitations of these strategies are discussed.


Storm surge protection Coastal maintenance Building with Nature Ecosystem services Adaptive management Sea-level rise