Working with Nature

In Working with Nature, natural resources and services provided by nature contribute to the well-being of current and future generations. A paradigm shift towards a holistic approach was realised, together with a transformation of production methods and consumption – the ‘green economy’. There is an explicit balancing of the services that nature provides. This situation is being realised by green frontrunners from society, business, research and government. Education about what nature does, cooperating in innovation networks and pricing of external costs of production and consumption play an important role.


Working with Nature focuses on the contributions of nature to the well-being of current and future generations, while avoiding the depletion of natural resources.


In this perspective, by 2050, the economy has been transformed into a green economy. This is an economy in which goods are produced and consumed in ways that ensure natural resources are not depleted, and where people optimally use the services that nature provides.

Nature is situated in places and managed in ways that optimise the sustainable delivery of the services that nature provides. Large nature areas are well protected, since they provide important services, such as timber, drinking water, renewable energy, and protection against flooding and avalanches.

Agriculture is focused on the efficient use of resources and nature services. It includes, for instance, the ‘smart’ combination of the production of food, feed, fibre or fuel with the conservation of nature. Natural processes, such as soil biodiversity, pollination and pest control, support agricultural production.

By 2050, upstream river areas, slopes of mountains and hills have been re-natured to protect the lower lying areas against flooding and avalanches. In downstream river areas, rivers have room to meander to prevent flooding. Dams used for hydropower or water irrigation are combined with fish ladders to allow fish migration.

By 2050, cities have been substantially greened. Small and large parks used for water retention, urban farming areas for local food production, street trees for reducing heath stress are all examples of such greening. Most new buildings are made of recycled materials and are recyclable themselves.


  • The state of nature in 2050 is being realised by frontrunners in sustainability: key persons from business (agriculture, industry), finance (insurance, pensions), the health sector (hospitals, nursing homes), NGOs (nature organisations, citizen organisations), and knowledge institutes (schools, research institutes).
  • The paradigm shift and the subsequent transformation towards a green economy were stimulated by ‘transformation governance’. This governance mode is mainly based on cooperation across various production chains, such as those of food, feed, fibre, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy.
  • The EU and its Member States stimulated this transformation towards a green economy by enabling innovation. They are, partly or fully, removing the risks to innovators, so that these would be willing and able to participate.