Going with the Economic Flow

In Going with the Economic Flow, nature is primarily considered a resource for economic growth, to be managed in a cost-effective way. Generating more financial resources by involving more private actors is a challenge addressed in this perspective. Nature reserves are protected throughout the EU through public funds. Outside these areas, nature represents a cherished ‘accessory’ to current landscapes, based on voluntary commitments by business and individuals. Most nature reserves are managed via trusts; other nature areas are privately funded. In many cases, people have to pay for visiting nature areas.


Going with the Economic Flow reflects everyone’s basic freedom to choose their individual lifestyle, including nature as a valuable amenity. Nature is considered a resource for economic growth and job creation and is managed in a cost-effective way.


In 2050, almost 20% of EU territory has been designated as protected nature areas. Outside these protected areas, nature represents a cherished ‘accessory’ to current landscapes, which is managed through the commitment and investments of businesses and individuals.

Nature is protected inside the existing nature reserves. In densely populated regions, houses, offices, restaurants and hotels are built near nature reserves, because of the pleasant human environment. Outside nature reserves, nature is being conserved or developed where businesses and/or individuals are willing to pay for it.

In 2050, most agricultural areas throughout the EU are dominated by large-scale, intensive farming. In areas where extensive agriculture is no longer profitable and agricultural land is abandoned, nature develops without active management.

In 2050, rivers are canalised, to a large extent, creating optimal conditions for shipping, energy production (hydropower, cooling water) and irrigation. Coastlines contain many resorts, restaurants and hotels.

Green spaces in cities vary from small public gardens and parks that are accessible for everyone, to larger well-designed parks only accessible for their owners or for people who pay an entrance fee. On land that has not yet been built up, temporary nature will be allowed to develop.


  • Private actors take the lead in Going with the Economic Flow. Businesses see the potential for creating new markets for nature services, such as private parks, nature retreats and holiday parks.
  • In 2050, the state of nature is being realised through ‘trust governance’, dominated by private initiatives and cooperation. Local and regional governments are responsible for the protection of nature in reserves, but the management of these reserves is outsourced to private site managers (trusts).
  • In this perspective, preference goes to market-based measures taken by governments, and market-based actions by companies, sometimes in cooperation with non-profit organisations. EU nature policy is focused on financing existing nature reserves.