CEDA Iberian Conference

Dredging for sustainable port development


27-28 October 2016, Lisbon, Portugal

M.M. van Eekelen, EcoShape / Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors, The Netherlands

Building with Nature (BwN) responds to the need of aligning the interests of economic development and care for the environment around hydraulic infrastructure development. This is accomplished by working with the natural system in such a way that society’s infrastructural needs and the interests of stakeholders are met, while at the same time creating new opportunities for nature. Since 2007 the EcoShape consortium is developing and mainstreaming this way of thinking. The first Building with Nature innovation program ran from 2008-2013 and was focused on demonstrating that Building with Nature works via a combination of fundamental research and development of design rules and expertise on the basis of existing projects as well as new pilot projects. EcoShape and partners have currently established a second Building with Nature program in which we aim to bring the BwN approach and concepts another step further. As in the first program we do this by implementing and learning from BwN pilot applications in a broad range of environments.

The main knowledge themes addressed in the new program include systems understanding, nature based design of the BwN concepts, business cases and governance. As the strength of BwN is in utilizing and/or providing ecosystem services, a thorough understanding of the local system is a first necessity to ‘assess suitability’ of potential BwN concepts. Next, design of concepts requires knowledge and tools to ‘engineer’ the ecosystem services that are used and/or provided as part of the solution. The development of a business case for BwN concepts requires proper valuation of the (ecosystem) services delivered and insight in the beneficiaries of those services. Finally, governance aspects that promote or hinder the realization of BwN concepts need to be identified.


The current scope of the new program adds up to over 37 mln € and is funded ‘bottom-up’ via a diversity of subsidies, research grants, project development funding as well as a significant cash and in kind contribution from partners of the EcoShape consortium. Currently, the pilot applications in the new program are supported by monitoring programs and scientific research and cover a hybrid flood defense in the pilot Houtribdijk (Lake Marken), two sandy strategies for flood safety along the Dutch coast (pilot Sand Motor Delfland and the Hondsbossche and Pettemer sea defense), sustainable rehabilitation of mangrove coasts in Indonesia, salt marsh development in the Wadden Sea near the harbours of Harlingen and Delfzijl and some smaller-scale pilots in the urban setting of Dordrecht and Rotterdam.

Next to a short, more general introduction of the BwN principles, the presentation will focus on the pilots and concepts as tested in the current program, with focus on the sustainable harbour development pilots. To conclude some recent developments within the BwN II program will be highlighted as well as a preview on future developments.

Last update: 7 November 2016