Participatory Design of Nature-Based Solutions: Usability of Tools for Water Professionals

Borjana Bogatinoska*, Angelique Lansu, Jean Hugé, Stefan C. Dekker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Participatory processes provide opportunities for water professionals such as scientists and policymakers and other stakeholders such as the local communities and farmers to meet, exchange information, deliberate, and share values. There is a diversity of rapidly evolving participatory methods, here defined, as tools for supporting the process of designing nature-based
solutions (NbS) together with the stakeholders. However, this requires a systematic and informed selection to facilitate the adequate choice of tools, aligned to the requirements and context of the water professionals and the stakeholders for the design and deployment of NbS. Despite this, there is
still little progress and knowledge accumulation on how to select the most context-appropriate tool(s).
Consequently, in this research, we propose a stepwise framework for the use of participatory tools, which we categorize as: (i) tools used for defining the hydro-meteorological hazards (HMH) and its impact on stakeholders—knowledge tools (ii) tools used for co-designing NbS with stakeholders— co-creation tools and (iii) tools used for co-implementing the transition towards NbS—transition
tools. We then apply and test this stepwise framework on the participatory processes used in eight brook catchments distributed in four countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom. The framework is designed in steps that would lead to respectively: selecting, classifying, mapping, and grading the participatory tools leading to an informed and systematic decision of a tool or suite of tools for the design and deployment of NbS with stakeholders. With the application of this framework, we see that among the water professionals: (1) knowledge tools are central in the problem
definition stage, particularly with non-technical stakeholders; (2) most anticipated co-creation tools are e-Tools/Virtual tools and workshops; (3) transition tools favor visual tools as a way of enabling the transition towards management practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5562
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2022


  • brook catchment
  • co-design
  • decision support
  • hydrometeorological hazards
  • north-western Europe
  • stakeholders
  • usability index


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