Annex 2 Definitions

The terms natural water retention measures, green infrastructure, and nature based solutions are used interchangeably, but do have different meanings


Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services such as water purification, air quality, space for recreation and climate mitigation and adaptation. This network of green (land) and blue (water) spaces can improve environmental conditions and therefore citizens' health and quality of life. It also supports a green economy, creates job opportunities and enhances biodiversity. The Natura 2000 network constitutes the backbone of the EU green infrastructure. The European Commission has developed a Green Infrastructure Strategy (COM/2013/0249). This strategy aims to ensure that the protection, restoration, creation and enhancement of green infrastructure become an integral part of spatial planning and territorial development whenever it offers a better alternative, or is complementary, to less sustainable choices (commonly referred to as grey infrastructure).


Natural water retention measures target restoration or maintenance of aquatic ecosystems through developing, restoring, or maintaining the environmental capacity to store water based on natural processes. Natural water retention measures can stand alone or support a green infrastructure network, if one is present.


Nature based solutions refer to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling societal challenges such as climate change, water security, food security, human health, and disaster risk management. The term is not used widely in EU policy, but is used in the environmental management community and has a broader meaning that natural water retention measures.


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