Working with Nature – Introduction
What is Working with Nature?
Working with Nature, which is explained in a PIANC Position Paper, calls for an important shift in thinking in our approach to navigation development projects to help deliver mutually beneficial, ‘win-win’ solutions. It promotes a proactive, integrated philosophy which:
· focuses on achieving the project objectives in an ecosystem context rather than assessing the consequences of a predefined project design; and
· focuses on identifying win-win solutions rather than simply minimising ecological harm.
Working with Nature considers the project objectives from the perspective of the natural system rather than from the perspective of technical design. However, Working with Nature does not mean that we no longer achieve our development objectives: rather it ensures that these objectives are satisfied in a way which maximises opportunities and – importantly – reduces frustrations, delays and associated extra costs.
In essence, adopting the Working with Nature philosophy means doing things in a different order. Instead of developing a design and then assessing its environmental impacts – an approach which inevitably revolves around damage limitation and is ultimately not sustainable – Working with Nature advocates the following steps:
1. Establish project need and objectives
2. Understand the environment
3. Make meaningful use of stakeholder engagement; identify win-win options
4. Prepare project proposals/design to benefit navigation and nature
The PIANC Working with Nature Position Paper, which was first published in December 2008, discusses the extent to which the Working with Nature philosophy can already be put into practice, as well as some of the outstanding challenges. It also recognises that developing and delivering such win-win initiatives will take more innovation and imagination in some cases than in others. Notwithstanding such challenges, PIANC is convinced that the rewards of Working with Nature will extend far beyond the natural environment into social and economic aspects.
Working with Nature represents an important element of PIANC’s future strategy. The paper – and the shift in thinking that it encourages – will be actively promoted both within and outside the organisation as a necessary way to contribute to truly sustainable development.
To read the full Working with Nature Position Paper, which is available in many different languages, click here.