Nature provides our planet with a number of life-sustaining ecosystem services that benefit our economy, and helps society draw from a healthy, biodiverse environment. 

Nature-based solutions (NbS) are any solution that uses nature’s own systems as a design guide. Our infrastructure experts are leaders in incorporating NbS into projects of all scales, delivering healthier, more resilient environments that support communities and biodiversity. This is a sustainable approach to building our future that is affordable, available, and scalable today.

How we can help you

At Arup we believe that prioritising nature and biodiversity, are vital design constraints, ones that inform the most sustainable outcomes. When we design and implement nature-based solutions, it’s because they embody some or all of these characteristics: 

  • Demonstrable benefit for biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Designed to address major societal challenges
  • Positive impact on human wellbeing
  • Inclusive local stakeholder engagement

Nature and water

Our infrastructure teams have pioneered techniques that allow places to act as sponges. In this solution, NbS interventions use natural vegetation and existing watercourses - ‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructure – to hold back, attenuate, and absorb excess water. These techniques bring together water security, environmental protection, and ecological restoration, in an overall scheme that doesn’t rely on simply building physical barriers. 

Each environment is unique, and designs include features best suited to the site, from green spaces, rainwater gardens and permeable paving to rainwater harvesting and retention ponds. Together, these nature-based solutions can transform a neighbourhood’s capacity to flood resilience, while simultaneously integrating more green space to the urban fabric.

Learn more about our work developing sponge cities.


A digital tool that uses satellite photo analysis to identify natural ways to protect against flooding.

Nature and heat

With global temperatures rising, urban environments increasingly experience intensifying temperatures, the result of densification and high use of materials like tarmac, glass, steel and concrete across the built environment. Here again NbS provide the lowest emission and most sustainable response. 

Arup helps towns and cities across the world to tackle urban heat islands, with expanded use of greenery and vegetation, finding ways to bring nature back into city settings, lowering the temperature in the process.

Learn more about our research on the urban heat island effect.