European nature in the plural

Finding common ground for a next policy agenda

The occurrence of many species in the EU is expected to further decline, making it difficult to reach the 2050 policy vision. This study elaborates four ‘perspectives’ on the future of nature in the EU, in search for new approaches. The study concludes with topics for debate on a future policy strategy that increases engagement of citizens and businesses.

Different perspectives, different approaches

For this study, the researchers have developed scenarios that represent four main perspectives on nature. In each perspective, people are connected with nature in different ways:

  • Strengthening Cultural identity – through love for the local landscape;
  • Allowing Nature to Find its Way – for its intrinsic value
  • Going with the Economic Flow – for its contribution to individual lifestyles
  • Working with Nature – as an essential basis for a sustainable society.

Based on these values, each perspective offers new approaches to the challenges facing nature in Europe today: finding a shared agenda for nature areas, making nature more relevant for the sustainability of economic sectors, and strengthening the connection between people and nature.

A many-faceted vision

The EU should not choose one perspective over the other. Rather, the researchers recommend that a future nature vision should be a many-faceted one, which not only contains protection of species, ecosystems and the services they provide, but also other objectives, ranging from ensuring areas of undisturbed nature and space for dynamic processes to profit making and private initiatives. In particular lacking in policy visions seem relational values, the fact that nature provides identity to people; it would be promising to address nature in such a way that it will foster a sense of place.

External video URL

Videos for all the four perspectives

  • To the video Strenghtening cultural identity
  • To the video Allowing nature to find its way
  • To the video Going with the economic flow
  • To the video Working with nature


PBL Authors
Henk van Zeijts Anne Gerdien Prins Ed Dammers Marijke Vonk
Other authors
Irene Bouwma (WUR)
Hans Farjon (WUR)
Rogier Pouwels (WUR)


Publication title
European nature in the plural
Publication subtitle
Finding common ground for a next policy agenda
Publication date
23 March 2017
Publication type
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