Request > Building resilient coastal communities through Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and Empowerment Tools .

How community empowerment tools and Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) can contribute to addressing coastal challenges and building resilient communities?



Type of requests: Knowledge Synthesis

These requests were included in the project proposal of the European Union’s Horizon Europe – funded project “Socio-economic EMPOWERment of Coastal communities as USers of the sea to ensure sustainable coastal development” (EmpowerUs) in order to consolidate the development of multiple, integrated and flexible solutions related to the challenges faced by coastal communities and by that allow their smooth transition towards more sustainable, inclusive and resilient coastal development.

Expert Working Group
  • Ina Sieber, Kassel Institute for Sustainability, Kassel University, Germany (Co-chair)
  • Jose Ponton Cevallos, Ghent University, Belgium (Co-chair)
  • Ananya Tiwari,  Atlantic Technological University, Ireland
  • Cecilia Gañán de Molina, International consultancy, University of Córdoba
  • Mia Prall, Aalborg University & the Danish Coastal Authority, Denmark
  • Rita Carrasco, CIMA-University of Algarve, Portugal
  • Stella Apostolaki, The American College of Greece, Greece
Methods Expert Group (MEG)
  • Nils Bunnefeld (University of Stirling, UK)
  • Spyridoula Ntemiri (Green Fund, Greece)
Knowledge Coordination Body (KCB) focal points:
  • Simo Sarkki (University of Oulu, Finland)
Eklipse Management Body (EMB) contact points
  • Marie Vandewalle (Head of Eklipse Management Body; Helmholtz Centre for Environmental research (UFZ), Germany)
  • Candice Pouget (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental research (UFZ), Germany)

Coastal communities face many challenges including more extreme weather events associated with climate change, increased pressures from urban development and tourism, as well as changes in traditional and cultural practices.

The project “Socio-economic EMPOWERment of Coastal communities as USers of the sea to ensure sustainable coastal development (EmpowerUs) will support coastal communities to create multiple, integrated and flexible solutions to support their transition towards more sustainable, inclusive and resilient coastal development. The objectives of the project are to 1) co-assess & co-plan six innovative Transition Coastal Labs (TCLs) (see the TCLs in the graphic below), 2) to co-create, test and monitor six pilots for collaborative adaptive empowerment as Transformation Mechanisms, to improve skills in ocean literacy education and awareness-raising and uptake of solutions, to assess, 3) co-monitor and co-evaluate transformation mechanisms’ success and make a transdisciplinary synthesis, understanding the barriers and enabling factors, that can be upscaled, leading to more sustainable, balanced and inclusive coastal development, 4) to support effective knowledge management and transfer to ensure scalability and replicability of project knowledge and improve stakeholder capacity to take direct and sustainable actions.


Start of the process: October 2022

Call for knowledge through literature review and survey: October 2022 – January 2023

Call for experts (CfE n°12/2023):  opened until April 10th, 2023.

Call for targeted expertise (CfE n°13/2023): open until July 28th, 2023 (EXTENDED)  – Read the OPEN CALL

Scoping phase

The request has now finalised the first phase within the Eklipse process: the scoping phase. It is guided by an Eklipse subgroup (see the members above) and aims to refine the question, identify how Eklipse could provide an added value by being involved:  by increasing the policy relevance,  identifying the knowledge and expertise required and provide suggestions regarding methods and resources needed to answer the request.

Challenges and Policy relevance of the request:

Through a preliminary survey to the six Transition Coastal Labs of the EmpowerUs project, Eklipse identified the key challenges faced by those coastal communities:

  1. Seasonal influx of people and heightened holiday home demands
  2. Economic development policies favouring some sectors (e.g tourism, fishing) but negatively affecting local people
  3. Conflicts between different users of the sea and/or with land users
  4. Decline of fishing stocks
  5. Lack of career opportunities for professionals/higher educated
  6. Changing weather patterns
  7. Loss of coastal biodiversity.

These challenges crosscut key European policy priorities ( EU Green Deal, European Rural Vision, 2021 EU Adaptation Strategy, European Biodiversity Strategy 2030 , Horizon Europe Missions Ocean, UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)   (see the Document of Work above for more precision).

Combination of the two initial requests and reformulation:

Following the survey sent to the Transition Coastal Labs (TCLs) and the discussions that took place among the scoping group, it would be a better decision to merge both requests in a first proposal. But after meeting with the requesters, the scoping group concluded that the request should be reformulated to address better their needs. As a result, the following revision was suggested: “How community empowerment tools and nature-based solutions can contribute to addressing coastal challenges and building resilient communities.”

validation of the Document of Work (DoW):

The DoW described the results of the scoping activities and the background of the request and was the basis for the Call for experts (CfE n°12/2023),  opened until April 10th, 2023.

Answering the request

Selection of an Expert Working Group

To answer this request, Eklipse sent out a Call for Expertise (CfE), from which 7 experts were selected in April 2023. These experts covered a broad range of expertise, gender and geographical  representation (7 countries) to form the Eklipse Expert Working Group (EWG).

While developing the methods protocol, the EWG realized that a targeted open call for expertise would increase the disciplines and experience that were missing in the group, as:

  • knowledge in one or several of the following topics: Climate indicators and vulnerability; Co-creation processes, capacity building and knowledge co-production; Cost-benefit and/or economic impact analysis of nature-based solutions (NBS); Engagement of individuals and the private sector including social enterprises.; (E)valuation of cultural ecosystem services; On-ground/practical knowledge of empowerment tools for urban/rural/territorial development; Participatory and facilitation approaches for management/conservation (i.e. PGIS); Socio-environmental justice.
  • and/or with either direct experience in the literature – and people – based knowledge synthesis methodologies, such as Rapid Evidence Assessment or Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis?
  • Or/and originally from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Norway or Sweden, or with professional or research experience related to one or several of the countries where EmpowerUs Transition
    Coastal Labs
    are situated?

Methods Protocol

The EWG is now developing a methodological protocol draft based on the DoW, describing the current knowledge gaps and research needs on the topic, and proposes the best methods of knowledge synthesis to address this request. The methods protocol will be open for public review soon.