Pursuing economic targets of job creation, growth, and innovation while tackling global environmental challenges, has long been seen as impossible. However, any long-term economic competitiveness and security depends on the extent to which natural resources are used sustainably. Therefore, the European Union is investing in nature-based solutions to achieve this double goal. The difference between the prevailing economic model and a sustainable resource use has long seemed insurmountable. While many debates are paralyzed or radicalized, nature-based solutions could offer a transition path with realistic, incremental steps toward a sustainable economy as envisaged by the EU Horizon 2020 vision. This paper outlines the basics of a nature-based scenario for Europe, and proposes criteria to focus, guide, and evaluate the implementation of nature-based solutions, geared at production of wide socioeconomic benefits, provision of jobs, and low-carbon technology innovations.