The co-evolutionary approach to nature-based solutions: A conceptual framework

Herrmann-Pillath, C., et al. | Nature-Based Solutions | 2022 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


The concept of NbS bridges between researchers and practitioners who search for innovative solutions to a wide range of societal problems and challenges, mostly related to ecological issues. Our conceptual paper aims at grounding the concept in theorizing NbS as a variant of ‘co-evolutionary technology’ CET, informed by ecological and institutional economics, and contextualized in recent Anthropocene research. This results in a new definition of NbS. NbS mediate between technosphere and biosphere evolution. We formulate four principles of CET, with the pivot of CET meeting both human needs and enhancing biospheric evolutionary potential, which feeds back on CET in co-creative design. The paper introduces core theoretical concepts, such as distributed agency and affordances, and proceeds in detailing CET along the standard tripartite view of technology, that is, design, production and use. We conclude in arguing that CET are inherently ethical since their design requires equal recognition of various human and non-human actors, both in terms of functions and ways of world-making.