The global challenges associated with the effects of climate change, population growth and biodiversity loss require a systems-level approach to developing, assessing, and implementing sustainable solutions to ensure the prosperity of both planet and people. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are uniquely placed to deliver multiple benefits at local, regional and landscape level. This short course, developed by Cranfield University together with NbS experts from all around the world, enables professionals with an interest in NbS to broaden their understanding of how they can be applied for improved water quality through integrated land and water management.

The course will illustrate how NbS can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, either by themselves or in combination with other technologies or strategies. As the world shifts towards net zero, nature recovery and water security targets, being able to assess potential nature-based solutions (NbS) in different contexts will become a key skill for all designers, regulators, consultants, academics, and NGOs involved in environmental studies.

At a glance

  • Dates
    • Please enquire for course dates
  • Duration8 weeks of instruction + 8 weeks for final assignment
  • Cost


    Fee includes all course materials, live sessions and web portal access for six months.

    Concessions available

Course structure

The course is delivered online and is organised in eight modules covering NbS principles, technologies, strategies, tools and implementation guidance. The material is a mixture of targeted lectures, live hands-on workshops, case studies in multiple formats, live webinars, and engaging practical assignments to help internalise the material, encourage reflection and spark new ideas. Your instructors are available to answers questions throughout the course and the activities will encourage interaction with your fellow delegates. There is a live session each week, which will be either a webinar or a targeted workshop to put theory into action. There is also a built-in two week break halfway through the course to help you relax, catch up, or reflect on learning acquired. 

Each module can be done at your own pace but have been designed so they can be completed in a week at a dedication of 4-6 hours/week. At the suggested commitment, you should be able to complete the taught components within 2 months.

What you will learn

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe, contextualise and explain nature-based solutions to technical and non-technical audiences,
  • Assess benefits from an economic, social and environmental standpoint,
  • Recognise best practice and identify current limitations of nature-based solutions,
  • Identify trade-offs of nature-based solutions in different contexts,
  • Understand the barriers and enablers for successful implementation of NbS schemes.  

Core content

  • Principles of ecological engineering and NbS context,
  • Environmental and economic quantification of NbS benefits,
  • Ecosystem services and life cycle analysis,
  • The importance of multipurpose designs,
  • Treatment wetlands for water and wastewater treatment,
  • Sustainable urban drainage systems,
  • Green roofs and green walls,
  • Natural flood management strategies,
  • Ecosystem restoration and biodiversity net gain,
  • Integrating NbS in the circular economy,
  • Implementation and funding guidance.
  • Regenerative agriculture.


2024 Timetable, download here.

Most weekly (optional) live sessions are one hour long, with the exception of the final session lasting 2 hours.

Who should attend

The course is open to delegates from a variety of backgrounds, including environmental scientists, biologists, civil and environmental engineers, and those interested in using ecological principles to solve environmental challenges in urban and rural settings. This is a professional development course that thrives on the diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds, reflecting the varied expertise and context in which NbS can be applied.


This course is accredited by CIWEM

CIWEM logo


Discounts are available for Cranfield staff and alumni (20%), IWA (20%), CIWEM, CWA and British Water members (10%).

Join the IWA to access the IWA registration discount.

IWA International Water Assosication 

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.