MERLIN Deliverable D4.1 2 MERLIN Key messages 1. Mainstreaming aquatic restoration using Nature-based Solutions (NbS) requires involving all relevant stakeholders and understanding their connection with rivers and wetlands. We work with six economic 'MERLIN' sectors (Agriculture, Hydropower, Insurance, Navigation, Peat Extraction and Water Supply and Sanitation). 2. Our data suggests these sector actors are aware of the environmental and socioeconomic challenges arising from degraded freshwater ecosystems and are aware of the types of NbS that MERLIN will demonstrate and implement. However, not all sector actors were convinced of the need for radical change/transformation or that they could rely on NbS to deliver their sector needs. 3. The language of NbS is not well embedded (yet) with these sectors, however concepts of sustainability and working with nature are well understood. With its focus on meeting societal goals, NbS can address the sectors' concerns about balancing environment, social and economic objectives. 4. The sectors are seeking evidence regarding the benefits of NbS to their sector, concrete examples of NbS at the catchment scale and assistance to integrate sectoral concerns into spatial catchment management. 5. There are strong interdependencies and synergies between the MERLIN sectors. However, there are also potential trade-offs and challenges. We are building a Community of Practice to support an understanding of NbS, how we can enable mainstreaming of NbS in the six MERLIN sectors, and most importantly, how the sectors can work together. MERLIN Deliverable D4.1 3 MERLIN Executive Summary Our research has highlighted that there is a shared awareness that the freshwater environment is under threat and that the European Green Deal provides a supportive agenda to address these threats. In MERLIN we focus on how to mainstream freshwater restoration through Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in order to develop solutions for both nature and society, in the spirit of the Green Deal. NbS require the engagement of all relevant stakeholders including the economic sectors that affect, and are affected by, interventions in our freshwater ecosystems. We focus on Agriculture, Hydropower, Insurance, Navigation, Peat Extraction and Water Supply and Sanitation Sectors, but other sectors, including the finance sector, are also important. Our data suggests these sector actors are aware of the environmental and socioeconomic challenges arising from degraded freshwater ecosystems and are aware of the types of NbS that MERLIN will demonstrate and implement. However, not all sector actors were convinced of the need for radical change or that they could rely on NbS to deliver their sector needs. Our challenge is to illustrate how using NbS can advance the Green Deal goals, given that most actors were supportive of the overall vision. Roles and responsibilities remain unclear and some sectors (Agriculture, Hydropower, Peat Extraction) are more involved in implementing NbS within their own properties than others that mainly rely on the 'downstream' benefits (Insurance, Navigation, Water Supply and Sanitation). Some intra-and inter-sectoral tensions were identified; and there are still questions about how to support collective action at the catchment scale to coordinate different actors involved in water management and use. Sectors were concerned about how NbS will balance economic, environmental and social objectives and how 'burden-sharing' of restoring nature will be governed. There were concerns about impacts on business profitability but also about wider trade-offs e.g. with food or energy security. These are opportunities to show how true NbS address societal goals over the longer term, in ways that should help businesses become more resilient to the pressure of climate and other changes. Policies can play a stronger role in supporting NbS and integrated water management. There are also opportunities to value working with nature through certification and value chains; and to harness innovative finance to work at scale and at pace. The approach in MERLIN aligns with the IUCN principles for NbS but there is still a long way to go, due to the challenges outlined above. This is our baseline from which we will engage representatives from the six MERLIN sectors on some prioritised areas for cooperation around provision of evidence, policy and value chain recommendations, implications for social justice and networking. The MERLIN Academy can support this with resources to respond to concerns over information and training. Most importantly, we are building a Community of Practice to try to address the tensions, trade-offs and burden-sharing questions. The robust debates experienced in the development of this briefing illustrates the benefits of such a cross-sectoral and trans-disciplinary forum.