EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PHUSICOS – Nature-Based Solutions to Reduce Risk in Rural Areas and Mountain Landscapes

Amy Oen, Bjørn Kalsnes, Anders Solheim, Vittoria Capobianco, James Strout, and Farrokh Nadim
Amy Oen et al.
  • Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Natural Hazards, Oslo, Norway (

The H2020 project PHUSICOS has from 2018-2022 aimed to demonstrate how nature-based solutions (NbS) reduce the risk of extreme weather events in rural areas and mountain landscapes. Mountains amplify risks and therefore the impacts of extreme hydro-meteorological events such as flooding and landslides in mountain areas often affect entire river basins. However, NBS in rural areas and mountain regions have not received the same amount of attention as urban areas. This presentation highlights the lessons learned in order to tackle the challenges of selecting, designing and implementing NbS at the landscape spatial scale in rural areas.  

The PHUSICOS case study sites in Norway, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria represent a broad range of natural hazards, including snow avalanches, erosion, rockfall, flooding and debris flows. The demonstrator sites have undergone a co-creation process with stakeholders to select and plan the NbS interventions. The specific location and NbS selection were based on a rigorous process considering the following selection criteria: risk reduction, technical feasibility, co-benefits, effectiveness, efficiency, potential negative impacts, stakeholder involvement, and compliance with international and EU agreements and directives.

Innovation actions have framed the project activities as an approach to fill NbS knowledge gaps. These innovation actions have included: service innovation to engage stakeholder participation through a Living Labs approach, technical innovation to design an NbS assessment framework in the context of natural hazard risk mitigation to document the effectiveness of NbSs, governance innovation to explore planning and policy frameworks as enablers for the design and implementation of NbS, learning arena innovation to facilitate knowledge exchange through Virtual Reality and Serious Gaming as training programs as well as product innovation establishes an evidence-base and data platform for NbS in mountains.

For example, the assessment framework as a flexible disaster risk management support tool for NbS is viewed as especially relevant. It has been applied to three different NbS interventions to document the baseline scenario and subsequently compared to the NbS design scenario. After completion, the assessment framework will be used to develop the monitoring programs to assess the long-term effectiveness of the NbS interventions. Improved processes and services related to governance innovation outputs focus on exploring ways to improve the planning policy and implementation mechanisms for sustainable use and management of land, water, and natural resources in rural areas and their impacts at the local and wider watershed scale. The most critical governance innovation enablers for successful NbS interventions include polycentric governance arrangements in public administration, participatory co-design processes, as well as financial incentives.

The different innovation actions will be further showcased to share project outputs and outcomes, to reflect on the lessons learned as well as to weigh in on their significance towards long-term impacts.

How to cite: Oen, A., Kalsnes, B., Solheim, A., Capobianco, V., Strout, J., and Nadim, F.: PHUSICOS – Nature-Based Solutions to Reduce Risk in Rural Areas and Mountain Landscapes, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9957,, 2023.