World Heritage Site nature-based solution leads the way in reducing the risk of rising sea levels

Prince Hendrik, Sand dyke project shows how investing in nature can be one of the most effective climate adaptation measures.

Insurance is traditionally seen as a mechanism to compensate and absorb the shocks and costs of the unexpected. But it also helps to remove risk, making investment more attractive and subsequently encouraging and enabling more nature-based solutions.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are actions inspired and supported by nature which build resilience and provide social and economic benefits. Natural capital and nature-based solutions come in many forms and contribute significantly to income generation and national wealth. They are often taken for granted for the eco-services they provide, however there is a high level of interdependency between nature and economic activity. 

One such example of a nature-based solution can be found on the island of Texel - a World Heritage Site in the Netherlands, attracting one million visitors each year. It is considered the world’s largest tidal flat system and is protected by the Prince Hendrik Sand Dyke. To mitigate the risk of rising sea levels and avoid any danger of major failure, local authorities looked for an innovative concept. A dredging company found the solution. It placed five million cubic meters of sand and planted two million marram grasses to create a landscape gradient that not only protected the dyke from erosion but enhanced the local natural habitat. The project also delivered an additional EUR 1 million benefits in fish production, climate regulation and water quality regulation.

This 2019 project was one of the biggest dyke reinforcement operations in the Netherlands, and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions supported the construction with a 'Construction All Risks' (CAR) policy - traditional insurance cover for an innovative project. 

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions' Jeroen Weurding commented: "The Netherlands, a delta largely below sea level, has global leading industries when it comes to water management and coastal protection. The dredging companies are active around the world and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions already collaborates with them in sustainable and innovative solutions. My hope is that, going forward, we will be able to co-create, as insurers/investors, with this ingenious industry to build more nature-based dykes and flood protections that make the world more resilient." 

Interested to find out more?