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Nature-based solutions (NBS) are increasingly applied to guide the design of resilient landscapes and cities to enable them to reach economic development goals with beneficial outcomes for the environment and society. The NBS concept is closely related to other concepts including sustainability, resilience, ecosystem services, coupled human and environment, and green (blue) infrastructure; however, NBS represent a more efficient and cost-effective approach to development than traditional approaches. The European Commission is actively engaged in investing in NBS as a driver in developing ecosystem services-based approaches throughout Europe and the world. The pool of knowledge and expertise presented in this Special Issue of Environmental Research highlights the applications of NBS as ‘living’ and adaptable tools to boost the capacity of landscapes and cities to face today’s critical environmental, economic and societal challenges. Based on the literature and papers of this Special Issue, we propose five specific challenges for the future of NBS.