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Accelerating adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia

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Case study
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Through the Building with Nature Asia initiative we accelerate adaptation by integrating nature based solutions into water related infrastructure in Asia. We are building climate resilient landscapes with multiple benefits to benefit people and nature.

“Building with Nature Asia” is a regional initiative by Wetlands International and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in collaboration with EcoShape, One Architecture, convened  in Indonesia, Philippines, India, Malaysia and China, and other countries over time.

Our ambition and approach:

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The challenge we face

Deltas, rivers, lakes and coastlines in Asia are home to hundreds of millions of people and support abundant and unique nature. But rapid urbanisation and economic growth are coupled with increasingly devastating impacts from ecosystem degradation and climate change. Sadly this situation is exacerbated by the often single solution focused traditional response to water-mediated risks. We face the challenge to deliver water infrastructure that protects people while benefiting nature and society.

Shift to integrated solutions

With the growing threat of climate change, the increasing loss of wetlands and their biodiversity, it is vital we scale up nature based solutions as fast as possible. The Building with Nature Asia Initiative responds to this by creating climate 15 resilient landscapes to benefit 30 million vulnerable people in Asia by 2030 through the ‘Building with Nature’ approach’.

Building with Nature approach

‘Building with Nature’ integrates ecosystems services into water infrastructure practice. It has proven itself as a successful participative approach for coastal, river, lake and delta management, combining ecosystem restoration and engineered solutions in an optimal mix.

Building with Nature solutions have multiple benefits: they can accelerate adaptation, enhance water and food supply, livelihoods, carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and health. It represents a paradigm shift from minimising negative impacts to maximising positive benefits for society and nature.

We envision accelerating adaptation by:

Adoption of Building with Nature as a socially and environmentally inclusive engineering approach that transforms the engineering sector and accelerates climate change adaptation across Asia.

We will:

  • Create Landscape scale Building with Nature projects by multi-sectoral consortia in 5 countries by 2030 to boost the resilience of 30 million people (estimate), each inspiring spin-off. In each country, a team of engineers, ecologists and economists will help design tailor-made business propositions for Building with Nature projects, informed by stakeholders, to drive investments in selected target sites.
  • Establish a regional Building with Nature Asia programme to mobilise public and private actors and support implementation and up-scaling in the convening countries through capacity building and awareness raising, facilitating knowledge development and exchange. 

Through a participative process in our convening countries, we are currently developing an operational framework for a fiveyear programme towards reaching these goals.

Join us and support us!

The initiative has been developed through a participative process involving more than 100 stakeholders from the target countries, including representatives from government agencies, private sector, universities, NGOs and development banks. But this is just the start. We seek to:

  • Leverage several billions of investment to enhance the resilience of 30 million people
  • Build further political support in our partnering countries and
  • Build out the partnership

We invite partners and donors to join us and further develop the initiative!

Progress thus far:

  • In July 2019 Wetlands International, EcoShape, Deltares, Asian Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation convened government representatives, experts, private sector and donors/investors from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Japan, Thailand, Germany and the Netherlands in a workshop around the challenge to accelerate adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia.
  • In September 2019, during the Climate Action Summit in New York, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Wetlands International, EcoShape and the Global Center on Adaptation announced their joint leadership and intention to collaborate with other Asian countries on ‘Building with Nature in Asia’.
  • Building with Nature Asia is recognised under the Priorities of the Water Action Track of the Global Center on Adaptation.
  • On 23 June 2020 we organised an Online training on ‘Building with Nature to Accelerate Adaptation’ in collaboration with EcoShape for stakeholders in the 5 convening countries
  • On 24 August, we presented Building with Nature Asia in the Adapt our World: climate adaptation through water action at the Stockholm World Water Week @Home, convened by the Global Center on Adaptation, the Government of the Netherlands and WRI.
  • On 1 September 2020 we facilitated an online regional workshop to collect and discuss further inputs to the Building with Nature Asia Action Plan.
  • On 19 November 2020, we celebrated 5 years of Building with Nature in Indonesia. In the online event we also looked ahead at upscaling the approach in Indonesia and wider Asia, and featured several expressions of support, including from the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the German government, and the Netherlands.
  • On 25 January 2021, we presented the Building with Nature Asia initiative at the Climate Adaptation Summit
  • In collaboration with stakeholders in the 5 convening countries we are currently further developing the building blocks of the Building with Nature initiative.


Supported by:

Building with Nature Asia is supported by The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), Waterloo Foundation, and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.