Building with Nature in Asia

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Case study

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, the Global Centre on Adaptation and ONE Architecture, convened  in Indonesia, Philippines, India, Malaysia and China.

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. Wetlands in these landscapes form natural buffers against impacts of sea level rise, floods and storms, and are vital for water and food security and local livelihoods. 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.

Decision makers face the challenge to deliver water infrastructure that protects coast, deltas, rivers and lakes, while benefiting nature and society and increasing resilience to climate impacts. Repeated calls are being made for the adoption of nature-based solutions within the suite of response options that are inclusive and have wider societal benefits.

Shift to integrated solutions

Building with Nature integrates ecosystems services into water infrastructure practice and 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 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. As a result, there is growing recognition for Building with Nature as a leading climate change adaptation strategy.

With the growing threat of climate change and other crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and hazards from the loss of wetlands, it is vital we scale up these necessary adaptation measures as soon as possible. The Building with Nature Asia Initiative responds to this by building climate resilient landscapes to benefit millions of people in Asia 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. This will benefit tens of millions of people in cities and settlements along vulnerable Asian coasts, lakes, rivers and deltas, while also inspiring global adaptation and seeking synergies with enhancing water and food security climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

We will:

• Create 15 climate resilient landscapes in 5 countries by 2030, each inspiring further spin-off;
• Establish a Building with Nature Asia platform to mobilise public and private actors and support implementation and up-scaling.

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 around the challenge to accelerate adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia. Participants agreed that there is an urgent need to act, that often traditional infrastructure no longer suffices to tackle multi-dimension challenges and that Building with Solutions are the way forward.
  • 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.
  • In collaboration with stakeholders in the 5 convening countries we are currently further developing the Building with Nature initiative towards achieving our ambition and to embed it within the Action Tracks of the Global Centre on Adaptation with the aim to launch it during the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 January 2021.

Leaflet Accelerating adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia