Accelerating adaptation through 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, One Architecture and the Global Centre on Adaptation, 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. 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 and other crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 resilient landscapes to benefit millions of people in Asia and nature through the 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. This will benefit tens of millions of people in cities and settlements along vulnerable Asian coasts, lakes, rivers and deltas, while 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 spin-off. Landscape propositions stimulate action bottom up and include agendas of work organised around selected landscapes in which we aim to promote Building with Nature solutions. 
  • Establish a Building with Nature Asia platform to mobilise public and private actors and support implementation and up-scaling. As the engine room of the initiative this platform builds momentum for nature-based solutions by building capacity and awareness, facilitating knowledge development and fostering exchange of experience between countries. 

Through a participative process involving more than 100 stakeholders from the target countries, we are currently developing the Building with Nature Asia Action plan which outlines an operational framework for a fiveyear programme towards reaching these goals.

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.

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

Leaflet Accelerating adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia