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Dutch trade mission in Indonesia discusses integration of Building with Nature solutions for coastal and urban resilience

Published on:
  • Coastal resilience
  • Coastal wetland conservation
  • Integrated delta management

Indonesia faces unprecedented water related challenges including flooding, land subsidence, coastal erosion, and sea level rise exacerbated by climate change. During the Dutch economic mission to Indonesia (8-13 March), Wetlands International discusses how bilateral collaboration on ‘building with nature’, can help Indonesia work towards climate adaptive cities and coastal areas and become a pioneer in coastal resilience.

The Dutch economic mission to Indonesia discusses the long-standing bilateral collaboration including on Integrated Coastal and Water Management. Both countries expect to sign a new collaboration agreement (MoU Water) again in the course of 2020.

While the reality of grey infrastructure schemes still dominate the thinking and spending for climate proofing globally, Indonesia has taken leadership since 2012 in embracing the Building with Nature approach through a project to reduce coastal erosion along the North coast of Java.

Building with Nature is a comprehensive engineering approach that seeks to work with nature instead of against nature. It uses ecological processes to achieve sustainable hydraulic infrastructural designs and bring benefits to nature and society. Ecosystem approaches are combined where necessary with conventional or innovative infrastructure solutions.

Further mainstreaming of the Building with Nature approach can support integrated water management along coasts and rivers, cities and ports in Indonesia.

For example, a recent Risk Assessment of the North Coast of Java, which pinpoints high risk areas with the aim to inform strategic planning for coastal zone management, states that the conservation of mangroves in rural areas should be top priority to maintain coastal integrity. In the long-run, limiting ground water extraction, bringing rivers back into the floodplain and using Building with Nature measures including protecting mangroves seem the most cost-effective strategies for the North Coast of Java. In the more urban areas with less mangrove cover, other hybrid (green-grey) mitigation strategies may apply, integrated into a broader coastal management approach.

Nyoman Suryadiputra, Director of Wetlands International Indonesia presents possibilities for scaling up the Building with Nature during the seminar on coastal and urban resilience.


Nature based Solutions and specifically Building with Nature solutions were also highlighted by several other speakers, including in the opening speech from Lidewijde Ongering, Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Michael van de Watering from Royal Haskoning DHV (RHDHV), Bureau Waardenburg, and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. Also BAPPENAS (Ministry of National Development Planning) emphasised the restoration of environmental degradation.

In Surabaya, during the Seminar on Water Management & Flood Control (Welang river) Pak Fauzy Nasruddin from Public Works and Water Resources Office of East Java Province expressed interest in collaborative management of the Welang River using the Building with Nature approach as one of the options that could be implemented, especially using the concept of ‘Room for the River’ to address flooding.

Building on the existing bilateral collaboration on Building with Nature, continued collaboration could focus on further mainstreaming of the Building with Nature approach in several ways:

  • Enhancing institutional coordination on Building with Nature to address policy, regulatory and governance barriers for investments and implementation in different settings. Building with Nature solutions are difficult to fit in existing legislative context, necessitating policy, regulatory support and leadership.
  • Development of an Indonesian or Asia-wide Building with Nature platform to stimulate multi sectoral and multi-disciplinary collaboration within Indonesia and the wider region. Inspired by the Dutch EcoShape Building with Nature Innovation platform such a platform can support knowledge development, training programs, new project development, and address policy and awareness barriers.
  • Development of (innovative) business cases and financing opportunities for Building with Nature investments
  • Support implementation at scale with feasibility assessments and master planning.
  • Support the Building with Nature Asia initiative to accelerate adaptation in five Asian countries, initiated by Wetlands International, the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs, EcoShape and the Global Center on Adaptation. Through this initiative Indonesia and the Netherlands can take a leading role to support the other Asian countries facing similar challenges with their knowledge and experiences on Building with Nature.

During the trade mission Wetlands International contributes through seminars in Jakarta and Surabaya about Building with Nature.