Building with Nature in Indonesia in the spotlight in Flagship report on Adaptation

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On 10 September 2019 the Global Commission on Adaptation launched its Flagship report to accelerate adaptation by elevating the political visibility of adaptation and focusing on concrete solutions. In the report, the GCA has exemplified nature-based solutions, such as those pioneered in Indonesia, as an effective way of adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is led by Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank. The flagship report highlights the Building with Nature initiative in Indonesia (Case study 4: Participatory Planning in Indonesia, page 33) as an example of participatory planning to reduce coastal erosion along its degraded mangrove coasts.

Building with Nature involves an inclusive planning process comprising hydrologists, ecologists and engineers working jointly with local communities and government stakeholders to develop sustainable solutions that meet local needs. The approach integrates infrastructure design with the restoration of ecosystems that add value through coastal protection, flood regulation, as well as boosting fisheries, recreation and biodiversity. Building with nature solutions are more sustainable and adaptive than conventional infrastructure, typically cheaper to construct and maintain while enabling more productive and multi-functional land-use.

As such the approach meets the triple dividend criteria as emphasised in GCA’s flagship report: avoided losses, positive economic gains and social and environmental benefits. The approach has the potential to become the dominant approach to tackle water challenges − sought by governments, cities, ports − and supported by planners and investors. In many vulnerable settings nature based solutions are the only possible way forward. As emphasised in the Flagship report, with the growing threat of climate change and hazards from the loss of wetlands and other ecosystems, it is vital we scale up these necessary adaptation measures as soon as possible.

Indonesia which has taken leadership on Building with Nature in Indonesia since 2012 has therefore voiced its ambition to share their knowledge and experiences on Building with Nature with other countries in Asia which are also ranked highly vulnerable to impacts from climate change. In Indonesia a small scale experiment to reduce coastal erosion in Java has today grown into landscape scale implementation to increase protection from coastal flooding for 70,000 people through natural mangrove recovery and sustainable aquaculture. The approach has meanwhile been replicated in 14 districts and there may also be spin-off of Building with Nature approaches in adaptation plans of adjacent Semarang city.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China have already expressed a keen interest in such collaboration on Building with Nature between countries and they have identified tangible opportunities for implementation at scale in different types of landscapes. This was voiced during an event in July 2019 organised by Indonesia, the Global Centre for Adaptation, EcoShape, Wetlands International and Deltares on ‘Accelerating Adaptation through Building with Nature in Asia’.

The event convened a group of experts and representatives from Asia and the Netherlands along with international donors, financiers and private sector to stimulate proper investment, learning by doing and regional multisectoral collaboration on Building with Nature in the region. The joint ambition is to link Building with Nature in Asia to the GCA’s Action Track on Nature based Solutions which will mobilize national, local, and private sector leadership for nature-based solutions.

Building with Nature in Indonesia is a programme from Ecoshape, Wetlands International, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (PU), supported by The Dutch Sustainable Water Fund, The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).