On May 28th, we hosted the third webinar in the series AIWW Water Solutions on Risks and Resilience. We received over 230 participation interests from over 66 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, island countries, middle-eastern countries, North America and Australia. The main question that drove the webinar discussion was “How do we build adaptive and resilient systems for risks preparedness?”.
Seven speakers who joined us and shared their cases, examples and experiences with us- Arnoud Molenaar (Lead-Cities, Global Climate Adaptation), Lykke Leonardsen (Head of program for Resilient and Sustainable City Solutions and C40 cities program), Fokko van der Goot (Sr. Environmental Engineer at Boskalis & Programme Manager at EcoShape), Edgar Westerhof (Associate Vice President, ARCADIS), Lindsey Roland Nieratka (Sustainability Manager at City of Boca Raton, Florida, USA), Joyce Langewen (Policy Advisor Climate Adaptation- Amsterdam and Assistant Project Manager, Resilio), Aimilia Pistrika (Water Sector Engineer, European Investment Bank) and Kasper Spaan (Advisor Climate Adaptation Spatial Development, Waternet).
Urban Climate resilience and adaptation
Earlier this January, the government of Netherlands along with research institutions, non-governmental organisations and international organizations focussed on climate adaptation and resilience through a global event called, Climate Adaptation Summit 2021. Arnoud Molenaar elaborated on the outcomes of CAS 2021 and explained the learning from implementation in Rotterdam city of Netherlands. He added, “The main goal was to create awareness and get adaptation higher on the international agenda. There is a global need to accelerate and to scale adaptation and mitigation globally. Another outcome of the event is “1000 Cities Adapt Now” program which is a collaborative initiative of Global Centre of Adaptation and World Resources Institute, Resilient Cities Network and UN Habitat by working as a delivery mechanism, transformative capacity building, science and knowledge development, accelerate and scale solutions- Nature-based Solutions (NbS), locally led actions and urban resilience and data-driven systems.”
Next steps towards actionable outcomes are:
- Continue to develop the content of the program
- Cities Adaptation Accelerator- package of tools that includes the development of new tools, supporting cities in developing their climate adaptation strategy and supporting in risk assessments to develop bankable projects.
- Select cities for the short term plan.
- Collectively develop synergy and added value
- Design a scaling mechanism
- Expand the partnerships to include regional and sectoral partners.
- Shape roadmap to COP26 with a focus on Risks to Resilience (R2R), an important vehicle in COP26.
Another example was presented by Lykke Leonardsen from Copenhagen city, Denmark and she expanded on her ideas on the ongoing paradigm shift paradigm shift in adaptation actions towards systemic adaptation especially in Global South informed by robust data and risks assessment tools.
Primary challenges in Copenhagen include a lot of rain and flooding of roads. Initial solution was to expanding the system which was soon realised to be incompetent for long-term risks. At the same time, focussing on improving life of residents in a constantly changing urban scenario became a driver in such solutions. Therefore, through storm water management and urban space improvement practices to be implemented for over 20 years is currently ongoing. Since, financing is in place, with a flexible and adaptive planning, engaging community in every step of the decision-making and focussing on improving their quality of life helps in proceeding.
Key issue is to work with co-benefits and looking for areas where biodiversity, micro climate, recreational value, social resilience, ease of accessibility and economic growth are possibilities and practically attainable. With this vision, a flagship project which is a park restored into a reserve where 23000 cu.meters of water can be stored is completely functional.
At Global level, through C40 cities program and network the focus is essentially placed in sharing the learning and accumulated knowledge and connecting with other cities especially in COVID-19 times. In C40 three cities networks are working in tandem. Out of which Connecting Delta cities program which Rotterdam city is leading with a focus on urban flooding and water security. Additionally, looking towards C40 to provide data that cities need, for both floods and drought.
Asking about the paradigm shift, Lykke responded “In global south, there is an inclination towards robust solutions, with more systemic approach to adaptation. Thus, there is an opportunity to combine a lot of issues and connecting them through data-fed assessments and local cooperation”.
Learning through examples of good practices
- Example of Coastal Resilience Parnership, South East Palm Beach County; presented by Lindsey Roland Nieratka.
The emphasis of the project was to cut back on the competitiveness quotient of the state funds and prioritising regional requirements represented through collaborated institutional partnership for implementation. The project is currently ongoing and preliminary assessments, cooperation framework, financial mechanisms and governance mechanism have been mutually agreed upon by all the parties. This provided a collaboration front helping them in securing state funds through Florida resilience coastline program. Engaging with local, regional and international partners for knowledge, data and learning also supported in concretising the initial planning. The assessment done on risks and vulnerability presented 12 climate threats including tidal flooding impact on property value and several other correlational threats.
2. Another example from a collaborative approach from an Asian context is from Building with Nature (BwN) BwN is a consortium of organisations from different areas of expertise and harnesses forces of nature to benefit economy, society and environment, aimed at upscaling and mainstreaming.
The case study presented was from Demak, Indonesia, with a 20km stretch of coast, heavily impacted with the removal of mangroves, change of land-use, sediment erosion, frequent flooding, extraction of groundwater in nearest urban centre of Semarang. Through a series of socio-economic and physical measures with close collaboration from community, it showed that transformation is possible.
Major achievement was to dodge artificial substitution of mangrove fields by attending to sediment erosion and enhancing natural sedimentation which in turn restored natural mangroves. Resulting in improved livelihoods of people to three-fold and thereby increasing the productivity of the region.
Enablers for implementation include inter-sectoral collaboration from the beginning of planning and processing, local, regional and international partners with permanent field team and working with private sector and engineering firms in a collaborative form, adaptive management to deal with uncertainties and political willingness and institutional collaboration.
3. Another example from a private data-driven integrated solution is from Resilio who are also AIWW’s Amsterdam Agreement partners, presented by Joyce Langewan. Their transformational systemic work puts them at a transitional stage of scaling up their solutions. Resilio’s smart roof top solutions uses integrated local solutions based on sponge-city concept. Due to lengthy periods of droughts, heat and waterlogging, causing building damage, heat stress for city residents and at the same time pluvial flooding, it is essential to store water and use it whenever needed. Reesilio is re-purposing roof tops, to store water and therefore reducing the impacts of heat island effect and water scarce periods. All roofs are connected in a smart network and are based on forecast and water managed settings which is a new type of adaptive water management. Participation is organised in different ways in their project-by organising meetings for local residents, by informing them with webinars and on street level. Joyce added “Resilio developed a decision support system. The system contains different data streams. These data streams decide whether to open the valve or not. Other macro indicators are the weather forecast and geographic characteristics. Daily life decisions like how much storage space is on the roof or decisions like whether in a particular house kids have flushed the toilet or not”. Therefore controlled discharge is helpful during a precipitation event, thus, decreasing pressure on the drainage system and reducing pluvial flooding.
Financial investments in water projects and linking global city networks
European Investment bank (EIB) largest multilateral borrower and lender in the world and the new EU climate bank. Increase of finance for climate adaptation, aligned with Paris agreement and support with 1 trillion euros in climate action and environmental projects over the decade are major commitments in the vision.
EIB’s Climate strategy: It is set of guidelines for climate action—building the criteria from all contributing sectors, climate risks assessment systems fully integrated in. Thus with every loan EIB approves, assessment of physical, climate vulnerability and risks within the projects, adaptation measures and the residual risks are undertaken.
One of the recent examples is from Mozambique where EIB customised a climate resilient framework loan based on the country’s need. The fund and loan combination focuses on 83% climate action, 74% adaptation and 9% mitigation. Here EIB financed 100% loan amount of 100,000 million euros plus assisted with grant from EU. This kind of loan and grant combination, called Blended funds, gave needed flexibility to the government of Mozambique and receive maximum benefit. The aim was to improve public health and climate resilience and reduce the spread of Covid exacerbated due to excessive flooding.
Another example that Aimilia Pistrika presented is demonstrating multi beneficiary intermediate loans. These loans are given to national promotion banks, and then the intermediaries lend it to final beneficiaries. The specific operation is dedicated only to flood control and management process.
Another kind of funding is the Gap fund which is for cities in low and middle-income countries, struggling with developing climate friendly and resilient infrastructures. Hence, additionally, EIB also provides early-stage technical assistance in developing the projects.
Discussion and Conclusion:
- Both on national and regional levels, it is a development to work towards national climate adaptation plans, but each city needs to zoom into the specific situation and develop their own urban strategies.
- Eventually, we have to work local but we face global challenge. How do we work with so many networks and strategic dialogue between internationally focussed colleagues and sharing is needed in more technical and tactical level? There is so much knowledge already in public domain but the main issue is to share and utilise it. Networks like C40 and resilient cities network are crucial in this case to exchange knowledge. It is not do-able to create a network of networks, but simply use existing knowledge and exchanging good practices.
- Utilising the strengths of different organisations and producing a collaborative oiutcomes should be the focus like in Boca Raton and in BwN solution.
- In order to appply lessons learnt and guidelines of Building with Nature project, assistance is needed to apply them especially with NbS tools proposed and suggested different from traditional engineering solutions. So understanding local situations first before applying NbS to local context is crucial. Thus, concepts require translation into local context which Global network of experts can support with.
- Public investments through different sources require participatory processes with several stakeholders included. How to create investible alliance is a question to ask? Grassroot engagement is very crucial in this regard. Bottom-up is needed and project ownership is required to transform the actions into long-term solutions with the aid of digital tools.
- Design guidelines/criteria for NbS and climate adaptation on one hand, screening projects on climate risks by financing institutes like EIB to co-create a bankable project.
- NbS becoming the basic building block for integrated solutions; valuing the co-benefits is needed for funding of the projects
- Adaptation for all, 1000 Cities adapt now, C40, Resilient Cities Network– all networks are aiming for knowledge exchange for scaling up and providing assistance to cities in building=g their capacities.
- No lack of money with global banks like EIB, EU, World Bank, etc. However there is a lack of bankable projects (that meets the right criteria)
- AIWW2021/COP 26: try to bring networks together and share their lessons learnt, with focus on connecting (potential) good practices with funders for scaling up and accelerating SDG targets.