Capacity building


An example in Indonesia

Demak and Northern Java’s deltaic shorelines suffer from severe erosion and related flooding hazards, caused by mangrove conversion for aquaculture, groundwater extraction and infrastructure development. Multiple actors in Indonesia have acknowledged that a fundamental shift in approach towards coastal vulnerability problems is required to restore and secure sustainable and climate-resilient economic development. A more holistic and long-term solution is needed that addresses both the root causes of the problem, while considering the economic and social well-being of the residents. A Building with Nature approach fits particularly well in the ambition of the Indonesian government to position itself as a maritime nation and to manage coastal areas in a sustainable and resilient way, thereby improving quality of air and water.

To fully embed Building with Nature in the Indonesian context, uptake of the approach had to be ensured within multiple stakeholder groups, such as different layers of the government (i.e. regional to national), engineering firms, NGO’s, universities and contractors. The BwN approach is gaining traction but is still relatively new in Indonesia and as a result awareness of the adaptation and mitigation potential and other associated benefits of the approach are limited. To better embed BwN in Indonesian standards of practice, the following type of training events took place:

Training of professionals

  1. The Training of Trainers (ToT) at universities and knowledge institutes
  2. The development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that incorporates Indonesian examples
  3. Standalone training events at governmental institutions

Training of community

  • Training local community where BwN solutions are being implemented

Training of trainers

A Training of Trainers (ToT) event aims to build a pool of new and competent instructors who can then teach the material to other people. Deltares and TU Delft developed such a training program on Building with Nature, adapted to the Indonesian and broader South East Asian context. By participating in the course, the participants learned what elements of BwN can be incorporated in their existing educational materials, were able to identify the training needs of their own target group and were able to draft a curriculum that is a coherent description of learning objectives, learning activities, evaluation methods to integrate BwN in their teaching activities. After their own training, the pool of qualified trainers can continue to deliver the developed modules for the relevant target groups and will spread the BwN philosophy within different networks.

The following universities and institutes participated in the ToTs:

  1. UNDIP – University Diponegoro, Semarang.
  2. UNUD – University Udayana, Bali.
  3. UNBRAW – University Brawijaya, Malang.
  4. ITB – University of Technology, Bandung.
  5. ITERA – Institute of Technology, Sumatra.
  6. UI – University of Indonesia, Jakarta. 
  7. UNEJ – University of Jember, Jember.
  8. UNSRAT – University of Sam Ratulangi, Manado.
  9. ITK – Institute of Technology, Kalimantan.
  10. BPPT – Institute of Technology and Application, Jakarta.
  11.  PUPR – Ministry of Infrastructure, Jakarta.
  12. KKP – Ministry of Fisheries and Marine affairs, Jakarta.
  13. PUSAIR – Center for Research and Development of Water Resources, Bandung.

In total 2 ToTs took place: in January of both 2019 and 2020. The first training event was held in Semarang, the second on Bali. The target group of these training events were high level professionals from different institutes, most of which were engineers, geologists and ecologists. Trainers and teachers from universities or governmental institutes of Indonesia were approached if they were interested. After a training needs assessment, the training material was tailored to the specific needs of the participants. Both training events were a total of 4 days, and included lectures, interactive sessions, presentations and a field day.


  • The trainers can instruct the BwN content on their own, within their network.
  • The pool of trainers can reach a far wider audience, in numbers and in scope, than any individual consultant ever could.
  • By teaching BwN at universities, future generations of professionals are already familiar with the core concepts of BwN.
  • When identifying potential solutions for their flood risk reduction measures, professionals will be more likely to consider a BwN approach.

Lessons Learned:

  • In order to properly imbed the BwN content in existing curriculum, a training need assessment is required. This should be done weeks, if not months in advance.
  • A lot of resources are required because of the length of the training period. A minimum of 3 – 4 days is normal, but the training can easily last 2 weeks depending on the participants, goals and budget available.

Example Training program

Day 1
 Introduction roundInteractive
Introduction BwN and training modulesPresentation
How to define BwN?Discussion
Lunch break
AfternoonTeaching objectives and training needs assessmentPresentation
Introduction field tripPresentation
EveningDinner with whole project team, including official openingSocial activity
Day 2
MorningField trip to illustrate implementation and monitoring/evaluation of BwNField trip + assignment
AfternoonFeedback on field trip and field assignment.Interactive
Hazard/problem identification and system understandingPresentation
Teaching system understandingDiscussion circle
Day 3
MorningStrategy and measures, BwN vs traditional approachPresentation
BwN teaching materials (toolbox)Presentation
Including BwN in personal curriculumAssignment
Lunch break
Training materialsDiscussion circle
EveningKaraokeSocial activity
Day 4
MorningWelcome by UNDIPCeremony
Presentations of assignment BwN curriculumPresentation by participants
Lunch break + pray
AfternoonDiscuss follow-up of the trainingInteractive
Wrap-up and closure of training 

Massive Open Online Course

Massive Open Online Courses, otherwise revered to as MOOCs, are web-based training events that can host an unlimited number of participants. Usually interactive in nature, they consist of video’s of lecturers and professionals and include weekly assignments. Including the homework, a MOOC can take up to 4 – 8 hours per week and can easily last over 6 weeks. The TU Delft has been running a successful BwN MOOC since 2018, which has been followed by thousands of coastal practitioners around the world. The content was updated in 2020. Since then, the MOOC has a more international allure, and now includes BwN case studies that have been implemented around the world. For example, we were honoured to have Dr. Rudhi Pribadi, an experienced BwN practitioner and mangrove specialist from Indonesia. His lecture is about the importance of mangroves and describes how mangroves contribute to coastal safety and provide a whole suite of benefits.

The organisers sent invitations throughout their network and asked people to join the BwN MOOC and inform their peers as well. The MOOC discusses the basics of engineering design and ecological principles, relevant to the Building with Nature approach. It then goes on to show several case studies and gives participants the tools to form their own opinion on whether a hydraulic structure is meeting the engineering, ecosystem and societal goals related to BwN.


  • MOOCs have the potential to reach a very large audience.
  • Because most MOOCs are for free, there is low threshold to join.

Lessons Learned:

  • The resources and initial investment required to make and design a MOOC is large.
  • Many people sign up for a MOOC, however only a few participants work through the entirety of the training program.

Standalone training events

The aim of these training events was to create awareness at different governmental institutes about BwN principles. By introducing BwN, trainees would be more likely to consider BwN solutions for their coastal safety measures. The participants of the training events were mainly governmental clerks with backgrounds and expertise in engineering. In most cases, the trainers for these events were drawn from the ever-growing pool of BwN champions. That is, professionals that had participated in the ToT, were asked to give lectures at the ministries, provinces or municipalities.

Multiple training events were organized. A training event was split in two distinct sections. The first section was aimed at conveying the basics of BwN. The lectures focused on teaching the importance of system understanding, stakeholder engagement, and ended by discussing different BwN case studies that have already been implemented. The second section of the training event was more interactive. The participants were split in groups and were tasked to discuss how BwN could be incorporated in their own activities. By the end of the day, most participants had a basic understanding of what the benefits are to BwN.


  • Government employees will be more likely to reach out or consider a BwN-measure  in coastal safety.
  • Interactive training sessions with governmental institutes can be insightful as to the applicability of BwN within their context. In our case:
    • Research institute on Bali started to consider incorporating coral reefs in their design
    • The ministry of infrastructure is considering a hybrid design, where green and grey infrastructure are combined.
  • Training events are an opportunity to understand how specific governmental entities function. During sessions it can become obvious why BwN is or is not an option.

Lessons Learned:

  • Such events are usually ad hoc, and thus little time is available for preparations.
  • The audience can be very diverse, both in terms of academic background, and seniority. Trainers need to remain flexible and be able to adjust accordingly.

Training local community

Given the participatory nature of BwN, it is essential that community engagement is part of the process. Essentially it is a relational process in which professionals and community members engage in activities to achieve a common goal. Initially the process is aimed at building trust and respect, but eventually all parties involved become crucial to the success of a BwN project. Because even the most technically feasible BwN project is likely to fail if communities are not properly engaged. In the case of Indonesia, community efforts were crucial in successfully restoring mangrove habitat.

A coastal field school was setup in Indonesia, were for multiple years learning activities took place. The program enabled communities to advance their livelihoods by sustainably managing their coastlines and its natural resources. The training process is highly iterative, were subsequent trainings are based on participant responses. The rationale is that such an interactive approach results in increased motivation and capacities to act and a measurable behaviour change that contributes to the project´s overall objective. The Wetlands International team in Indonesia provided local facilitators that were continuously active in the field throughout the project life time. They helped empower communities by increasing skill in both technical, political, market and social domains. These are just some of the training material discussed with the local communities:

  • Ecological mangrove rehabilitation
  • Fish food training
  • Freshwater aquaculture training
  • Sustainable aquaculture training
  • Waste management training
  • Safety training

Eventually, local communities were able to implement more sustainable methods of aquaculture and actively participated in the restoration of mangrove habitat.


  • Parties can engage in open dialogue in order to discuss insights, or frustrations. Instead of taking legal actions that can greatly slow down the process.
  • Working with communities has the added benefit of gaining valuable insight into the functioning of the local ecosystem and legislative system.
  • Engaging with communities gives an opportunity to address other goals besides coastal safety, for example: reducing poverty, reducing inequality and promoting gender equality.

Lessons Learned:

  • Building trust is a slow and arduous task. Be aware that time is needed.
  • Not all projects have the resources to get a team continuously active in the field.