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At the 'Building a Resilient Future' event during the Climate Action Summit in New York, EcoShape director Henk Nieboer presented the joint initiative for scaling up Building with Nature in Asia on behalf of the Indonesian government, Wetlands International, EcoShape and the Global Centre for Adaptation (GCA).

Factors of success

In his pitch, Henk Nieboer stressed several factors of success in the Building with Nature (BwN) approach. ‘The interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral way of working is crucial to help transform the civil engineering sector in Asia. After all for Building with Nature we need a systems approach, adaptive management, learning by doing and working with all stakeholders. By supporting vital ecosystem services and biodiversity, our concepts underpin Sustainable Development Goals such as those related to access to fresh water, improved livelihoods, food security and community resilience.’

Triple dividend

The partners have managed to overcome barriers to large-scale adoption of the BwN-approach in both The Netherlands and in Indonesia. Henk Nieboer: ‘In Demak, Indonesia we are working in a consortium with the Indonesian Ministries of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Public Works and Housing, Wetlands International and EcoShape on a flagship project called ‘Securing eroding coastlines through Building with Nature’. The project creates favourable conditions for the return of the mangrove system along with sustainable practices for aquaculture in the region. This project will result in the triple dividend of avoided losses, positive economic gains and social and environmental benefits. The pilot project is producing visible and measurable positive returns and has been upscaled already.’

Application across Asia

Henk also presented the shared ambition for the application of BwN principles across many other countries in Asia. The Building with Nature in Asia initiative explores possibilities for the implementation of BwN in 15 landscapes in five countries by 2030 to accelerate climate change adaptation in Asia. ‘Indonesia intends to scale up BwN for shoreline restoration, building on the experience of the project in Demak. And Palu, Malaysia is looking at beach nourishments at island resorts whereas the Philippines want to apply BwN to create better conditions in cities’. Indonesia has expressed ambition to share their knowledge and experiences with other countries in Asia.

Joint ambition

In July 2019, during a high-level meeting in Rotterdam of various Asian countries a joint ambition was expressed to stimulate collaboration to overcome barriers to the adoption of the Building with Nature approach across Asia. The Global Centre for Adaptation will work with Indonesia and other countries to shape this ambition into a commitment to their Nature-based Solutions Action Track. This will help mobilize national, local, and private sector leadership for nature-based solutions.

Challenging path

Henk concluded his speech with the following commitment: ‘The Global Commission on Adaptation has set out a challenging path for global adaptation in their recent flagship report. Nature based solutions are an important part of the solution. We are committed to work with you all to make this happen, based on the favourable results our pilots in Indonesia and elsewhere have produced already.’

Shared Ambition