Water opens up development opportunities for cities

Published: 15 August 2018

Six international teams have been selected to start work soon in Asia for the Water as Leverage programme. They will be looking for solutions to climate and water challenges in the cities of Semarang (Indonesia), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Chennai (India). Deltares is supplying knowledge for the Semarang and Chennai teams.

The teams and the cities will be collaborating for nine months with partners from the region and the Water as Leverage partners. The process will begin with studies on location during which the teams will learn to make the most of the opportunities, establish alliances and quickly acquire an understanding of the complexity of the challenges. They will develop plans and designs in conjunction with local coalitions and international talent.

‘The expectation is that, by tackling water challenges in these cities, we can improve the socio-economic situation as well. Because water also creates opportunities for residents.’ This is the ‘water as leverage’ philosophy according to Hans Gehrels, who adds: ‘In these cities, we collaborate with others, and particularly local actors, on ways to address water and climate challenges. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Dutch development bank (FMO) are also involved. That makes support for the solutions we elaborate much more likely, improving the chances that they will actually be put into practice.’

Semarang is expanding; the land is subsiding

There is flooding every year in Semarang. More and more groundwater has to be used, mainly because of economic growth and a increasing population. As a result, land levels in Semarang are subsiding a few centimetres every year. As well as providing sustainable solutions for coastal erosion caused by the loss of vegetation (such as mangroves), it is also important to tackle land subsidence. Only then can Semarang continue to develop and provide its residents with a robust future. Deltares is working in two teams in Semarang: one team will be elaborating solutions in the areas of water storage and water allocation, while the other team will be tackling cascade effects.

The ‘One Resilient Semarang: Water(shed) as Leverage’ consists of One Architecture & Urbanism Inc, Deltares, Wetlands International, Kota Kita, Sherwood Design Engineers, Hysteria Grobak, Iqbal Reza, UNDIP.

The ‘Cascading Semarang – Steps to inclusive growth’ consists of MLA+, Deltares, FABRICations, PT Witteveen+Bos Indonesia, UNDIP, UNISSULA, IDN Liveable Cities.

Chennai India, photo Aleksandr Zykov

Chennai: future-resilient port city

The development of the port of Chennai in recent decades has had a major impact on natural systems, including sediment deposits. Flooding has become more likely as a result. As the city expands in the direction of lagoons and marsh areas, urban water management will become more important, not only because of the risk of flooding but also because of the pressure on water quality. The team looking at Chennai is focusing primarily on the longer term: how can the city continue to grow in the context of current climate change without the quality of life being impaired?

The ‘Rising Waters, Raising Futures’ team consists of Deltares, IGCS, IIT Madras, Care Earth Trust, CUDi (Center for Urban Design Innovation), Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Waggonner & Ball, Benthem Crouwel Architects, Arcadis and VanderSat.

Further development and finance

After the research phase, the teams will present their initial ideas for selection, and those ideas will then be developed further into projects that can be financed.

Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia is an initiative of the Dutch government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Netherlands Enterprise Agency), the Dutch Water Envoy, International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), Architecture Workroom Brussels (AWB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Global Center or Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA) and 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). It is supported by the Dutch development bank (FMO) and the UN/World Bank High-Level Panel on Water. More information can be found on the Water as Leverage website.