Water as Leverage

August 2020


Water is the leverage for best climate impact, yet 'it takes millions to invest billions wisely' – that is the conviction of the Netherlands Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Mr Henk Ovink. The Water as Leverage programme invests these catalytic first millions, with the aim of leveraging the necessary investment for the implementation of catalytic projects, that in turn leverage water for real urban climate resilience.

Water as Leverage in Chennai

Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the southeastern coast of India. Recent immigration has made Chennai the fifth most populous metropolitan area in India.

As a consequence, informal peripheral settlements in low-lying coastal areas that lack access to infrastructure and services house many of the recent arrivals. This rapid increase of population also affects the expansion of impermeable soil and failure of the drainage system. Chennai’s position on the southern coast of India, which suffers from land subsidence, makes the region extremely vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

Water as Leverage in Khulna

Khulna is part of the largest delta in the world: the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta. Most of the delta is composed of a labyrinth of channels, swamps, lakes, and floodplains and consists predominantly of alluvial soils, making it a very fertile region.

Besides direct water issues caused by poor drainage, high baseline water stresses, seasonal river flooding, and sea level rise, the increase in salinity in the Khulna area poses another severe challenge for the sustainable development of the city: crop yields are falling and food prices are rising, threatening the city’s food security and clean water supply.

Water as Leverage in Semarang

Semarang is a harbour city in the Indonesian archipelago with a dynamic shoreline, stemming from natural sedimentation processes and man-made extensions.

The city has always faced hazards such as drought, land subsidence, landslides, water pollution, and floods, but these are likely to become more severe and frequent as a result of climate change. This will result in higher surface temperatures, an increased rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and water pollution, creating income fragility, decreased food availability, and migration.