Accelerating climate change adaptation in three Asian cities

We are pleased and proud to announce that this summer, six multidisciplinary teams with international and local partners will start working on developing innovative, bankable and implementable proposals for Urban Water Projects in the cities of Chennai (India), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Semarang (Indonesia). We would like you to spread the word, inspire your networks and partners and help realise this opportunity together!

The program Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities Asia is a collaboration with the cities of Chennai (India), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Semarang (Indonesia) to tackle their urban water related challenges, in an innovative and inclusive way. The Call on Earth Day in April was the start of a one-year collaborative, comprehensive and competitive process aimed at identifying the most ground-breaking proposals and developing and implementing these projects, as catalysts for—physical and social—resilient change. Water as Leverage is focused on the need to accelerate climate change adaptation, through innovation interventions developed in and with these communities at risk, and with the partners that need to see through the implementation.

Accelerate climate change adaptation The big challenge worldwide is to bridge the gap between challenges and ideas, between plans and projects and between a siloed technocratic approach and an inclusive process that connects all stakeholders from day one. The biggest task comes with ensuring an approach where the ones that implement and fund the projects are part of the conception of the ideas to secure that innovation and catalytic projects don’t fall between the cracks of outdated evaluation and standardisation, while at the same time those that suffer are as much part of the solution, and are not left out. Connecting all challenges though water means connecting people, all partners for capacity and resilience, and thus by collaboration mitigate risks and adapt innovatively, for real sustainable change.

It’s all about inclusion, integration, adaption and innovation We must stop repeating past mistakes, stop making investments in isolated projects that aim to deal with the disasters of yesterday and that lead to even worse disasters tomorrow. We have to start funding innovative and transformative projects that link everything together and thus help us meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the climate ambitions of the Paris Agreement and start to change the world and the system from the bottom up. To do so, we must invest in the process of inclusion, collaboration and innovation, redefining the coalition with each step of this approach.

For these reasons, the Water as Leverage programme builds on a design-driven approach. Potential funders for the implementation like the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank and the Dutch development bank FMO are involved from the very beginning, while multidisciplinary teams of international and local partners, urban planners and water engineers work together with the local governments, local stakeholders and networks like 100 Resilient Cities and C40 and knowledge partners for social and climate resilience. Water as Leverage is about inclusion, integration, adaption and innovation at the same time. Embracing the complexity of these wicked problems as an opportunity to help turn risks into rewards.

Act now, no time to waste! Now the real work starts, teams come together and submit their bids and we will work across the region, in Chennai, Khulna and Semarang and make this a reality collectively. Actual implementation is the final aim. Therefore, Water as Leverage is developed in partnership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), 100 Resilient Cities and the Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation. Real change is change on the ground, and in the hearts and minds of those affected, the decisions makers and the rest of the world. We must act now, we have no time to waste!

Parallel to developing solutions and building coalitions we aim to evaluate Water as Leverage and work with the international finance —public and private—community to learn fast and identify the way to bring this approach to scale, replicate it in Asia and the rest of the world. We need to focus rigourously and secure sustainable funding for inclusion, integration and innovation. Chennai, Khulna and Semarang can be the inspiring start of a global journey for urban water resilience, really using water as the leverage for sustainable change.

More information More detailed information about the Water as Leverage program is available on:

The program is executed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more specific information or questions, please contact Sandra Schoof, program manager of the Call

Authors: Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs and Sandra Schoof, program manager Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities Asia.

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