NoWNET’s session outcomes about the Nature-based Solutions for Climate Action with Sound Water Shed Management in the Stockholm World Water Week 2022

Date: 2022-10-20

On 25th August 2022 of the Stockholm World Water Week 2022, the Northern Water Network (NowNET), which the Japan Water Forum serves as the secretariat, organized the session entitled the Nature-based Solution for Climate Action with Sourd Water Shed management with several NoWNET members (Danish Water Forum, Finnish Water Forum, French Water Partnership, Netherlands Water Partnership, Swedish Water House, Swiss Water Partnership, and Korea Water Forum). We discussed the value of NBS to mitigate water-related disasters, sharing lessons learned from NBS projects in urban and rural areas focusing on watershed-level from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We then examined how to overcome trade-off challenges and scale up using technologies, governance, and financing arrangements.

Prof. Lee-Hyung Kim, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Kongju, the Republic of Korea (ROK), presented the “Application of NBS as flood risk management in river basins, Korea and paradigm shift on collaboration and finance to NBS.” He firstly introduced the land and land use change of ROK over the past 47 years and the design guideline for the flood control plan. He also shared the recent flooding problems in watersheds and rivers, particularly in Seoul and Namwon City, in August 2022. He highlighted the enforcement of the design standards only s not cost-effective, and it is also vital to conduct rainwater management reflected in the NBS. Secondly, he explained the low-impact development (LID) cases, such as rainwater pipe maintenance projects linked with the LID for urban design and the application of NBS-based LID in urban areas in ROK, using some analytical data. It presented the effectiveness of LID, such as the reduction of wastewater discharge, pollutant removal, and pollutant runoff and the CO2 reductions in the watershed, and the quantity and quality level of groundwater recharge using LID in Jeonju, Korea. In addition, he explained the effectiveness of measures to prevent stream flooding by introducing the two cases of Jeongancheon, Hampyung Chungnamdo, and Hampyungcheon (Heeonamdo). 

Finally, Dr. Kim introduced the recent ROK’s policy cooperation plan in the water safety field linked to NBS

2019: 3rd National climate change adaptation measures(2021 ~ 2025) (jointly with related ministries)
2020: Plan to restore the nature of our river (paradigm changes)
2021: 1st National water management master plan(2021 ~ 2030) – Water Cycle, Climate Change, Water Use
2022: 1st Watershed Water Management Comprehensive Plan(2022 ~ 2030) – mobilizing the finance for the NBS

Dr. Hirotada Matsuki, head of the Research Group, International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management under the auspices of UNESCO (ICHARM) presented Japan’s traditional river engineering as a nature-based solution. He firstly introduced the Japan’s proverb “moderate water by water”. He then explained Nature-oriented River Works, which have been implemented based on Japan’s River Law. (Japan’s first river law in 1896 for flood control in the Asian monsoon region, the amended River Law in 1964 during its rapid economic growth period to allocate limited water resources for various social sectors, and the current River law, amended in 1997 to cover environmental preservation.). The river managers in Japan are planning and conducting river maintenance for three purposes flood control, water resources management, and nature preservation. In addition, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) Japan directed that “Nature-oriented river works” is essential to all river management of all rivers covering investigation, planning, design, construction, and maintenance. Finally, he highlighted the need to incorporate the natural dynamics of the river and the hydrological dynamics of the ecosystem, quality infrastructure that incorporates culture and people’s participation in engineering, use of locally available materials, and technical capabilities. He also stressed the importance of routine repairability to design sustainability to make the NBS more sustainable. 

Mr. Matthijs Bouw, Founding Principal of One Architecture and Urbanism, the Netherlands, introduced the Building with Nature by EcoShape. EcoShape is a network of organizations and individuals working together to advance the application of Building with Nature (NBS) in water-related societal issues in line with Dutch law through knowledge development via pilot projects to demonstrate and monitor Building with Nature in practice. He then explained the application case in Demak, Northern Coast of Java, Indonesia. The coast is sinking because of subsidence and is threatened by sea level rise. Overexploitation has led to the destruction of much of the mangroves that used to protect the area, and traditional, concrete flood infrastructure is crumbling under natural forces. In order to restore the ecosystem to tackle the current impacts and future risk, his team made a mangrove belt making the fence using bamboo over 30 km. The team worked with the local villagers to teach them to build the structures and to help them reap the economic benefits. The local population can now be the project’s steward, building and maintaining it and monitoring its performance. 260 Community members implemented this project with 5 Research organizations, 3 Non-profit organizations, 3 Private sector partners, 2 Government partners (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries & Ministry of Public Works and Housing), and 1 Innovation network. Through the monitoring of the project, they understood that fishing yields had already more than doubled.

As the lessons of the cases for scaling up climate-resilient development, he highlighted:

Finally, he introduced the Building with Nature Asia by EcoShape has been implemented in several cities in Malaysia, the Philippines, China, and India to Create climate-resilient landscapes to benefit more than 30 million people. 

Dr. Peter Bach, Research Scientist, Department of Urban Water Management, Eawag, presented the incorporation of NbS into the architectural design using the case of a small development in Bern, Switzerland. He then shared his examination about the ways to seek cost effective, sustainable options through such public-private interactions, which also protect the habitat from the urban inundation. As the lessons of his project, he emphasized

Ms. Laila Lüthi, Project Associate at Zurich University of Applied Science (ZHAW) presented the technical and conceptual implementation of NBS in inhabited buildings with a special focus on user experience. She first shared her research using the NBS definition of IWA Publication 2020 “Blue-Green System”- “a circular flow system that implements NBS for managing nutrients and resources within the urban biosphere will lead to a resilient, sustainable and healthy urban environment.”

She explained the building design and the technical approaches to making a climate and resource-efficient apartment building (FELZ Zwei), the climate-resilient House (KREIS House), through her research project in Zurich. When her research project team surveyed the residents living in the building, they identified that 79% would use or implement rainwater treatment to fresh water for themselves; 82% would treat their own wastewater from the bathroom and kitchen and reuse it for watering their garden. 74% do not fear the risks of new water and nutrient treatment technologies. In conclusion, applying for the NBS to the residential building is technically feasible, but social acceptance is still a challenge. There is no clear policy framework, and government support is limited, so she expects more research development and government responses.

Ms. Mathilde Loury, the coordinator for the Life ARTISAN European project on Nature-based Solutions for Climate Adaptation, introduced her project in France, raising the question, “How can nature-based solutions reduce floods and droughts risks in a climate change context?” Firstly, She explained the Impacts on water resources and water-related climate risks in France and the impacts on the territories by climate change & biodiversity loss. She explained the project has been implemented to tackle the issues by creating the conditions for the widespread use of NBS for climate change adaptation. The project focused on implementing NbaS at the local level, the Animation of national and regional stakeholders networks, and Knowledge gathering & Creation of resources and tools. As her key message, she emphasized the necessity of:

She finally highlighted that NBS is not only a technical solution; it’s a project which needs critical upstream phases & concertation.

Prof Karsten Arnbjerg-Nielsen from the Danish Technical University presented assessing the interconnections between the characteristics, perception, and valuation of Nature-Based Solutions. Firstly, he asked what the values of these areas are and how to evaluate them by showing the two photos of the rural areas in Denmark. To respond to the questions, he demonstrates the meta-analysis of the willingness to pay in terms of population density, travel distance, and size. To deal with the significant uncertainty, he highlighted the need to know more about the differences between the locations and the people who value the site. For instance, as the feature of the people who showed high evaluation to the NBs, his research team identified old age, children in the household, high income / expensive housing area, Short distance to location, and like “nature” for” nature’s” sake. In conclusion, he emphasized while the uncertainty is getting much smaller than before, further discussion is nessary about what information we use for ethics and how to ensure the information is reflected in the decision-making.

Dr. Jyri Maunuksela, Principal Specialist, Natural Resources Institute Finland, LUKE presented” Adapting agricultural water services for climate change – Case Morocco”. He shared his three years of testing in Morocco with a local university and energy company. The project aims to maximize carbon capture in a semi-arid climate. His team tested the trees of Acacia, Carob, Eucalyptus, Moringa, Pistacia, Paulownia, and Pine in 3 ha, two sites, and 8 000 seedlings measured. His team also tried to add soil carbon as a form of peat to improve soil water retention. His team also tested the cases of drip irrigation, tank irrigation, and no irrigation. As a result, he concluded

The speakers examined how we can overcome trade-off challenges and scale up using technologies, governance, and financing arrangements in the panel discussion.

The session page in the Stockholm World Water Week 2022

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Chief Manager (International Affairs))