Water as Leverage
Water represents man’s most challenging and complex risk. Floods and draughts, pollution and water conflicts combine in conceivably disastrous ways with rapid urbanization, a growing demand for food and energy, migration, and climate change.
But while the water challenges carry with them the risk of disruptive transitions they also offer us the opportunity to use water as leverage for transformative impact. Only a better understanding of the complex risks will allow us to de-risk the world effectively. Recognizing that water can also be used as leverage helps us find opportunities for real change, for transformative projects everywhere and on every scale.
© George Brugmans
We have no time to waste if we want to safeguard our planet and our future, and achieve our climate goals, our sustainable development goals, and reach beyond. To realize the necessary changes we need to build strong and result-oriented coalitions with the ambition to proactively connect innovative and integrated design, good planning, and a strong process to financial commitment and implementation.
Taking up the challenge, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, the Dutch Water Envoy and Architecture Workroom Brussels have initiated Water as Leverage.
In partnership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), and supported by the UN/World Bank High Level Panel for Water and the Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA), they have launched their first project, Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia, on November 9, 2017 at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.
Nowhere on earth are water-related disasters as widespread and costly, both in terms of human life and loss of (social) wealth, as in South and South East Asia. Asian cities account for 83 percent of the population affected by sea level rise. That is why, together with the AIIB and 100RC Asia, we decided to test how water can be used as a lever for change in Asia first.
© Nik Naudt
After a short and intense period of thorough research, fieldwork, and workshops, the Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia–consortium partnered with the cities of Khulna (Bangladesh), Chennai (India) and Semarang (Indonesia). These partnerships are carefully chosen, based on the explicit articulation of water-, urban-, and climate-related challenges that these city regions have, the strategic position as a pilot for similar cases they could be and, as such, the potential in terms of sustainable solutions and transformative capacity.
These three city regions are only a starting point: building on the outcomes a working methodology will be derived and continuously adjusted, as a foundation for following partnerships.
The challenge of Water as Leverage is to match long term comprehensive urban planning with short term innovative transformations ; ambitious climate adaptation plans with bankable projects; developing ever more knowledge of the water system with building more resilient cities; research, design and implementation with inclusive urban alliances. Result driven collaboration is essential, across all sectors, all layers of government, all stakeholders—from activists and vulnerable communities to private and public institutions.
We call on everyone to help us tackle this challenge, to build a global water coalition and together, to use water as leverage for real change. Want to know more, then download the flyer or go to the Water as Leverage–website.