Latest Success Propels Water as Leverage to Next Level of Climate Resilience

Water as Leverage aims to help Asian cities - and the rest of the world - towards climate resilience by delivering on the promises mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main challenge was to find the right approach to bridge the gap between financial parties  and the ideas.

Water as Leverage

Dutch water envoy Henk Ovink (right) moderating at the Water as Leverage meeting in Singapore

Last year, Water as Leverage launched its first call for local and international multidisciplinary teams to develop solutions concerning water, urban and climate problems. These were in this case specifically aimed towards the cities of Chennai (India), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Semarang (Indonesia). It was the start of a year-long inclusive and comprehensive competitive process aimed to identify the most bankable and innovative proposals. The goal is to develop these ideas into resilient, climate adaptation urban water projects.

Building partnerships

Water as Leverage supported the teams and the individual cities in gaining a better understanding of risks and opportunities, interdependencies and coalitions. Building partnerships in these cities helped to advance the opportunities into projects. This demanded a collaborative approach from all parties and a broad expertise base.

Bridging the gap

A year after the launch - from 23-25 April 2019  the parties involved came together in Singapore to wrap-up the first phase and to define the next steps in the Water is Leverage scheme. Netherlands’ Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink was involved during the process and concluded: “What we found in this phase of Water as Leverage, is that the depth of understanding and the wealth of opportunity and transformative capacity in one process is impressive. This, combined with having all stakeholders present, including the international financial sector, really stands out. Every financial partner present said the same thing: ‘we’ve never seen this before!’.”

Ovink continues: “coming out of Water as Leverage there is only one step that the teams, the cities and financial partners need to take now. That is to turn the first projects - the ones that are truly catalytic, the springboards for replication and scale-up - into a ‘brief’ that matches the financial partners’ capacities, and then, together, move the projects towards feasibility and implementation. With that brief comes the last stage of preparation, with ultimate buy-in at national, provincial and, of course, city level for the project proposals. Then we have almost bridged the gap. There is now a roadmap defined for each of the three cities, including aspects such as ‘governance’, to help ensure that this comprehensive approach stays in place. We have identified what needs to be done, who does what, how can we organise it and when the results can be delivered, for further replication and scaling-up. It is important to realise that Water as Leverage is the start of an outward-rippling movement across the world of climate adaptation action.”

Water as Leverage

The Water as Leverage programme is an initiative of the Dutch government and aims to combat global climate and water problems in collaboration with a number of partners. The group consists of the cities of Semarang, Chennai and Khulna. Also involved are: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, FMO, 100 Resilient Cities, Partners for Resilience UN Habitat, WWF, Pegasys and water Youth Network and co-initiators International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and Architecture Workroom Brussels.