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‘Nature-based solutions key to sustainable urban development’: new report series

31 March 2021

Universities, governments and funders came together last week to launch a new report series advocating for smart, nature-based solutions to be used for resilient and sustainable urban development.

The report series, Water-sensitive informal settlement upgrading, produced by the RISE program, Monash University and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), explores the RISE experience of the past four years of trialling a water-sensitive cities (WSC) approach to upgrade 24 informal settlements in Fiji and Indonesia.

The three-part series covers the key principles, community co-design, and the technical components of a WSC approach, and how this can come together with the ambition to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals in an integrated and transformational way.

Speaking at the online global launch last week, RISE Program Director Professor Rebekah Brown said that working together across countries, across sectors and across disciplines is vital to solve grand global challenges.

‘There are one billion people on the planet today who live in informal settlements, and by 2050 there will be three billion,’ Professor Brown said.

‘Through the RISE trial, we are asking important scientific questions like, if we use more green, innovative infrastructure solutions, how do they materially improve the health of people – in particular the health of children, and their future prosperity?

‘What do these systems cost, and how can we make them cost-effective and readily implementable for others?

‘By trialling this infrastructure and generating evidence on the health of people and the environment, we are really aiming to transform urban health and wellbeing’.

The City of Makassar, in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, has opened its doors to RISE since the program’s start in 2016 to implement and test the nature-based solutions in informal settlements.

Supporting the report launch, long-time RISE champion Makassar Mayor Mohammad Ramdhan “Danny” Pomanto said the demonstration site in the neighbourhood of Batua has been successful in trialling the solutions.

‘I am proud that Makassar is considered a global pilot city of these technologies,’ Mayor Pomanto said.

‘Off the back of Batua’s success, we are excited to make Makassar a more liveable city by rolling out this approach across RISE’s next group of sites in the city’.

Makassar Mayor Mohammad Ramdhan "Danny" Pomanto launched construction
of RISE's demonstration site in 2018.

He is an advocate for the green infrastructure report series in 2021.

The Asian Development Bank has pledged to support the construction of RISE’s infrastructure. Speaking at the launch, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono said the benefits of the innovative approach are already clear.

‘I visited the Batua demonstration site in 2019 and 2020, and I was heartened to see how the community has contributed knowledge to the project and taken ownership in the process,’ Mr Susantono reflected.

‘The infrastructure is technically innovative, and ADB’s developing member cities across Asia and the Pacific are approaching us to provide them with the technical knowledge and means to implement it’.

2019: Batua community leader Ibu Suneti (right) tells ADB's Bambang Susantono that RISE infrastructure
has improved mobility around her neighbourhood during flooding

For Professor Brown, the report series is about bringing lessons and evidence right to the front of policy formulation and strategic agendas of cities and governments.

‘These reports could have sat on the shelf upon completion,’ she said. ‘But we want them to be picked up and used to inform policy and investments going forward, so we can continue to improve life in our cities and ensure no one is left behind’.

Explore the RISE – ADB report series on water-sensitive informal settlement upgrading here.

Catch up on the launch event here.