Impact News

RDI has been playing an active role in the prestigious 10th World Water Forum 2024, held in Bali, Indonesia. Dr. Saut Sagala, a Senior Research Fellow at RDI, was invited by UNESCO Beijing to participate as a panelist at the China Pavilion in the event. Under the grand theme of “Emerging Paradigms for Water Sustainability in Cities: Case Studies in the East Asia Region”, Dr. Sagala delivered a compelling presentation titled “Urban Planning and Design Adaptation to the Water Challenge.” His presentation highlighted global urban challenges while showcasing RDI’s comprehensive research on water-related issues, including nature-based solutions, resilient water management, climate and disaster displacement, and studies from the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) on nature-based solutions.

Global Urban Issues

Floods, water scarcity, and water pollution are some of the pressing water issues of our time. These challenges affect not only small cities but also major metropolitan areas. For instance, Dubai, the capital of the UAE, known for its iconic skyscrapers, recently suffered significant damage due to a storm and flooding that were handled in a relatively short span of time. Similarly, major cities like New York, Hong Kong, and Ho Chi Minh City have also faced severe flooding, illustrating the global prevalence of water-related disasters. In accordance with this, Dr. Sagala further highlighted RDI’s experience conducting research on small and medium-sized cities in Batu City, Indonesia.

Along with floods, water pollution has emerged as a significant urban problem in many regions worldwide. Water pollution could pose serious health risks to all organisms dependent on these water sources and could have profound health implications for the entire ecosystem. Additionally, another urban problem is water supply. Disasters and climate change have strong impacts on water supply, which in turn leads to water scarcity. Disasters such as floods can disrupt water distribution systems and contaminate water sources, making it difficult for urban populations to access safe drinking water, and the effects of climate change further exacerbate this problem.

These aforementioned urban water issues have adverse impacts that not only harm the environment but also have significant social implications. Disasters such as floods and severe droughts can cause substantial disruption to communities, often resulting in forced displacement. For example, in 2022, there were 10,000 people displaced because of tidal flooding in Demak Regency, and more than 24,066 people were displaced due to climate change impacts in the Luzon Islands, Philippines.

Lesson Learned and Way Forward

The global urban issues discussed above underscore the universal vulnerability to disasters, regardless of a city’s size. This vulnerability is further worsened by the impacts of climate change, which intensify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. In order to address these multifaceted challenges, a comprehensive and collaborative approach that involves not only local and national policymakers but also international development partners and the local community.

In his presentation, Dr. Sagala outlines several strategies to enhance the sustainability of urban water resources. He emphasizes the importance of developing and employing risk assessment models to better predict and manage potential water-related challenges. Additionally, he advocates for cities to build the capacity to create and utilize climate-informed zoning and building codes by selecting locations,  designing, and constructing water and sanitation infrastructure that is capable of withstanding specific climate scenarios. Lastly, apply smart water management by promoting digital water demand and water loss monitoring for more efficient and transparent water management.

This session provided an opportunity to share perspectives, challenges, and solutions from a wide range of viewpoints. What has been implemented in Indonesia can serve as a lesson for addressing water problems in China and vice versa. 

Our active involvement in the World Water Forum 2024 further underscores our dedication to working alongside local and global partners to develop and implement sustainable solutions for managing water-related challenges effectively. Our participation highlights our proactive stance in fostering partnerships and sharing knowledge to enhance water resilience locally and globally.

Our past and current projects address water-related issues, including floods, water pollution, and water scarcity, demonstrating our strong commitment to collaborative efforts in addressing water resilience management. RDI has a longstanding commitment to tackling water issues and has forged strong partnerships with stakeholders like the Global Water Partnership (GWP) Southeast Asia and GWP China. Through South-South cooperation, RDI is prepared to collaborate closely to find collective solutions to water-related problems. The 10th World Water Forum may have ended, but the transfer of knowledge must continue to ensure a lasting impact!

The post RDI Session at World Water Forum 2024: “How do Urban Planning and Design Cope with Water Challenges?” appeared first on Resilience Development Initiative.

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