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Environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate
change pose a serious threat to development and
poverty reduction in d...
•	 Managing, restoring and strengthening habitats
that maintain nursery, feeding, and breeding
grounds for fisheries, wild...
towards cost-effective solutions. In this proces, there
is a need for multi-disciplinary cooperation through
all phases of...
The newly established Delta Alliance (DA) is an
international knowledge-driven network organization
with the mission of im...
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Deltares Green Adaptation Brochure11 2010


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A Deltares brochure on how Green, Ecosystem based Adaptation approaches can be cost-effective tools to adapt to climate change in developing countries.

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Deltares Green Adaptation Brochure11 2010

  1. 1. Environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change pose a serious threat to development and poverty reduction in developing countries. Adaptation is a way of reducing vulnerability, increasing resilience, moderating the risk of climate impacts on lives and livelihoods, and taking advantage of opportunities posed by actual or expected climate change. Adaptation is therefore becoming an increasingly important part of the development agenda, especially in developing countries most at risk from climate change. Developing countries’ natural ecosystems are generally less anthropogenically affected in terms of coastal defense and river regulation than in highly developed countries. Large-scale extensive water management measures do occur, but generally speaking water management is approached from a responsive, de-centralized perspective. With natural dynamics of local water systems predominantly still intact, developing countries could be especially aided by knowledge on how to cost-effectively make use of these ecosystem services and functions for the benefit of safety, freshwater availability, food security and livelihoods in general. Green Adaptation as a way forward There is an urgent need for effective knowledge dissemination on efficient adaptation approaches to these pressures, increasing multi-functional use of available space. Ecosystem-based or ‘Green’ approaches can contribute to adaptation strategies through the following: • Maintaining and restoring natural ecosystems and the goods and services they provide • Protecting and enhancing vital ecosystem services, such as water flows and water quality • Maintaining coastal barriers and natural mechanisms of flood control and pollution reduction • Reducing land and water degradation by actively preventing, and controlling, the spread of invasive alien species Courtesy: Meteorologii Geopodarki Wodnej Sea level rise, water availability, food scarcity, increasing population and subsidence lead to increasing demands on space in delta areas and require new approaches concerning water management. Healthy ecosystems and good waterquality provide the foundation for economic activities and guarantee a good quality of living. Engineering solutions are often developed from a single perspective, such as enhancing safety, increasing land area or stimulation of economic development. These type of solutions increase demands for limited space and may aggravate conflicts between functions. Innovative Green Adaptation approaches have been developed that provide practical ecosystem- based solutions to adapt to pressures, and provide efficient use of space beyond merely compensating for impacts induced by climate change, or applying single perspective engineering solutions. The Challenges Green Adaptation Ecosystem based adaptation to climate change in developing countries
  2. 2. • Managing, restoring and strengthening habitats that maintain nursery, feeding, and breeding grounds for fisheries, wildlife, and other species on which human populations depend • Providing reservoirs for wild relatives of crops to increase genetic diversity and resilience. Governments and development agencies have recognized this and are beginning to treat adaptation to climate change not as a standalone effort, but rather as an issue to be mainstreamed through all development and environmental policies. Green Adaptation in practice Green Adaptation concepts include ecosystem functions in an integrated approach to adapt to climate threats. Green Adaptation solutions therefore actively use ecosystem services as a cost-effective way to enhance safety, food and freshwater security, and protect livelihoods. Win-win solutions are created in order to limit use of space while producing benefits for multiple functions, sometimes by designing hybrid eco-engineering solutions. As this will combine ‘classic’ engineering know-how with site specific natural components and inherent natural dynamics, there is a need for multi disciplinary breakthrough thinking and acting in new alliances, that try to solve and manage the need for adaptation. Green Adaptation process Green Adaptation examples have shown that there is a need for an effective development process, leading Green Coast – Mangrove restoration in Thailand Together with its partners WWF, IUCN and Both ENDS, Wetlands International developed a program to restore the damaged coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, beach forest, coral reef and sand dunes in the tsunami hit areas in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia. Green Coast adopts a unique approach: restoration & management of coastal ecosystems through a community-led approach, to improve biodiversity and livelihoods of coastal communities. Healthy coastal ecosystems are vital for fisheries, aquaculture and other sources of income for coastal populations such as eco-tourism and agriculture. They also function as buffer zones in case of extreme weather events such as storms and prevent coastal erosion and intrusion of salt water in fresh water systems. Being a well-tested approach in relation to climate change adaptation, the Green Coast model is being promoted by Wetlands International to restore mangroves along highly vulnerable tropical coastlines, for example in West Africa. With Green Coast 2, WI Thailand will restore 80 ha of mangrove forest and 25 ha of sea grass beds, expecting to benefit 4700 people from 9 villages. Room for the River Room for the River is a concept that was initiated by the Dutch government and is now fully implemented in Dutch policy programs. In the national Room for the River program, rivers are given more room to overflow at a total of 39 locations. This room is created e.g. by lowering of floodplains, relocation of dikes, depoldering or the deepening of the summer bed, and thus artificially restoring parts of the historical appearance of the river system (meanders, wetlands). These measures jointly comprise the Room for the River Program. In addition to safety, the Room for the River Program is concurrently investing in environmental quality: the rivers region is made more healthy, attractive and appealing. The region will offer more room to nature and recreation. With your help we can make Green Adaptation common practice! Restoring natural dynamics and morphology in river basins increases safety and natural value.
  3. 3. towards cost-effective solutions. In this proces, there is a need for multi-disciplinary cooperation through all phases of the project realization, based on a co- operative network between science, government, market parties and the public. In order to effectively realize needed innovations in science and techniques there is a requirement for practical alliances between thinkers, do-ers and managers. Solutions should be contributing to long-term healthy ecosystem functioning, which requires understanding of local ecosystem functioning and provided services. Keywords for solutions should be sustainable, adaptable/flexible, robust, dynamic and no regret for ecosystems and society. In our view Green Adaptation is based on an integrated multi-actor approach: Building with nature and ecosystem designs are realized through an integrated design and construction process where different disciplines work together in realizing a most optimal multifunctional and sustainable design. A challenge is to integrate the dynamic behavior of nature as predictable part of the engineering process. This requires a new way of thinking and interacting. Making use of existing networks to share Green Adaptation knowledge To effectively disseminate and share the available knowledge in the field of Green Adaptation, we need to make optimal use of existing platforms such as Delta Alliance, World Estuary Alliance, but also international NGOs. Vietnam –Wetland protection and environmental flows The Mekong Delta is a broad, flat plain that is fed by the Nine-Headed Dragon or Cuu Long River, as it is called in Vietnamese. The 18 million people living in the Mekong Delta depend upon the fertility of the river to produce the rice and fish that contribute 25% of the GDP of Vietnam. Hundreds of fish and bird species occur in the Mekong Delta; most of them are concentrated in the few remaining natural wetlands. Floods are part of the way of life in the Mekong delta, and flooding can be beneficial as it brings down sediments and nutrients to renew the floodplain. Traditionally the negative connotation of the word “flood” did not exist in the Delta and life was determined by the river’s movements. At the onset of the rising water season people planted rice, during the season they fished and collected wetland resources, then harvested rice during the low water season. Upstream of the delta, dams have been built on the mainstem in China and in the tributaries in lower basin, bringing changes to the sediment dynamics and altering flow regimes. Another 11 dams are planned for the Mekong mainstem in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. If these dams are built, fish migrations will be blocked and the life-giving sediment and nutrients that nourish the delta will diminish. WWF has embarked on an initiative to create the Mekong Delta Estuary Biosphere Reserve as a model for sustainable development in the delta. Coastal mangrove restoration and ecosystem-based livelihood improvement will be key measures in this initiative. The intention is to develop biosphere reserves in several provinces. Ecosystem-basedrestorationofthenaturalhydrologyandpreservingandrestoring wetlands is benefiting rare bird species, but also benefits fish populations. Working with communities to improve agricultural and aquacultural practice is another focus, ensuring, for example, that shrimp and pangasius production adhere to higher environmental standards. Certification of delta fisheries, particularly clams, under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will also be of benefit. Concurrently, WWF is working with the Mekong River Commission and others to better understand the full costs and benefits of proposed hydropower development using the concept of environmental flows, to ensure that only sustainable hydropower dams are built. Ecodynamic Design for Room for the River – WaterInnovation in the Noordwaard The eco-dynamic design approach has been applied by the Water Innovation Program by Deltares and the Dutch Government, in a case study for the Room for the Rivers program. In an area that will be de-poldered to increase the discharge capacity of the river (Polder Noordwaard), a small area with houses will have to be protected from floodwater. Instead of a traditional dike, a lower dike with wave reducing willow-plantations in front will be built. The strip of willow trees will be 2 kilometer long and 100 meter wide and will effectuate a wave reduction of 80%. In this way the dike can be lower and the environmental quality is increased at the same time. With multi-functional use of space, enabling nature AND livelihoods is possible! Mekong Delta communities are involved in conservation and restoration programs. Animation of wave reducing levee, where nature is made an integrated part of the defense system. Courtesy:Deltares
  4. 4. The newly established Delta Alliance (DA) is an international knowledge-driven network organization with the mission of improving the resilience of the world’s deltas. DA has four network wings where activities are focused: California, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Netherlands. International platforms like DA, World Estuary Alliance and international NGOs like WWF can play an excellent role in disseminating knowledge and stimulating developments in the field of Green Adaptation. Deltares and Green adaptation Deltares works within a community of national and international partners from public, private and NGO sectors to answer the most important questions that need to be solved for large-scale application of Green Adaptation concepts. Knowledge gaps range from issues concerning design, testing and predictability of functionality, to quantification and validation of desiredecosystemservices.Deltaresisactivelyworking on filling these knowledge gaps, through fieldwork and physical and numerical modeling, with the aim of creating and sharing knowledge. For more information on Green Adaptation developments at Deltares, please contact us at Making use of existing platforms such as Delta Alliance, World Estuary Alliance, but also international NGOs is of vital importance for disseminating the available knowledge in the field of Green Adaptation Building with Nature – Sand Engine The Dutch ‘Building With Nature’ (BwN) innovation program has developed a variety of highly promising Green Adaptation approaches, through a joint consortium of commercial dredging companies, research institutes, consultancies and governmental organizations. A unique concept of Building with Nature is the Sand engine. A huge nourishment of 20 million m3 of sand will be deposited in front of the Dutch Delfland coast, after which wind, waves and sea currents will naturally disperse the sand. This will contribute to the coastal safety in the long term and additionally create areas for nature and recreation. In this approach, maintenance costs are drastically reduced compared to traditional coastal defense structures, as natural coastal processes are being used. The first pilot project in 2010 focuses on knowledge development in the fields of morphology, hydrodynamics and ecology. Coastal protection through ‘Building with Nature’ is making the step from defensive design methods (aimed at minimising negative effect) to design methods aimed at maximizing the potential of the system. Building with Nature in Louisiana: wetland restoration In 2007, after hurricane Katrina a consortium of Dutch companies (organized through NCK, Partners for Water Program), coordinated by WL | Delft Hydraulics, worked on solutions to increase the safety against flooding in New Orleans. The area faces major loss of marshland due to erosion. The approach was nature restoration in combination with higher safety levels, resulting in the idea of the restoration of wetland vegetation as wave reducers in front of coastal barriers. Forested swamps in Louisiana Courtesy:E.Leger, PO Box 177 2600 MH Delft, The Netherlands T +31 (0)88 335 82 73