19 sep 2018

Royal HaskoningDHV has been selected together with its partners to explore and develop innovative ideas into bankable projects on how Khulna, Bangladesh, can become a water inclusive city as part of the Water as Leverage call for action.

Khulna is at a crossroads in history. The next decade is likely to determine whether Khulna can succeed in becoming an adaptive city that can meet its urban and water challenges. Khulna, the third largest city in Bangladesh, is part of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, the largest delta in the world. Unfortunately, the delta is also well known for its vulnerability for natural disasters such as cyclones, sea level rise and floods. The past few decades have seen unsustainable urban and agricultural development which has contributed to blocked (natural) drains, water logging, salinity, ground water depletion, water pollution and in general to a shortage of sufficient fresh water for drinking and agriculture. Thus, threatening livelihoods, food security, health and jobs.

Together with their coalition partners, CDR-International, Defacto urbanism, Nelen & Schuurmans, DevConsultants, Khulna University, Wageningen University and Research, Royal HaskoningDHV envisions Khulna as a safe and water inclusive enclave in an adaptive coastal zone that is a shelter for its inhabitants and the surrounding communities.

Water as Leverage initiative

The Water as Leverage initiative has now selected six international teams of water and climate experts, engineers, scientists, architects and urban planners developing ground breaking, innovative approaches to tackle the immense climate and water challenges in three Asian cities; Semarang (Indonesia), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Chennai (India).Royal HaskoningDHV has been selected to be part of one of the teams for Khulna, focussing solely on developing conceptual designs and proposals for ground-breaking innovative urban climate and water projects in Khulna. The team will have nine months and a €200,000 contract to analyse and explore the local challenges, whilst connecting with local stakeholders and building partnerships within the city and beyond. The aim of the next nine months is to develop projects and ideas that are transformative as well as implementable in Khulna.

Martijn van Elswijk, project manager of flood resilience in urban areas at Royal HaskoningDHV, commented “We need to fully understand the complexity of the water challenges in Khulna, as water is strongly related with urban developments, and how to manage it in an inclusive way for the development of a livable city. We’re looking forward to working with the other members of our team to present a united and well-rounded selection of bankable projects in nine months’ time.”

Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia is an initiative of the Dutch Water Envoy and the Dutch Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and RVO.nl) in partnership with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), Architecture Workroom Brussels (AWB), the Global Center of Excellence on Climate Adaptation (GCECA), and 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), supported by the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water.

Henk Ovink from the Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, the founders of the Water for Leverage initiative, spoke of the project “Water is the leverage for climate impact, if only we understand, value and manage it comprehensively, inclusively and innovatively. That is not easy, it demands a rigorous approach aimed at delivering on our promises of the Paris agreement and the SDG’s. We need better examples and new inspiration to leapfrog into that future and step away from being non-resonance or reactive.

“We must stop repeating the mistakes of the past, stop repairing the damages of past disasters and stop with only building back what was lost. Instead we must really prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future and jump into that future with the ambition to change the world. Water as Leverage aims to develop and implement these transformative projects in a large coalition of public and private partners, experts and local talent and with this inclusive and comprehensive approach, using water as a leverage for making cities resilient”