dws-semarang-indonesie-istock-886010262-770pxSix international teams of water and climate experts, engineers, scientists, architects and urban planners have been selected to develop groundbreaking approaches to tackle the climate and water challenges in three cities in Asia: Semarang (Indonesia), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Chennai (India). Several Dutch organisations are part of the winning teams.

The first phase of Water as Leverage Programme was set up by the Dutch government in collaboration with a dedicated group of partners from governments, NGO’s, financial institutions, investors and community stakeholders.

Identify projects
The teams (two per city) will receive a €200,000 contract that will allow them over the course of the next nine months to analyse and explore the challenges in the cities, connect with local stakeholders, build partnerships and participate in an incremental learning process and develop conceptual designs and proposals for urban climate and water projects of their cities.

The six teams each have their different perspectives on the urban climate and water challenges. And the three cities represent a wide range of the global climate challenges. Regional and local approaches will be matched and merged with in-depth research, capacity building and planning.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Dutch development bank (FMO) will help to identify projects, support their development and facilitate their implementation.

Water leverage for impactful and catalytic change
The programme is an initiative of the Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink. According to Ovink water represents the most challenge and complex risk faced by humand kind.

Ovink: 'Floods and droughts, pollution and water conflicts combined with a growing demand for food and energy, rapid urbanisation, migration pressures, and climate change are potentially catastrophic. Yet, the connecting and interdependent strength of water across economic, environmental, social and cultural dynamics provides us with an opportunity that cannot be ignored: water can also be the leverage for impactful and catalytic change, if only we understand its complexity, value water comprehensively and manage it transparent and inclusive'.

Ovink continous: 'Water as Leverage is aimed at exploiting this opportunity to catalyse change and with meaningful and impactful interventions, projects and an approach we must scale up and replicate across the region and the world’.

Overview of winning teams


  • Team 1: “Rising Waters, Raising Futures”: Deltares, IGCS, ITT Madras, Care earth trust, CUDi (Center for Urban Design Innnovation, Karsruhe Institute for Technology, Waggoner & Ball, Benthem Crouwel Architects, Arcadis and VanderSat.
  • Team 2: “City of 1.000 Tanks”: OOZE VOF, Madras Terrace, Goethe Institut, Ramakrishnan Venkatesh, Vanessa Peter, IHE Delft, Rain Centre, Care Earth Trust, Paper Man, Pitchandikulam, IIT Madras, TU Delft, HKV.


  • Team 1: “Creating inclusive and natural waste synergies in Khulna urban region”: Euroconsult Mott MacDonald B.V., Khulna University of Engineering & Technology, Urban and Regional Planning (KUET-ERP).
  • Team 2: “Khulna as a Water Inclusive City”: CDR International, Defacto Ubranism, Nelen en Schuurmans, DevConsultant, Khulna University, RoyalHaskoningDHV, Wageningen University and Research.


  • Team 1: “One Resilient Semarang: Water(shed) as Leverage”: One Architecture & Urbanism, Inc, Deltares, Wetlands International, Kota Kita, Sherwood Design Engineers, Hysteria Grobak, Iqbal Reza, UNDIP.
  • Team 2: “Cascading Semarang - Steps to inclusive growth”: MLA+, Stichting Deltares, FABRICations, PT Witteveen+Bos Indonesia, UNDIP, UNISSULA, IDN Liveable Cities.


Next steps
With the Water as Leverage partners in the region and from the Netherlands, the teams and the cities embark on a nine month collaboration. It starts with research on the ground, building partnerships and rapidly gaining understanding of the complexity of the challenge and the way these teams can develop opportunities. Planning and design through local coalitions and with international talent.

After the research phase the teams will present their first ideas to be selected and developed into bankable projects. Projects that are both implementable as well as transformative. The need to identify those interventions that tackle future challenges, merge different demands and help catalyse the needed change is at the core of Water as Leverage. 

About Water as Leverage 
'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.

This news item was originally published on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl).

(Top photo: Istock)


Read also on this website


More information
Water as Leverage programme