International coalition launches global innovation program on Asian cities water management

The Dutch government, in collaboration with a dedicated group of international partners, is launching a global water innovation program, ‘Water as Leverage’, to invite internationally operating teams of water experts and urban planners to build local coalitions in three Asian cities to collaboratively work on innovative approaches to tackle their urgent urban water and climate challenges with innovative, bankable and implementable design proposals. Chennai (India), Khulna (Bangladesh) and Semarang (Indonesia) are the first three cities within this ambitious program.

The Call for Action is the start of a one-year inclusive and comprehensive competitive process to identify the most ground-breaking proposals and develop these into resilience projects. The aim is to turn water from threat to opportunity and use it as real leverage for impactful and catalytic change. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Dutch development bank (FMO) will help identify projects, support their development and facilitate their implementation.

The program is an initiative of the Dutch Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Henk Ovink: ‘The goal of this unique program is is not only to find the most transformative and ready-to-fund proposals for inclusive and integrated Urban Water Projects, but to develop conceptual designs with all stakeholders together from the outset’. The three cities will pilot a transformative design approach with a view towards replication of its principles elsewhere in Asia. Ovink: ‘Our dedicated group of partners from government agencies, financial institutions, investors and community stakeholders is committed to help bring these ideas to other cities and regions in Asia and across in the world. In this way we not only innovate in one, two or three cities, but we are on the brink of developing a completely different approach to water-related urban challenges throughout Asia, and possibly even on a global scale’.

The Water as Leverage program will offer a contract to six teams (two for each city) after a selection procedure, in which the submitted pre-project proposals will be assessed in terms of quality, ingenuity, feasibility and the incorporation of major stakeholders: local governments, NGOs and businesses, international and locals experts in the teams and partners with funding capacity for the proposals. After the contract assignment the program consists of two phases: Research and Analysis for the Development of Conceptual Designs and the Development of Proposals for Urban Water Projects. The predefined contract price (for phase 1 and phase 2 combined) is €200,000 per team.

For more information on the selection procedure see