Project Updates

Here we present updates on significant PolyUrbanWaters project activities and milestones. We are also on social media:

17 May 2021 

Research Update 4 – Why new development areas and urban expansion areas are of strategic importance for water-sensitive transformation.

Studies in Indonesia have shown that the performance or treatment capacity of even decentralised wastewater systems suffers significantly from uncontrolled inflow of stormwater, especially during heavy rainfall events. (e.g. BORDA internal surveys, Citywide Inclusive Sanitation Technical Assistance Hub for South Asia, SANIMAS 2020). This example alone, highlights the importance of integrated stormwater and wastewater management for efficient urban water management. A comprehensive water drainage concept can not only counteract the flood events that are increasing in many places, but also reduce the pressure on existing and to-be-developed wastewater systems and their cost-relevant technical design. Efficient drainage plays an essential role in this respect.
In the context of urban planning processes, not only the separation of wastewater and rainwater flows should be considered. Rather, the pressure on drainage systems should be reduced through effective management of solid waste (prevention of blockages in sewers) and by reducing the amount of stormwater runoff in the first place. Here, urban planning should keep in mind that large-scale sealing of land contributes significantly to generating large water-run-off volumes. An urban design that provides for large water infiltration areas, e.g. through the creation of green and blue spaces on public squares, parking bays, sidewalks and also on public and private properties, contributes significantly to climate and water-relevant resilience. During the formulation of the New Urban Agenda in the course of the Habitat III process, the potential of polycentric urban development was intensively discussed (see NUA, Article 80). However, the international discussion on polycentricity mainly refers to large urban agglomerations that aim to relieve the pressure on inner-city density zones by developing new/additional urban centres.

Relevance for PUW: Urban expansion areas: The need for integrated planning of water-relevant infrastructure at the early stages of development: For secondary and tertiary cities, however, new development areas and urban expansion areas are of particular importance – planned today and hopefully developed tomorrow along essential coordinates set by the city authorities. Unfortunately, the reality of urban development shows that plans alone rarely find their way into implementation. That is why it is important that the city administration undertakes integrated planning of water-relevant infrastructure at an early stage, and proactively ensures the development of this infrastructure. Here it is vital that cities – possibly with the support of regional and national development banks – are provided with the financial resources for such proactive action at an early stage. Once the roads and drainage systems have been built and the areas sealed according to current practices, the cities have forfeited a large part of their creative leeway.

May 2 2021

Research Update 3: Sector-focused urban development

The localization of the SDGs aims to move towards a more system-based, i.e. cross-sectoral planning and implementation practice. Sustainable management of urban water resources is difficult to achieve without more comprehensive urban development processes. Here, for example, the development of urban capacities for the management of residential and industrial waste or the development of resource-efficient settlement structures should be considered. However, since the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development in 1992, cross-sectoral cooperation has been called for without it having become widespread practice of municipal / urban development in industrialized countries, emerging economies and developing countries. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that in the cities in SEA and / or the partner cities of PolyUrbanWaters enormous progress has been made in the last decades to provide the citizens with basic needs services (health, water, electricity, transport, etc.).

Relevance for PolyUrbanWaters: Towards cross-sectoral planning and an impact-oriented approach

At the same time, decision-makers also see the need for a transition from an output-oriented administrative practice (x households connected to the sewer system, x km drainage systems developed, etc.) to a more impact-oriented planning policy (improved health, improved quality of life, reduction of social gaps) where SDG-oriented local policy can be concretised. However, the analyzes carried out by PolyUrbanWaters to date show that the sector orientation that predominates in cities is of a structural nature. The administrative guidelines and budgeting practice in many cities often only permit cross-sectoral cooperation to a very limited extent. It is budgeted whether, for example, x households have been connected to the sewer system or x km drainage systems have been developed. In the course of the reform of public institutions, such indicator systems have certainly made considerable progress with regard to accountability. At the same time, such an output orientation complicates the planning and implementation of intersectoral approaches that are more aimed at an impact orientation. These are only provided for to a very limited extent in the administrative processes and accordingly they are only rewarded to a limited extent. However, the decentralization policy in Indonesia, for example, opens up new room to manoeuvre for the municipalities. There is certainly a need for development and clarification as to how impact-oriented approaches could be anchored and budgeted for in the administrative system (e.g. using a corresponding indicator system). Related innovation budgets could be used to quickly identify and implement pragmatic and flexible solution approaches.

April 20 2021

Research Update 2: Urban expansion, land conversion and investment dynamics

The question of the room to manoeuvre for medium-sized and smaller cities for their sustainable transformation was already an important subject of the debate in the preparation process for the Habitat III Conference 2016 and in the formulation of the New Urban Agenda. It was generally recognized that also in these cities, the conversion of the existing building stock and the stock of infrastructure is an extremely complex task: formal and informal settlement structures with their complex ownership and usage structures that have grown over decades and often centuries, infrastructures integrated into urban densely populated areas, dynamic investment activities that hardly follow urban planning guidelines. Not least for this reason, the strategic importance of urban-rural/peri-urban transition zones for sustainable urban development was intensely debated, which is highly relevant for many cities in SEA: where today the agricultural use of the land and a village-like settlement structure is predominant, urban settlement and industrial areas will have emerged tomorrow. This development is also evident in the cities of Sleman, Sam Neua and Kratie or is already in full swing: where there are still rice fields today, measures are increasingly being taken to develop land for residential or commercial purposes. Many cities in SEA are more reactive than proactive towards the investment dynamic.

Relevance for PolyUrbanWaters: Proactive design and development of urban-rural/per-urban transition zones

However, the discussion about the New Urban Agenda has shown that the cities in these urban transition zones still have significant influence on sustainable urban development. In the partner cities of PolyUrbanWaters it is also evident that the early definition of protection zones, the designation of public spaces, the definition of standards and the planning of integrated infrastructure are essential cornerstones for securing public services / basic needs services and possible sustainable urban development. However, the proactive action of the city administrations also requires partly complex negotiation processes between the various relevant actors at the city district level. Who owns the land that is earmarked for infrastructure development or the development of public parks? How can the current users / owners be compensated and how can the affected communities be included in the decision-making processes? How can future homeowners and investors be involved in planning processes at an early stage so that, not least, the infrastructures can be sustainably maintained and financed? Which departments of the city administrations, which will later be responsible for their implementation and their long-term management, must be included in the city planning at an early stage within the framework of intersectoral cooperation?

As the first studies of the project show, answers to these questions will have to be answered on a location-specific basis or within the governance structures of Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos. Nevertheless, it is already evident today that relevant parameters for the proactive design and development of urban-rural/per-urban transition zones can be identified and appropriate instruments can be developed that will be relevant for a large number of secondary and tertiary cities in SEA.

5 April 2021

Research Update 1 –  The burden of legal frameworks that don´t match capacities

The research conducted so far highlights the importance of a legal framework that allows secondary and tertiary cities to develop water-related infrastructure that matches their financial and institutional capacities. Unrealistic requirements based on ideal models can prove counter-productive for a water-sensitive transformation and even the sheer provision of water related basic needs services. In the SEA region, for example, legislators are increasingly defining effluent standards that can be achieved under laboratory conditions or in an optimal institutional setup, but are difficult to achieve in the economic and social realities of cities. It has been known for a long time that centralised or decentralised waste water treatment systems suffer in many cases from power cuts, unmanageable spare parts supply, unclear, poorly performing and under-financed management structures and finally lead to the failure of often technically high-performing systems. An exclusive orientation of the legally prescribed effluent standards to this theoretical “state of the art” bears the risk of a massive misallocation of investments and public budgets and of a long-term burden on public budgets.


Relevance for PolyUrbanWaters: Matching local capacities and progressive implementation

Legislators in the SEA region should give cities the opportunity to design a water-sensitive transformation according to local financial, institutional and local capacities in line with the principle of “progressive implementation” promoted by the United Nations. Here, cities should be given room for informed decision making, in which they can balance ecological, social and economic goals in the sense of the SDGs. Political decision-making should make reference to the best possible protection of natural resources and public health and the financial and institutional possibilities of the cities. And here, special consideration should be given to the sustainable management of water-sensitive infrastructure and its expandability over the coming decades. This space provided by the legislator for political decision-making at the local level is also current practice in many industrialised countries (USA, Germany, etc.).

PolyUrbanWaters Report (PDF): Responding to urban water challenges in Southeast Asia

18 March 2021

PolyUrbanWaters Research Report – Definition Phase

 The PolyUrbanWaters team has recently published the report “Responding to urban water challenges in Southeast Asia: Introducing polycentric management approaches to create resilient, water-sensitive cities”. This publication is based on intensive consultation processes with partner cities in SEA and examines experiences and trends of sustainable urban development and urban water resources management in the region.

The work presented in the publication:

  • contextualizes polycentric approaches to urban water management as a relevant cross-sectoral instrument for localizing Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda, especially for secondary and tertiary cities in Southeast Asia;
  • introduces a conceptual framework for how the integration of innovative urban planning approaches with urban water resources management can contribute to the establishment of water-sensitive cities in the context of rapid urban transformation processes and limited institutional capacities;
  • identifies main features of how planning and implementation processes for water-sensitive cities can be configured and which prerequisites should be created on the local and national levels;
  • presents the research design of the PolyUrbanWaters project, which has the main goal of developing scalable and transferable instruments for polycentric water-sensitive urban development, the validity of which will be tested at the local level; and includes analyses (elaborated by PolyUrbanWaters network partners) of framework conditions and experiences that are relevant for a water-sensitive transition of secondary and tertiary cities in Southeast Asia.

> Download full report (PDF, 26MB)

First International PolyUrbanWaters Conference: 24-25 March 2021

15 February 2021

PolyUrbanWaters conference 24-25 March 2021: Polycentric management of urban waters in fast-growing cities and peri-urban areas in Southeast Asia

The first international conference organized within the framework of the PolyUrbanWaters research and development project (BMBF 2019-2025) will explore the political, ecological and social relevance of integrated approaches in management of urban waters on a global scale. The conference brings together international researchers, practitioners, cities and regional representatives, policy makers, and global networks to discuss diverse cases from Southeast Asia and around the globe and sheds light on current development challenges, new experimental approaches towards integrated water-sensitive urban planning, and the possibility of knowledge transfer and transnational learning.

> More information

Water Security and Climate Change Conference 2

11 February 2021

Meet PolyUrbanWaters at the 2021 Water Security and Climate Change Conference

PolyUrbanWaters will participate in the 2021 Water Security and Climate Change Conference (WSCC). The conference is an annual event where scientists, policy makers and stakeholders from various backgrounds discuss the diverse facets of water security and its relation to climate variability and change.

During the conference, PolyUrbanWaters will present its working hypothesis and first results in a session that explores SDG 6 in the urban context by using innovative tools and methods to assess, analyze and address synergies and trade-offs between SDGs.

The WSCC is an initiative of the Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation (Exceed) program, and has been held since 2016 under the auspices of the Centers for Natural Resources and Development (CNRD) and the Sustainable Water Management in Developing Countries (SWINDON) network. In 2021, the WSCC is convened by the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) in Hanoi.

Due to the current global pandemic, the conference will be held online and free of charge. Join us for the whole conference from 1–4 March or just for the PolyUrbanWaters presentation on the 4th of March at 9:10 AM CET.

Further information and registration:

Announcement: Four more years of funding for PolyUrbanWaters

10 February 2021

PolyUrbanWaters gets the green light for research and development

We are very happy to announce that our application for the research and development phase was successful and PolyUrbanWaters will be funded for another four years.

Since 2018, we have been working together as a consortium of partner organizations and partner cities on the localization of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing cities and peri-urban areas. The aim of our collaboration is the creation of new models for water-sensitive, sustainable and inclusive development that meet local needs and comply with the realities of urban areas.

During the definition phase of the project (August 2019 – March 2021), we have sharpened our understanding of current developments, challenges on the ground and opportunities for the future at the interface of integrated water management and urban planning in secondary and tertiary cities of SEA, with a focus on our partner cities Sam Neua (Laos), Sleman (Indonesia) and Kratie (Cambodia). Travels, conferences, research activities and reports, various meetings and countless Zoom sessions have guided the complex process.

As an outcome, we have strengthened our bonds within and beyond the consortium. Jointly, we have been able to produce highly valuable insights on the realities of secondary and tertiary cities in SEA and put together a successful concept for the continuation of our process over the upcoming four years.

The new phase of PolyUrbanWaters will start in April 2021 and focus on the identification and scoping of realistic options for water-sensitive development in and beyond our partner cities. At the core of our activities is the co-development of transferable tools and methods for water-sensitive urban development from geophysical, social-ecological, participatory and governance angles. A continuous science-policy dialogue is guiding the process and all activities are supported by capacity building across scales.

Even though the current global pandemic challenges us to adapt certain plans, we are certain that the next phase will be a successful process. With great excitement, we are looking forward to the next steps and further collaboration with our partners!

PolyUrbanWaters student project: Plan for a Yogyakarta water and river park by Philipp Waters

Master plan for Yogyakarta water and river park
© Philipp Winter (click to enlarge)

PolyUrbanWaters student project: Living with Water: Redesigning a schoolyard by Johanna Westermann

Living with Water: Proposal for redesigning a schoolyard © Johanna Westermann (click to enlarge)

20 September 2020

Student contributions: Approaching our research topic from a student perspective

Guided by the PolyUrbanWaters research project, several students from TU Berlin and TH Köln looked into polycentric approaches to urban water management during the summer semester 2020. Coming from a variety of academic backgrounds, they approached the topic in different ways.

In his master thesis, Philipp Winter aims to reconnect a human habitat with its surroundings through the lens of water resilience and urbanization, using the case of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Philipp chose to approach the topic from a systemic perspective and builds on the analysis to develop a design concept for the river system as well as a more detailed design proposal for the town of Sariharjo. The design aims at increasing water resilience while ensuring sustainable urban growth.

Laura Dissel, Stefanie Knaus, Laila Wendel, Jessvith Nathaly Loayza Aylas and Quirin Luppa analyzed the potential of nature-based solutions and ecosystem services for the city of Sam Neua. They created a compendium of water-related nature-based solutions and identified existing solutions in Sam Neua. The functionality of these existing solutions was then evaluated in a rapid assessment.

Kratié in Cambodia is regularly affected by riverine flood events, and the dynamics of seasonal floodplains define the area. Frederic Hebbeker, Isabelle Knauf, Ololade Shokan and Uzabi Baidar developed a flood risk map to better understand these dynamics and their effects. The overall aim of their research was to analyze existing flood risks for the city of Kratié in relation to significant urbanization trends and to develop strategic options to increase flood resilience.

In their project ‘Living with Water’, Matthew Dalrymple and Johanna Westermann examined the role of water as a vital resource and key asset in the development of sustainable cities. The project examines the extent to which water can be understood as a catalyst for sustainable transformation processes that ultimately achieve global sustainability goals. ‘Living with Water’ is based on the assumption that urban planning and governance need to take a proactive yet flexible and adaptable approach to water resource management.

The governance of urban sanitation is strongly interlinked with water-sensitive development. In the framework of his master thesis, Yann Dondo uses the OECD Water Governance Indicator Framework to assess the performance of SDG 6.2 for Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia. His work evaluates the status of sanitation governance in the three countries, aims to understand the role of governance in achieving SDG 6, and points out the gaps between governance frameworks and practice. The thesis also explores options for regional knowledge sharing.

For more information about these projects, please contact us.

PolyUrbanWaters Kratié presentation on 2020.07.09 (Khmer language)

9 July 2020

Kratié: Presenting research outcomes & follow-up concept

On Thursday 9 July, the PolyUrbanWaters team organized a video conference with representatives of our partner city Kratié. The project team presented the outcomes of the current project phase and introduced the proposed concept for the next phase. The concept for the upcoming phase focusses on a water-sensitive urban development approach that addresses the increasing water quality pressures and vulnerability to flooding in Kratié. The concept aims to include stakeholders across scales to strengthen local capacities and to co-develop a “Living with Water” approach for the city.

The interdisciplinary group of city representatives expressed their interest in the presented concept and in a fruitful cooperation for the next project phase. The proposed concept was appreciated and the necessity for the development of new, water-sensitive urban development approach, which has the potential to be integrated in long-term planning documents, was understood and requested.

> Presentation in Khmer language (PDF, 2MB)
> Presentation in English (PDF, 2MB)

PolyUrbanWaters Sam Neua presentation on 2020.06.23

23 June 2020

Sam Neua: Presenting research outcomes & follow-up concept

On Tuesday 23 June, the PolyUrbanWaters team organized a video conference with representatives of our partner city Sam Neua. The project team presented the outcomes of the current project phase and introduced the proposed concept for the next phase. The concept for the upcoming project phase builds on the insights that the team gained through site visits, desk research, and a continuous communication process with the partner city. The concept is a water-sensitive urban development approach that addresses the expected pressures on water quantity in the fast-developing Sam Neua. The concept includes a holistic capacity building program that aims to strengthen local stakeholders across scales to create a green, clean, peaceful and resilient Sam Neua.

Through an active virtual communication, the city representatives expressed their interest in the presented concept and in cooperation with the project team for the next project phase. The proposed concept was appreciated and the necessity for the development of new, water-sensitive urban development approach, which has the potential to be integrated in long-term planning documents, was understood and requested.

> Presentation in English (PDF, 2MB)

PolyUrbanWaters Sleman presentation on 2020.06.17 (Bahasa Indonesia language)

17 June 2020

Sleman: Presenting research outcomes & follow-up concept

On Wednesday 17 June, the PolyUrbanWaters team organized a video conference with representatives of our partner city Sleman. The project team presented the research outcomes of the current project phase and introduced the proposed concept for the next phase. The presented concept focuses on a water-sensitive urban development approach that addresses the increasing pressures on urban water quality and quantity in Sleman. Central to the approach is the aim to include stakeholders across scales to strengthen local capacities and to co-develop “Water Sensitive Communities in Sleman”.

Through an active virtual communication, the Sleman representatives expressed their interest in the proposed approach and in cooperation with the project team for the upcoming project phase. The concept was well appreciated and the necessity for the development of new, water-sensitive urban development approach, which has the potential to be integrated in long-term planning documents, was understood and requested.

> Presentation in Bahasa Indonesia language (PDF, 3MB)
> Presentation in English (PDF, 3MB)

Sam Neua, Laos

20 May 2020

From the City of Bremen to Sam Neua: Strategic Advice on Climate Change Adaptation Measures

The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen’s Ministry for Climate Protection, the Environment, Mobility, Urban and Housing Development has suggested several strategic considerations for the city of Sam Neua as it engages in climate change adaptation. These include:

Consider heat stress

  • Ensure ventilation – allow cool air flow at night to heated, densified areas.
  • Consider the advantage of shading – depending on the use of buildings and outdoor spaces, both sunny and shady open spaces should be provided.
  • Use natural evaporation for cooling – consider natural green structures that can store rainwater for a longer period of time and evaporate it slowly on hot days.

Consider heavy rainfall

  • Take precautionary measures in designing streets and open space.
  • Disconnect rainwater drainage from sewage systems.
  • Green roofs are an option in the case of flat roofs and statistical practicability.

Consider wind comfort and storm risk

  • Arrangement of buildings
  • Wind shading

Consider green infrastructure

  • Define priority areas for green and/or water infrastructure.
  • Set standards for the amount of green infrastructure.
  • Put more emphasis on city trees.
PolyUrbanWaters - CIUS study group on a site visit
PolyUrbanWaters - CIUS study workgroup

15 May 2020

CIUS Study: Identifying Essential Inputs for Water-Sensitive Urban Development in Cambodia

The Cambodian Institute for Urban Studies (CIUS) has elaborated a study that, among other things, identified parameters for water-sensitive urban development in secondary cities in Cambodia. A recommendation of the study is that PolyUrbanWaters address some of the cross-sectoral technical inputs identified as deficient. These include:

  • the absence of updateable geo-referenced localized flood maps (and a localized flood warning system);
  • the absence of a comprehensive geo-referenced municipal drainage plan (current situation and forward-looking for 10-20 years and associated municipal digital elevation map(s)), including comprehensive wastewater management strategies;
  • the absence of a municipal solid waste management plan to address the municipality’s growing challenges in dealing with solid waste;
  • the absence of updateable geo-referenced localized drought maps and a drought preparedness monitoring system;
  • the absence of updateable arsenic contamination maps of used groundwater sources and an effective monitoring system;
  • the need to support the development of and capacity to establish and maintain an integrated municipal water-sensitive geographical information system (GIS) based on open-source and cost-effective systems;
  • the absence of a comprehensive municipal disaster management plan outlining alert stages and a checklist for action including temporary options for residential and commercial activities and services provision;
  • the continued absence of a municipal land use master plan (a draft remains unapproved) and the implication of this for other aspects of water-sensitive urban issues; and
  • the absence of a costed and updateable urban infrastructure needs database.
Gadja Mada background study for PolyUrbanWaters: Presentation on water challenges in Sleman Regency
Gadja Mada background study on water-sensitive urban development in Sleman Regency

8 May 2020

Managing Water-Sensitive Urban Development: Hurdles and Benefits for Sleman

In a background study for the PolyUrbanWaters project, the Faculty of Urban and Regional Planning of Gadjah Mada University outlined the local government of Sleman’s strong interest in pursuing new ways to address water challenges. The Regency faces several hurdles in managing its massive urban transformation, including:

  • an existing urban planning and design approach that gives little attention to water-related issues;
  • a lack of knowledge and strategies in applying water-sensitive urban development;
  • weak coordination among government agencies dealing with urban development and water-related issues;
  • a lack of tools and methods for strategically responding to current and future urban challenges in a modern, water-sensitive and strategic manner; and
  • the inadequate capacity of village governance to strategically manage local resources and assets, including water.

The study also pointed out the potential benefits of the PolyUrbanWaters project for the management of water-sensitive urban development in Sleman. These include:

  • integrating water issues into urban planning and design strategies;
  • providing more effective and efficient collaborations between multiple sectors and other stakeholders, both horizontally and vertically;
  • integrating technical, social, economic and cultural parameters into the management approach;
  • offering innovative and appropriate tools and methods to anticipate and plan for current and future urban challenges in a modern, water-sensitive and strategic manner;
  • strategically linking research, knowledge and policy making; and
  • providing a real, exemplary model of water-sensitive development at the district/neighborhood level that can be replicated in other city districts/neighborhoods.
PolyUrbanWaters: Graphic showing development dynamics in Sleman and their impact on water resources

4 May 2020

Pressures & Reponses: Profiling the PolyUrbanWaters Approach in Sleman

PolyUrbanWaters project partners UGM, Kota Kita, ITT and TUB elaborated an analysis of the development dynamics in Sleman and their impacts on the environment, the economy and public welfare. The analysis used the DPSIR method, which looks at the interaction between human society and the environment, to identify ways to mitigate current and future pressure factors in order to elaborate situation-adequate response models.

On a rather aggregated level, the DPSIR method may help to create a common understanding between different stakeholders about water-related challenges. On a more disaggregated level, it may be used as an instrument to identify strategic elements for water-sensitive urban development and to establish a system for monitoring the extent to which the actions undertaken generate the expected results.

Polycentric approach to management of urban waters in Sam Neua: Vision & planning for a water-sensitive future

22 April 2020

In Sam Neua, Putting the City’s Vision into Water-Sensitive Practice

PolyUrbanWaters has begun supporting the city administration of Sam Neua in translating their vision of a “peaceful, clean and green Sam Neua” into the context of water-sensitive urban development. This support is intended to initiate and consolidate a strategic process of communication and negotiation on a horizontal (urban) and vertical (city/province/government) level in order to develop integrated urban development and infrastructure concepts for the city as a whole or for selected neighborhoods.

VAWR study: Data collection at the Department of Construction in Vinh Phuc province

15 April 2020

VAWR Study on Localizing SDGs in Vietnam: Opportunities and Barriers

PolyUrbanWaters partner VAWR has arrived at main findings from its study on the localization and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Vietnam in the context of a polycentric approach to urban water management.

In Vietnam, the localization of SDGs with regard to a clean water supply for urban areas is quite successful. But there are major obstacles to establishing effective wastewater collection and treatment schemes. Unlike water supply schemes that may be financed by existing water tariffs and therefore are favorable to investments from public private partnerships, reliable financing structures for wastewater management still have to be developed on the local level.

Concepts such as water-sensitive cities may interlink the SDGs with their multidimensionality and help to localize other key international commitments such as the Paris agreement on climate change. But implementation will highly depend on financing schemes that attract investments from the private sector not only in wastewater management but in overall urban development.

Nevertheless, there is in Vietnam an ongoing discussion and decision-making process on how the overall institutional setup should be shaped to ensure high-quality delivery of water-related public services, and what role the public and private sector should play.

AIT site visit

20 March 2020

AIT Study: Developing a Market for Polycentric Wastewater Treatment Solutions

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, has finalized its study on the drivers of market development for polycentric wastewater treatment solutions in Thailand. It identifies key challenges and indicates associated policy recommendations.

Selected policy recommendations:

  • Need to implement advocacy campaigns, develop citywide sanitation planning, prioritize the areas for DEWATs, centralized and mixed systems along with the GIS-based sanitation map and train local government agencies (LGAs) for better sectorial performance.
  • Enforcement and monitoring have been the major issue as the LGAs lack capacity; therefore, they need to tie up with NGOs and/or civil society organizations and/or academic institutions. Encourage local government to develop local ordinances and enforce them in line with ministerial regulations while developing the guidelines.
  • Local authorities to design the treatment system and effluent standard considering water quality, water usage and ecosystem, as well as the influent water quality.
  • Consider developing policies targeting utility reform in the sanitation sector; the sector would benefit most if the government unit/utility or private organization provides integrated services including water supply, wastewater, fecal sludge management and solid waste management.
  • Government should implement and frequently revise the wastewater tariff through regular advocacy and willingness to pay surveys.
  • Implement public-private partnerships (PPP) while creating the enabling environment for private sector involvement.
  • Mandate the Thailand Industrial Standard Institute’s standards on DEWATs performance to ensure healthy market competition as well as product quality. To implement the standard, government shall collaborate with academic and research institutions for testing and certification of the product.
World Urban Forum 10: PolyUrbanWaters workshop
World Urban Forum 10: PolyUrbanWaters presentation
World Urban Forum 10: PolyUrbanWaters partners

8–13 February 2020

World Urban Forum (WUF 10): Cities as Opportunities—Connecting Culture and Innovation

Representatives of the PolyUrbanWaters network from Cambodia, Germany, Indonesia and Laos attended the 10th World Urban Forum held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. During a workshop for project partners, participants discussed the major findings that have emerged thus far from the project definition phase. Partners from Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia confirmed the relevance of the PolyUrbanWaters approach for the development of water-sensitive cities in the context of rapid urbanization in Southeast Asia.

Our experience at WUF 10 underlined that a core principle of PolyUrbanWaters—addressing “water in the city” as a holistic concept for intersectoral cooperation between stakeholders in partner cities (horizontal level) and national government bodies (vertical level)—can be a valid contribution to localizing the SDGs and translating the New Urban Agenda into partner city realities.

The coming months will see a further specification of locally tailored PolyUrbanWaters approaches in partner cities. These are:

  • Sleman: Water-sensitive community development
  • Sam Neua: Water for the future—proactive planning for water-sensitive urban development
  • Kratié: Living with water = Water-resilient urban development

January 2020

Sleman study results: Community-based organizations play a significant role in improving water management

PolyUrbanWaters partner AKSANSI, a Yogyakarta-based NGO, conducted a study on the institutional change dynamics of local/provincial government structures and the potential of co-production between households/local governments and the private sector for water-related basic needs in Sleman, Yogyakarta. The study analyzed the results and performance of 300 community-based water supply and wastewater management schemes in peri-urban and rural areas of Sleman Regency.

The main outcome of the study showed the significance of such entities in improving both the quantity and the quality of the local water supply. At the same time it is also clear that a process of institutionalization and professionalization is needed where water operators play a crucial role in the provision of water-related basic services. New mechanisms of co-production between water operators, community-based organizations and households will need to be developed and implemented in accordance with local capacities.

21 December 2019

Developing a Market for Polycentric Wastewater Treatment Solutions: First Findings from AIT Study

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, has begun conducting a study on the drivers of market development for polycentric wastewater treatment solutions in Thailand. The aim is to foster a comprehensive understanding of how an enabling regulatory environment can support substantial engagement of the private sector, even in less wealthy neighborhoods. First findings show that innovative incentive schemes are crucial for overcoming deficiencies in public structures and for mobilizing private-sector engagement to establish a water-sensitive infrastructure that contributes to inclusiveness in Thai society.

15 December 2019

Localizing National SDG Policy in Cambodia: CIUS Study to Lay Groundwork for Pilot Activities

The Cambodian Institute of Urban Studies (CIUS) has begun elaborating a study to explore the evolving context of national SDG policy in Cambodia in water/urban development and the challenges of breaking these down at the local level. The study encompasses governance structures, mandates and financial schemes as well as the capacities of public structures, the private sector and civil society. Existing policies, tools and potential instruments for establishing water-sensitive infrastructure will be identified. The study is meant to situate upcoming PolyUrbanWaters pilot activities in Kratie within a national context.

Vietnam Academy of Water - PolyUrbanWaters study group

4 December 2019

Water-Sensitive Cities in Vietnam: Assessing Opportunities & Constraints

As a PolyUrbanWaters project partner, the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) has begun conducting an assessment of the opportunities and constraints that local government structures face in supporting the development of water-sensitive cities. In addition to identifying entry points for the localization of SDGs in the urban water sector, the study will contribute to the specification of the “Polycentric approaches to the management of urban waters” concept in Vietnam.

Southeast Asia: Climate Change Vulnerability (2019)
Southeast Asia: Climate Change Adaptive Capacity Index (2019)

November–December 2019

Adapting to Climate Change: Strategic Support for PolyUrbanWaters Pilot Cities from the City of Bremen

The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen’s Ministry for Climate Protection, the Environment, Mobility, Urban and Housing Development is supporting PolyUrbanWaters by sharing its experience with the formulation and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies. A first profiling was done to contextualize the situation Kratié, Cambodia and Sam Neua, Laos with respect to the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 and the Lao PDR’s Strategy on Climate Change (2010).

Key recommendations for the research and development phase of the PolyUrbanWaters project are intended to support processes in the pilot cities under the rubric of:

  • Kratié: Flood resilient and clean city on the Mekong River
  • Planning for a Sustainable Future in Sam Neua
Sleman, Indonesia

15 November 2019

Contextual Studies in Sleman, Indonesia: Defining the Importance of Water

During the second PolyUrbanWaters mission in Sleman, project partners from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Kota Kita, TU Berlin and TH Köln carryied out contextual studies in Sleman’s urban and peri-urban areas. The focus was on defining the importance of water in a city along with its challenges and understanding in the community.

Sam Neua, Laos

11 November 2019

Second Mission in Sam Neua, Laos: Assessing the Complexities of a Green City Vision

During the second PolyUrbanWaters mission in Sam Neua, project partners from TH Köln, BORDA and the City of Bremen participated in constructive brainstorming sessions with local decision makers and visited potential sites for PolyUrbanWaters implementation. The focus of the project team was to assess the complex interconnections between the green city vision of Sam Neua and the expected socio-economic, environmental and climatic changes in the region.

Kratié, Cambodia

7 November 2019

Scoping Workshops and Studies in Kratie, Cambodia

During kick-off workshops in Kratie, the PolyUrbanWaters team together with partner consortia and local stakeholders conducted contextual studies and defined potential local sites for implementation of polycentric approaches to urban water management. The aim: localizing multifunctional, livable public spaces, with their characteristic and various challenges in urban transformation.

PolyUrbanWaters visit to Kratie, Cambodia

29 October 2019

Assessment in Kratié (Cambodia) and Second Mission to Sam Neua (Laos) and Sleman (Indonesia)

In the November–December 2019 mission, the PolyUrbanWaters team will visit project sites in each city to conduct scoping workshops and contextual studies, with the aim of defining partner consortia and local sites for implementation of polycentric approaches to urban water management. Particular points for discussion and evaluation will be the topic of water in the city and options for each city to become water-sensitive and climate change-resilient. The field work will serve to define key transformation challenges that are relevant for the development of fast-growing, peri-urban areas, highlighting possible synergies and co-benefits between water and urban development issues. In addition, the project team will conduct stakeholder and process analyses to identify the main actors (including local communities) for involvement in the project implementation.

PolyUrbanWaters at launch of Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization

19 October 2019

Launch of Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization

Following the agreements made at the coordination meeting with UNESCAP in September 2019, PolyUrbanWaters contributed to the launch of the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization. The aim is to integrate “water” much more in inter-sectorial city planning than is currently the practice, with the development and implementation of innovative instruments for financing water-sensitive cities as a key element in the transformation to sustainable urban areas.

September 2019

Hamburg Wasser Study: Supporting a Better Understanding of Impacts in Water-Related Development

Hamburg Wasser, one of the largest water utilities in Germany, undertook a study on how SDG-orientated planning may support water-sensitive urban development. The findings show that SDG-orientated urban planning may create disclosure on strategic elements of urban development. A respective analysis may give decision makers a better understanding of the impacts of water-related infrastructure development in its multidimensionality (health, eco-systems, livability in cities, etc.). It may open the perspective of city managers from a purely output driven decision making towards a more impact driven decision making that invites affected or concerned departments to participate in the process.

All SDG-orientated decision making or tool development should take into account possibilities and basic conditions for pricing and budgeting in the municipalities. To be assessed is the extent to which intersectoral collaboration in a specific city creates incentives for relevant stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.

PoluUrbanWaters launch in Sam Neua, Laos

15 September 2019

Kick-Off of PolyUrbanWaters in Vientiane and Sam Neua, Laos

PolyUrbanWaters was launched in Laos from 9-13 September 2019. The Laos Department of Housing and Urban Planning underlined the need to spur new approaches to ensure effective provision of water-related public services and to support water-sensitive urban development in Laos’ small and medium-sized towns. The province and city administrations welcomed PolyUrbanWaters for its translation of the “Green, clean, beautiful and peaceful Sam Neua” policy in the area of managing urban waters. Visits to sites such as the new urban development area, the drinking water reservoirs, the municipal waste landfill and pilot sites for community based sanitation contributed to a first rapid assessment of water-related challenges in Sam Neua.

PolyUrbanWaters coordination meeting with UNESCAP

9 September 2019

Coordination Meeting with United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

At a meeting in Bangkok at 6 September 2019, UNESCAP and a delegation from PolyUrbanWaters identified fields of cooperation. It was agreed that PolyUrbanWater will support the implementation of the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization by continuously feeding project-developed tools (integrated urban planning, water sensitive urban development, financial tools) into this regional process and by facilitating the exchange of good practices between cities.

PolyUrbanWaters project kick-off in Sleman, Indonesia
PolyUrbanWaters site visit in Sleman, Indonesia: DEWATS in residential area

5 September 2019

Kick-Off of PolyUrbanWaters in Sleman, Indonesia

The PolyUrbanWaters Project officially started with kick-off workshop and visits in Sleman, Indonesia from 2-4 September 2019. Project partners, local municipalities and communities were involved in several working sessions, presentations, introductions and networking events. As part of the numerous activities in Sleman Regency, the project team conducted a wide range of field visits. These include the Kalibuntung riverside area in the Karangwaru district of Yogyakarta City, the IPA Gamping clean water treatment plant, the community-based drinking water provider PAMDES Tirtomakmur Kadirojo, the Embung Tambakboyo water retention basin, the IPLT Tinjon Madurejo sludge treatment plant, and the community-based water management organization OPA (Organisasi Pengelola Air) Tirtomulyo. Exchanges with representatives of the local government and the introduction of the PolyUrbanWaters project were the main focus of the workshop.

PolyUrbanWaters at World Urban Forum 9
PolyUrbanWaters at World Urban Forum 9: Workshop on polycentric approaches to localizing the SDGs

February 2018

PolyUrbanWaters at World Urban Forum 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

At WUF 9, held 8-17 February 2018, the outcome of the PolyUrbanWaters definition phase was discussed during a workshop and presented at two side events: one as part of the official program and one at the Federal Government of Germany’s booth. In the workshop, a first approach on strategic SDG planning was organized with the cities of Bac Ninh (Vietnam), Kratié (Cambodia), Leh (India), Sleman (Indonesia) and South Tangerang (Indonesia). In the participating cities and districts, water management issues are of central importance and reflect location-specific challenges. The dynamics of urban development make supply gaps and overuse of natural resources increasingly clear. Pollution of groundwater bodies is accompanied by problems such as increasing vulnerability to heavy rainfall events brought about by climate change. WUF 9 workshop participants agreed that water is a key to creating livable and inclusive cities. Polycentric approaches for the management of urban waters may contribute to an overall change of mindset in decision making that supports the localization of the SDGs.