Due to the Covid-19 situation, the annual Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is postponed to June 2021 and for the time being is held digitally through a series of webinars. This first webinar about Urban Coastal Resilience was held on Monday, 6 July 2020 with experts from the Netherlands and Singapore discussing what resilience means.

Two most common factors in coastal resilience are climate change and rising sea level. As the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei, Margriet Vonno said during the opening, people have to be very resilient with climate change and the rising sea level, to find the sustainable solutions for long and short terms.


Urban Coastal Resilience from Economic and Community Perspective

In his presentation, Piet Dircke from Arcadis took a perspective of Urban Coastal Resilience from economic and community perspective. He mentioned the importance of interactive stakeholder engagement, where community opinions were encouraged on the design process so the design could answer the needs of people and could boost the economy. 

Multi-functionality in the coastal protection design, he added, was important for the optimal use of space, for example, the dunes as coastal protection structure was built with a boulevard on top for pedestrian and local businesses, which later could be useful for both public facility and also flood-protection while at the same time could generate revenue and help local businesses to create value.


Urban Coastal Resilience from Technical and Ecosystem Perspective

Another presentation was brought by Laura Vonhögen-Peeters from NUSDeltares where she elaborated Urban Coastal Resilience from technical and ecosystem perspective. She explained urban coastal climate resilience as the society's capability to cope with climate change and sea-level rise. She also listed the physical challenges a city could face, namely flood, drought, water quality, and urban heat effect. 

The key challenge, she said, lied on the deep uncertainty which led to stakeholders did not know the problems thus they failed to address the problems and to tackle this by looking from the various perspective for multifunctional measures and solutions. 

She then explained further on starting the action by using data and models to assess the situation then do adaptation based on the results, preferably implementing the soft and more nature-friendly solutions to achieve a sustainable and resilient environment. Laura then concluded her presentation in three points: anticipate disasters, acknowledge the uncertainty, and connect the plans (short and long terms).


The following Q&A session was moderated by Tim Risbridger from Arcadis and joined by Hazel Khoo from PUB (Singapore's National Water Agency), Roelof Kruize from Waternet, and Edgar Westerhof from Arcadis. During this session, the discussion on resilient continued and was summarized as below:

  • The emphasis of a systematic approach in water management as well as coastal management
  • Coastal protection needs to be done progressively, this includes deeper studies on coastal
  • Urban community benefits can be achieved by connecting stakeholders, connecting their needs, and bringing ecological benefits to them
  • The use of big data (hydrometeorological data) for models and simulations is important to data-driven and science-based outcomes
  • Learn to adapt and to anticipate, plan carefully and plan it to be sustainable
  • Public awareness is important, as well as technological advances and innovation in making us more resilient.

Written by Carrina Lim (The Water Agency Indonesia)