Java, Indonesia, 06 Mar 2015

Enhancing coastal safety in Indonesia

The Indonesian and Dutch government have launched a five-year public-private partnership initiative for enhancing coastal safety at the North Coast of Java. The initiative aims to build stable coastlines with reduced erosion risk through a unique integration of mangrove restoration, small scale hard-engineering, and sustainable land use. UNESCO-IHE contributes by means of training and awareness raising activities.

Northern Java’s deltaic shorelines suffer from severe erosion, which affects coastal safety and hampers economic development and livelihood security, putting more than 40 million people at risk. The impacts of erosion are substantial. Houses, roads and valuable land are literally swept into the sea.

In order to address this problem, coastal managers turned to conventional “hard” engineered structures – such as dams and sea walls. However, such structures are often expensive and inflexible. Moreover, hard structures have proven to be ineffective along mud-coasts and often even exacerbate erosion.

In order to stop the destructive erosion process and to regain a safe and prosperous coastline in Northern Java a ‘Building with Nature’ approach is needed: one of the Dutch water sector’s major innovations. Building with Nature seeks to work with nature rather than against it. Building with Nature solutions combine engineering knowledge and techniques with natural processes and resources (hybrid engineering), resulting in dynamic water safety solutions that are better able to adapt to changing circumstances.

Key to the success of Building with Nature solutions is the inclusive multi-stakeholder approach and the introduction of sustainable multifunctional land uses that enable economic growth. UNESCO-IHE's contribution will lie in the area of training local partners on technical aspects such as modelling techniques as well as awareness raising on the problems the area faces. Secondly, UNESCO-IHE will assist the Indonesian government with the development of coastal zone management plans for the stakeholders involved.

UNESCO-IHE works closely with Deltares on this project as part of a consortium consisting of consultancy agency Witteveen+Bos, Wageningen University, Wetlands International, dredging companies Boskalis and Van Oord, the University of Semarang and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and fisheries (MMAF) with the Indonesian government. The initiative is financed by the Dutch Sustainable Water Fund and was announced by the Ecoshape foundation.

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