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 Nature Based Solutions in informal settlements in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands

Climate change has affected cities around the world in unprecedented ways in that it alters the ways of living of city inhabitants in coping with contemporary urban challenges and climate risks. The disproportionate impacts of climate change tend to affect communities living in informal settlements. These sites are often built in hazardous locations and suffer from infrastructure deficit due to due to fragmented governance.

Over-reliance on grey infrastructure over nature-based solutions (NbS) will only exacerbate existing risks and it is unsustainable in the long run. 

  • Based on our systematic literature review, the primary motivation for the use of nature-based solutions in the context of informal settlements is not for addressing climate resilience. The key drivers for the use of NbS is deeply intertwined with socio-ecological systems and existing everyday challenges.​

  • By considering the local needs and challenging environment that informal dwellers are exposed to, we seek to address this gap by exploring the potentiality of NbS for building climate resilience in the context of informal settlement upgrading.

 Project leads: Hanna A. Rauf and Erich Wolff

Research questions and goals

​​Using the conceptual triad of climate resilience, informal settlement upgrading and green infrastructure as an entry point, we aim to:

  • Examine how many informal settlements upgradings in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands have incorporated nature-based solutions as part of the projects.

  • Analyse the types of nature-based solutions that are appropriate for informal settlements -including the ecosystem services and disservices

  • De-construct the role of climate governance and public participation for building climate resilience in informal settlements 


Source: (Rauf, 2021)


Call for Collaborators: 

We are looking for collaborators who are working on the topic of informal settlement upgrading in the context of Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. We are looking forward to co-design urban intervention with various stakeholders - community-led organisations, NGOs,academic institutions, researchers and government agencies. 

  • Participatory action research for monitoring and evaluation project on nature-based solutions in informal settlements 

  • Academic publication

  • Developing teaching module

  • Capacity building and training on assessing ecosystem services and disservices 

Publications :

  • Wolff E., Rauf H.A., Hamel P. (2023) Nature-based solutions in informal settlements: A systematic review of projects in Southeast Asian and Pacific countries. Environmental Science and Policy, 145, p.275-285.

  • Wolff, E., Rauf, H.A, Diep, L., Natakun, B., Kelly, K. and Hamel, P., (2022). Implementing participatory nature-based solutions in the Global South. Frontiers in Sustainable Cities, 4. doi:10.3389/frsc.2022.95653 

  • Wolff E., Rauf H.A., Hamel P. (2021) Climate Resilience in Informal Settlements: The Role of Natural Infrastructure. In: Brears R. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Futures. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Figure : The relationship between participatory approaches and project visions for the implementation of NbS in the context of informal settlements. Source : Wolff et al. (2022)

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