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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 impacts of climate change tend to disproportionately 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 can lead to maladaptation in the long run. 

  • Based on our systematic literature review, the motivation for the use of nature-based solutions in the context of informal settlements varies depending on the project, and might include producing food, generating cultural benefits and addressing climate resilience. The key drivers for the use of NbS are deeply intertwined with socio-ecological systems and existing everyday challenges.​

  • By collaborating with international partners in both academia and government (e.g. Thammasat University and CODI in Thailand), we are providing insights into how nature-based solutions can work in synergy with housing policy. In doing so, we are exploring the potential of NbS for building climate resilience in the context of informal settlement upgrading.

 Project leads: Erich Wolff

Research questions and goals

Based on the findings of our systematic literature review, we aim to answer the following questions:

  • What are the main reasons that lead communities to want NbS in housing projects?

  • How do decision-makers (Government officers, academics, infrastructure managers) perceive nature in the city and its value?

  • What evidence is necessary and how can we evaluate and monitor the benefits of NbS in housing projects?


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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