The WaL program is built on the idea that the program can constitute an “enabling environment” for multidisciplinary design teams to identify local challenges and co-design resilience solutions with local stakeholders. This is referred to as a “soft space” to design, develop, and implement climate solutions for local partners and stakeholders. Our analysis revealed three main processes that occurred within this soft space and can be seen as geared towards building different elements of institutional capital: (i) research and analysis of the local context (design-based research), (ii) co-creation and collaboration for design strategic climate solutions, and (iii) proposal development for finance and implementation. In Table 2
, we outline some key activities that the WaL program has undertaken in relation to the build-up of intellectual capital, social capital, and political capital. We then present a more detailed analysis of how these key activities were perceived and translated into institutional capacity building in practice at the city level in Semarang.
4.1. Intellectual Capital
The WaL program created opportunities for the involved multidisciplinary design teams to co-create water and climate solutions with local stakeholders in Semarang [48
]. With respect to knowledge integration
, the program launched a “Call for Action” for designers around the world to participate in a climate resilience design competition. The selected multidisciplinary design teams in Semarang, One Semarang and Cascading Semarang, included team members from a wide range of fields such as engineering, spatial design, urban planning, urban design, hydrology, and ecology [49
]. The design teams were tasked with conducting design-based research, for which each team had to produce an in-depth research and analysis report in which they outlined interconnected environmental and urban risks, connected different flood risk management initiatives, and identified potential flood and climate resilience solutions for Semarang [50
]. Both teams conducted the research and analysis to identify existing water and climate challenges and to explore potential holistic and integrated water and climate solutions for the city [50
]. As a team member from One Semarang explained: “If all of the five proposals were implemented simultaneously, I think the impact on the city would be good in the sense that it’s comprehensive and holistic.” Initially, the two design teams worked separately on the design-based research and each performed their community engagement and focus-group discussions. However, over time, the two teams decided that it worked best to integrate their proposed resilience solutions and collaborations with local stakeholders. In the end, the two teams also jointly presented their city’s flood and climate solutions. The design teams thus combined their solutions into six strategic water climate resilience proposals, which were presented as a coherent programmatic approach for improving Semarang’s flood and climate resilience [49
]. This integrated approach and the related six strategic proposals are outlined in Table 2
, and present a combination of spatial adaptation measures, ecological and nature-based solutions, canal revitalization, and community flood preparedness.
With regard to local knowledge
, the program organized several rounds of discussions during a local workshop in 2018. These discussions were meant to integrate Semarang’s experience of previous resilience programs (such as ACCCRN and the 100RC program) with Water as Leverage. Program documents also emphasized the need for the integration of a broad range of knowledge, expertise, and the consideration of local insights, perspectives, and experience in order to deliver climate resilience proposals (see Table 3
). However, at the same time, the program was perhaps too instrumental in its approach to doing so. Local stakeholders, such as the Partnership for Resilience (PFR), NGOs working on climate change and ecosystem management, and restoration programs that are supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, felt there was still room to strengthen the integration of local insights especially regarding the inclusion of context-specific knowledge of local NGOs into the design of the resilience solutions. As the resources mobilization director of the Indonesia Science fund, who coordinated WaL activities with the local government, argued:
From my observation, I guess this involvement of this PFR (Partnership for Resilience) is not as much as it should be, but again I understand. Because initially the focus was mostly on the technical aspects and only thereafter on the design perspective.
The co-creation of strategic climate solutions has also stimulated both single-loop and double-loop learning processes among local partners and stakeholders. In relation to single-loop learning, the formulation of the six strategic climate resilience proposals was built from existing initiatives and ongoing projects, such as community-based risk management, with an attempt to improve, modify, and integrate these with other flood adaptation solutions. A local team member from One Semarang mentioned a particular initiative from the proposals:
One of our concepts is ‘Networks of Resilient Kampungs’ that is working for the community on the ground. It involves the modification of existing initiatives [the village level Disaster Preparedness Group (KSB)]. I mean it is good to work with them to learn from previous experiences and what can be modified and improved.
With regard to double-loop learning,
the designed climate resilience solutions required the city’s water planning and flood risk management approach to change focus from mainly “keeping the city dry” to “tapping into the water abundance and its possibilities” [49
]. Against this backdrop, the Cascading Semarang team proposed effective storing and utilizing water resources to prevent groundwater usage in order to reduce urban flooding risks from land-subsidence. The corresponding strategic climate resilience proposals combine different flood adaptation measures to also instigate policy change in Semarang’s planning and water management agencies. Learning and exchanging ideas on flood adaptation solutions were central in this learning process [50
]. As Semarang’s chief resilience technical coordinator of the city’s resilience team stated: “We cannot rely on the government budget to solve all the water problems. From Water as Leverage, we learned how to innovate by expanding our work with international partners and international donors.” In this context, Semarang’s chief resilience officer, also part of the city’s resilience team, referred to the “Feeding the industry” concept:
We learned a lot from the Water as Leverage process on how to retain the water. The other [strategic climate resilience proposal] concept was ‘Feeding industries’. They [the design teams] have that concept to make the water resource allocation to industries. Just like that, we can learn from international experts.
The challenge now is to keep the continuation of research and analysis for the design of climate solutions in the local planning process.
4.2. Social Capital
To enable the co-creation of climate solutions, the program organized several local workshops and design workshops in Semarang [48
]. In parallel, the design teams also conducted smaller stakeholder consultation activities, such as focus-group discussions and informal meetings with local communities. These activities are not only related to building intellectual capital, as discussed above, but also to building social capital at the local level. In relation to inclusiveness
, the WaL local workshops and design workshops were organized to ensure that the design teams engaged with local stakeholders and partners at the city level for thinking along with the key challenges and priorities in the design process (see Figure 2
). As a team member from One Semarang stated: “The process is trying to get everyone aligned with the same vision…. It just needs some effort to organize this process [of local engagement and collaboration] on the ground [bottom-up process]”. However, there are some challenges in the inclusive collaboration process during the design of the adaptation strategies. For instance, a local team member who supported the community engagement of Cascading Semarang argued that local communities were more than interested in the concrete outcomes of projects but at the same time were less willing to engage or give input in the conceptual design process. The design teams experienced that the community members, who participated in the focus-group discussions, were reluctant to participate in the process since they were uncertain whether and how the project would be implemented. In addition, it was perceived as more challenging for local NGOs with limited resources to invest in the design contest. A local knowledge partner asserted that the program could have involved more local NGOs in the process: “They (the WaL program) needed to invite a wider range of participants, not only from the government but also from local NGOs. Semarang has a lot of NGOs and environmental NGOs. They have a lot of experience”. The involvement of more local NGOs could have been rather valuable for inclusive collaboration and the embeddedness of the program in the local context.
With regard to shared values, the WaL program promoted holistic flood adaptation measures and social outcomes for the design and implementation of the climate resilience program. The program emphasized the holistic and social dimensions in the “Water as Leverage Guidelines” for the selection and evaluation of the proposals from the design teams. A team member from “Cascading Semarang” stressed the social components in the proposed solutions as follows: “We took these by heart and I think that’s why we now have the [strategic climate resilience proposals]”. The shared values are also illustrated in the design of the strategic climate resilience solutions and the communication with the local governmental agencies and NGOs during the local workshops.
In relation to network integration, the WaL program connected the multidisciplinary design teams with a network of NGOs such as Partnership for Resilience (PFR). In this context, a coordinator of PFR in Indonesia said: “We are connected to the Global Team in The Netherlands and we agreed to be a knowledge partner in the Water as Leverage [program]”. Accordingly, representatives from the PFR participated in the local workshops and design workshops to give their input to the design teams especially regarding the alignment of the design of the solutions with existing water and flood resilience programs. The city (city government, city’s resilience team, and local NGOs) itself was also open to collaboration with new partners from other cities or countries. As a local knowledge partner from Bintari Foundation (the Indonesia Association for Sustainable Development), a Semarang-based NGO, said: “Semarang is famous. I heard that the innovation of Semarang is [that the city is] open and open-minded and that they (the local government and NGOs) are also very open for collaboration”. Based on their experience with international collaborations for flood and climate resilience, Semarang thus built extensive social capital to organize knowledge exchange and for international collaboration. The program was able to capitalize and further contribute to this capital by connecting local stakeholders with several international experts such as urban designers and landscape architects. However, the limited timeframe of the program constrained the community engagement process and in-depth consultation with local NGOs. The limited presence of the Semarang-based NGOs and the fact that the members of the teams were not based in the city were perceived as challenges to the local engagement process.
4.3. Political Capital
The building of political capital at the local level is important for the WaL program and for the design teams to bring the strategic climate resilience proposals to implementation. This involves communication and coordination at the local, national, and international levels. The co-creation of the strategic climate resilience proposals and engagement with key local government agencies promoted local ownership of the solutions. The initial set-up of the WaL program and the arrangement of its activities were executed by the close coordination between the RVO, the Semarang Planning Agency, and local partners, especially the city’s resilience team. The co-creation of climate solutions promoted a local translation of the resilience concept and integrated resilience design into the city’s planning process. As the research and development department head of Semarang’s Planning Agency explained: “[Firstly,] we need to interpret the [resilience] concept and then we discuss. This is what we need to discuss and revise this part and then so on. This is a two-way [communication] process”.
In relation to resource mobilization, the WaL program involved international financial organizations, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, in the initial set-up of the program, the local workshop (during 2018–2019), regional workshops and the Singapore workshop (in 2019) to develop the conceptual design for financing and implementation. As a local knowledge partner of the WaL program stated:
The purpose [the meetings with the international financial institutions] is to approach and get input from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and others. … This is to make a proposal really bankable and submittable to financial institutions. There are a good chance and sufficient support to ensure that we can convince these financial institutions to finance this project.
Although the program was designed to involve the financial institutions at an early stage and during the regional workshops, the Semarang chief resilience technical coordinator of the city’s resilience team indicated that the active involvement of international financial organizations in the design process and proposal development was limited. Nevertheless, at the time of writing, there are possibilities that the proposals may receive funding from Dutch government programs, such as Develop2Build, the World Bank program and the National Urban Development Project [52
Regarding policy alignment, the WaL program utilized the bilateral agreement on water cooperation between The Netherlands and Indonesia, namely the “Memorandum of understanding (MOU) Water Indonesia-The Netherlands.” As the Dutch government representative for the bilateral water cooperation stated at the beginning of the program: “Let’s try to bring Water as Leverage under the MOU because only then I can coordinate properly. In the meantime, all the (existing) projects that are in Semarang or around Semarang have some overlap or are complementary”. The knowledge partner from the Indonesia Science fund mentioned how the program organized workshops with governmental agencies that looked at ways to embed the strategic proposals in the policy plans: “They have been [trying to] tied up with the program that’s already designed, or that’s already decided, that’s already been planned before. So, we have to make sure that this is not just another burden for the government”. A team member from One Semarang commented on the potential alignment of a strategic program with the city plan by stating:
I think we are working on it in terms of, let’s say, for the Resilient Kampungs, we are trying to engage them. The city government, BAPPEDA, says that they are and that they can commit. They are interested in taking that proposal in the city government program.
To support the continuation of the WaL activities and stimulate the proposal development process, the city’s resilience team and local members of the design team formed the Water as Leverage Taskforce, which was responsible for policy alignment and maintaining relationships with the regional and national government. As the chief resilience technical coordinator explained: “The role of this taskforce is to establish connections with the provincial and national government. We should make an integrated claim and promote the Water as Leverage strategies there very well”. However, despite these efforts, policy alignment at the regional and national levels was considered the main challenge confronted by the teams to move forward to the implementation process. The implementation of the strategic climate resilience proposals, such as the Integrated Protective Coastal Zone program, required coordination across governmental agencies at the local and regional levels. As a knowledge partner from the Initiative for Urban Climate Change and Environment (IUCCE) stated:
It is important (to) work closely with the provincial and national level government because some areas, rivers, and solutions [within the strategic climate resilience proposals] do not fall under the authority of the city but under the authority of the national and provincial governments.
The six proposed strategic climate resilience proposals were supported by the Semarang city government. During a local workshop, namely the International Seminar Water as Leverage Semarang, the MOU to put forward these proposals was signed by the mayor of Semarang, the Dutch water envoy and the Dutch ambassador to Indonesia [49
]. The interviewees also commented that the WaL program stimulated the involvement of the design team members in giving input to the development of Semarang’s upcoming spatial mid-term plan. However, the challenge is that the potential funding from international financial organizations requires the approval from and should be mandated by the national government. As a team member of the One Semarang team stated:
They [international financial organizations] always have to have the national government involved. Deciding on whether it was going to be a loan, grant, or extra budget from the national government, all those things have to be done through the national government.
The coordination with and approval from the national government was thus required for the mobilization of resources, especially funding in the proposal development and implementation. The presentation of the resilience proposals was accompanied by the following narrative of adaptation:
Semarang’s future is secured through a combination of ecological restoration, economic growth, improved land governance and fostering of social capital within communities. This will be a paradigm shift that will break the vicious circle and propel Semarang into a resilient future.
(Water as Leverage, 2019b, p. 1)
The built narrative of adaptation consists of phrasings like “breaking the vicious circle”, “taps into the abundance of water and possibilities” and “no-drop gets lost”, which are used to characterize the urban flood and water solutions from the WaL program. It still requires considerable work to translate the overall narrative into the operational planning process and procedures of the city. However, this narrative is used as a communication tool and storyline for influencing policy change in the city’s flood risk and water management to focus more on different types of spatial adaptation measures, such as Spongy Mountain Terrace.
Although it took more work than anticipated to embed the strategic proposals in the regional and national governments’ plans for the implementation of the solutions, the role of the city’s resilience team was important, as it turned out to be the change-agent for the city’s resilience policy and collaboration with international partners. The city’s resilience team consists of a network of local government agencies such as the Semarang Development Planning Agency, local NGOs such as the Initiative for Urban Climate Change and Environment (an NGO supporting the various flood adaptation initiatives), BINTARI (local environmental NGOs), and UNDIP. Their continual efforts have played a large part in evoking changes in the city’s flood adaptation. The WaL knowledge partner from the Future Cities Laboratory Singapore (a project initiated by ETH Zurich) commented on the involvement of the University (UNDIP) as a change-agent stating, “I think the involvement of academics like the university is really good. They have students that enable the continuation. The involvement of students assists to help to communicate with the local people in Kampungs (community) and improve their capacity”. Their support and close engagement with the design teams are essential for the implementation of proposals in the strategic climate resilience proposals, as their position further strengthens the bond between local institutions, local policy officials, and NGOs.