Polycentric management of urban waters in fast-growing cities and peri-urban areas in Southeast Asia

Thursday, 25 March 2021

The first international conference of the PolyUrbanWaters research and development project by Borda e.V., TU Berlin and TH Köln

In Southeast Asia, urbanisation and water management go hand in hand, but population growth, climate change, construction and water extraction can result in major challenges for cities in the region. Polycentric approaches to urban water resource management are a response to the need for water-sensitive action in urban development.

The first international conference of the PolyUrbanWaters research and development project will explore the political, ecological and social relevance of polycentric approaches in management of urban waters in Southeast Asia and around the world. The conference brings together international researchers, practitioners, cities and regional representatives, policy makers and global networks to discuss diverse cases from the region and beyond. It sheds light on current development challenges, new experimental approaches towards integrated water-sensitive urban planning and the possibility of knowledge transfer and transnational learning.

PolyUrbanWaters aims to generate comprehensive scientific knowledge that helps develop practice-relevant strategic planning models for fast-growing cities and peri-urban areas in Southeast Asia, enabling them to implement polycentric approaches for water-sensitive urban development. Through practice-oriented field study and the exchange of good practices, PolyUrbanWaters is working together with three pilot cities in Southeast Asia to develop capacities for strategic urban planning and polycentric management of urban waters. The pilot cities are Sleman in Indonesia, Kratie in Cambodia and Sam Neua in Laos. In a strategic field of urban development, PolyUrbanWaters contributes to the achievement and localisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda.


The conference consists of three sessions with four short presentations each, given by researchers and practitioners from around the globe. Each session concludes with a round table discussion joined by all speakers.

Introduction and Keynote Session. Video: Reframe – Videos for the Web

Welcome and Introduction
Hans-Jürgen Commerell, Director, ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr. Philipp Misselwitz, Chair of Habitat Unit, Department for International Urbanism and Design, TU Berlin, Germany

Keynote Session: Urban Water Resources in the World and in Southeast Asia
Moderated by David Dietz and Jati Kusumowati (BORDA e.V.)

Keynote Lecture
Prof. Renee Y. Chow, Architecture and Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Water challenges in urban centres. Need for strategic tools.

Frank Fladerer, BORDA Regional Director, Bangkok, Thailand and
Linnea Fölster, Hamburg Wasser, Hamburg, Germany
Potentials and challenges for polycentric approaches for urban water management in Southeast Asia

Prof. Tony Wong, Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), Melbourne, Australia
Planning Water-sensitive Cities

Barry Beagen, Architect, Urban Planner and Programme Director at Kota Kita, Solo, Indonesia
Water challenges and participatory planning approaches in Indonesia

Roundtable Discussion
The current state of cities in Southeast Asia – What barriers are there to achieving urban water security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's)?

Session 2. Video: Reframe – Videos for the Web

Session 2: Water for the Future in Southeast Asian Cities
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Lars Ribbe (ITT TH Köln) and Dr. Trinh Tran (VAWR, Hanoi)

Dr. Nazmul Huq, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Bonn, Germany
Moving from concepts to practice in urban resilience: impressions from Asia

Dr. Phong Tung Nguyen, Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR), Hanoi, Vietnam
Localisation of SDG's 6 and 11 in fast-growing cities of Vietnam: planning for a sustainable future

Dr. Christof Vosseler, Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Mobility, Urban and Housing Development, Bremen, Germany
How water-sensitive planning contributes to building resilience and climate change adaptation processes: experiences from a German case study

Prof. Dr. Thammarat Koottatep, Environmental Engineering Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand
Regulatory frameworks for (polycentric) water resources management: the case study of wastewater management in Thailand

Roundtable Discussion
What are the major obstacles to addressing water-related risks in the planning of cities in Southeast Asia and how can they be overcome?

Session 3. Video: Reframe – Videos for the Web

Session 3: Global Perspectives on Strategic Planning Tools and Methods for Sustainable Futures
Moderated by Prof. Dr. Bakti Setiawan (Gadjah Mada University) and Anna Wilk-Pham (Habitat Unit, TU Berlin)

Prof. Dr. Bakti Setiawan, Director, Graduate Programme in Urban and Regional Planning, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Challenges, potentials and emerging needs for different tools for sustainable urban planning in Sleman, Indonesia

Rossana Poblet, Architect and Urban Planner, UN-Habitat consultant on Integrated Regional Development Plan, Berlin, Germany
Integrated urban planning strategies and planning and design tools: When to implement them in the so-called Global South?

Lukas Pappert, Urban Catalyst, Berlin, Germany 
Urban transformation processes: scenario building and participatory planning tools

Arlene Lusterio, TAO Pilipinas, Manila, Philippines
Planning future cities: active participation of local governments and civil society – experiences from the Philippines

Roundtable Discussion 
Putting words into action – what is the way forward to create resilient, water-secure cities in Southeast Asia?

This online conference is part of a two-day digital event that has been organised by the PolyUrbanWaters research consortium and will be hosted by ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin. This conference marks the kick-off of a series of conferences organised within the research project that is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the programme: Sustainable Development of Urban Regions (NUR). Detailed project information and the full programme of the two-day conference can be viewed at

PolyUrbanWaters in collaboration with:
Borda e.V.
TU Berlin, Habitat Unit
TH Köln, ITT Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics
Sponsored by:
Federal Ministry of Education and Research, FONA Research for Sustainability





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