A presentation at World Bank Headquarters, Washington, DC
Today, Matt will speak at a World Bank seminar session co-sponsored by the South Asia Urban, Water & Sanitation Unit (SASDU) and the Urban Development and Resilience Unit (UDRUR). The subject: Wetlands in the Colombo Metropolitan Region – not just places for wildlife but green infrastructures essential for flood reduction and life in the city. The story topping the bill is our ongoing project in Sri Lanka: Preserving Wetlands for the Future (financed by the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP)). You can read more about the work we’re doing here.
Together with co-speaker Rosanna Nitti, Senior Urban Specialist with SASDU, the presentation will briefly examine the findings so far and focus on the critical innovative actions (present and future) pursued by the Government of Sri Lanka under the MCUDP. It highlights the future challenges to be addressed to manage this natural infrastructure in a way that maximizes the benefits for the city, people and the important biodiversity they contain. It will also describe how the innovative Robust Decision Making (RDM) approach will be applied to the flood model of the Colombo basin to inform the upcoming Wetland Management Plan.
The urban wetlands still remaining in the Colombo basin are an essential and integrated part of a sustainable flood management system for the city. Such urban wetlands retain and absorb rain water, slowly releasing it to the canals, allowing the drainage system to cope with flood events. The scenario without wetlands, in a future heavily affected by the impacts of climate change, presents a much grimmer picture – a drainage system unable to cope even with minor flooding in urbanised areas.
Therefore, conservation, protection and management of urban wetlands and natural habitats as green infrastructures is essential, if not vital.
The seminar will be followed by a brainstorming session on how to best integrate wetland management in flood reduction projects.