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New Clark City master plan incorporates Nature-based Solutions after UCCRTF river study

April 2021

New Clark City (NCC), a fully planned, green-field city in the Philippines is being developed to provide an alternative urban centre to the crowded Metro Manila.

Managed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), NCC is being developed with the vision of becoming a leading example of an environmentally sustainable, smart, and disaster-resilient city. To help it realise this vision, the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), through the ADB Office of Public Private Partnerships (OPPP) commissioned a river study to explore how Nature-based Solutions (NbS) could inform the city’s master plan.

The study was carried out by One Architecture in collaboration with the BCDA, OPPP and UCCRTF. It demonstrated that by taking an NbS approach to the planning around the river channel, the BCDA could achieve a well-designed urban space that also builds resilience to climate impacts and deliver a range of other co-benefits.

One Architecture founder Matthijs Bouws, explains, “In the initial master plan, the river had been canalised with concrete walls, in order to accommodate the large volumes of water that would flow through the city in the wet season. When we looked at these canals, we thought that it was not the way you would ideally approach this as the system was rigid, not adaptive, and did not provide all the benefits that come with nature-based solutions, and importantly did not improve the land value in the city”.

The river study was carried out to provide evidence about the potential for an NbS approach for the development around the river channel. “We looked at the natural topography, and began to consider how we could rethink the river within the framework of the master plan” said Mr. Bouws, speaking at Climate Adaptation Summit 2021.

“The valley that the river had carved out is a natural flood plain, and by planning around that, we can create a zone through the city to create a ‘green spine’ through the city. The planners then identified different areas along the river which would have different expected flood frequencies. Areas that flooded more frequently could be used for different purposes to those that flooded less often.”

By combining NbS with traditional engineering solutions the designers crafted a plan that was adaptive and worked with the natural systems. After reviewing the river study, the BCDA changed the master plan to align with the recommendations. As of this writing, construction is well underway, including the development of a large river park.

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UCCRTF Urban Climate Change Resilience Specialist, Joy Amor Bailey, emphasized the power the project had in changing the mindset of the BCDA, shifting its thinking towards a systems approach. In fact, the river study, then led the BCDA to commission a water supply study, that also looked to understand how NbS could contribute to protecting water quality. BCDA has since also requested a biodiversity assessment from the ADB. None of these were planned before the river study was carried out, suggesting that the study helped to increase the understanding and awareness of resilience approaches amongst city-level decision-makers.

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  • UCCRTF Secretariat