Blue and Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Ecosystem
Celebrating World Environment Day, 2021
In line with the 2021 World Environment Day (WED) theme “Ecosystem Restoration”, the consortium of NAXA and Institute of Himalayan Risk Reduction (IHRR) organized a one-day webinar on “Identification, Mapping, and Promotion of Blue and Green Infrastructure for Sustainable Urban Ecosystem”. The consortium partnered with the Geomatic Engineering Society (GES), Kathmandu University as the Mapathon Partner.
The kickoff day on June 5, 2021, consisted of three activities which were divided into two sessions:
The official launch of the Blue & Green Infrastructure Identification and Mapping Initiative portal
Keynote talk and presentation from thematic experts.
An open data Mapathon engaging volunteer mappers to identify and map BGI in two urbanized cities (Kathmandu and Hetauda)
The webinar was attended by approximately 185 participants (125+ during the 1st session and 60+ during the 2nd session) from different organizations (academia, development partners, NGOs/INGOs, etc).
During the first session, speakers shared their insights on the Blue-Green infrastructures and their significant values in society. All the speakers emphasized the priority to continuously engage and collaborate between the community, civil society, national and international level to sustain urban resilience.
Highlights from the speakers:
Mr. Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, History and culture documentarian, shared his thoughts on the impacts of Unplanned Urbanization on Blue Green Infrastructures and Heritages along with Future Considerations with few historical images, illustrations, and maps.
Dr. Menaka Panta, RS, and GIS expert highlighted the importance, need, and potential of Green Infrastructure, and application of RS and GIS in Urban planning.
Mr. Laxmi Dutt Bhatta, Ecosystem-based Adaptation and management Specialist, demonstrated on Green infrastructure for urban resilience, and also shared ancient religious texts with conservation practices along with quotes & verses of Veda and Tripitaka.
Prof. Dr. Jibaraj Pokharel, the Chief guest of the webinar formally inaugurated the Beta version of the BGI portal and briefly illuminated traditional attachments with historical monuments. He also described the govermental challenges and opportunities of Nepal in terms of preservation.
Launch of BGI portal
The first session concluded with a number of questions from the audience, dealing with issues of urbanization, the difficulty and limitation of political will, implementation, challenges, and perceptions of youth on the preservation of cultural heritages and Blue-Green Infrastructures.
The second session was a Mapathon moderated by the GIS team from NAXA and GES. Shweta Khanal, GIS analyst, and GES engaged volunteer mappers to identify and map BGI in two urban cities (Kathmandu and Hetauda). The session pointed out technical training with the importance of Open Street Mapping (OSM) essentially for navigation and GIS analysis.
About the Blue & Green Infrastructures Identification and Mapping Initiative :
NAXA and IHRR jointly started the Blue and Green Infrastructures, Identification, and Mapping initiative with the objective of mainstreaming Blue and Green Infrastructure on the development policies of the urbanizing cities of Nepal. Blue Infrastructure refers to the water bodies such as rivers, ponds, lakes, stone spouts, etc. whereas Green Infrastructure refers to the green spaces such as parks, forest, garden, etc. which makes blue-green infrastructures (BGI), the interconnected linkage of natural and open areas including water bodies and green open spaces with other environmental features to provide a designed and managed broad range of ecosystem services to the wide range of individuals.
During the first phase of Implementation, this initiative involved identification, mapping, and exploring the measures for conserving and restoring traditional ponds, stone pouts, etc for sustainable urban ecosystems in the core urban areas of rapidly urbanizing cities.
Following activities have been carried out to date:
Our team member Mr. Suraj Gautam was awarded a Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Mayor Research Fellowship research grant to Identify, Map, and recommend a conceivable approach for the conservation and advancement of Blue infrastructures inside KMC.
A field-based data collection and survey by a team of surveyors to identify Blue infrastructures (particularly hitti (stone spouts) and ponds) within the KMC under the fellowship.
Identification of 156 locations, mainly, operational and management status of the infrastructure –stone spouts and ponds.
Mobilized surveyors to collect photographs and other attribute datasets of Blue Infrastructures.
Discussions with local stakeholders (municipal office, ward office, representatives from local communities) with respect to the current situation, and the cultural significance of these traditional amenities.
Created a web-based interactive mapping platform/ web portal - https://bgi.utilitymaps.org/ to outline and visualize the blue infrastructure datasets.
Future Plans and Scale-up
The past work focused on the identification and mapping of blue infrastructure in one urban municipality only, but as highlighted above, green infrastructures are equally important. Hence further research needs to be done at a broader scale to integrate both blue and green infrastructures. The team has henceforth laid out some short-term and long-term plans regarding our further activities:
Immediate activity plan
Expand the web platform further to visualize both blue and green infrastructures, their current status, and other attributes.
Sign MoU and partnership with interested committees/organizations involved in a similar theme and further collaborate it to our Open data portal for wider dissemination. Eg: We signed an MoU with the organization “Data Workshop Nepal '' which is currently working on a Blue Infrastructure Mapping project in the Changu Narayan Municipality.
Explore opportunities for research collaboration partnership with universities, researchers, and stakeholders.
Collect reports and publications related to the previous studies of BGI inside the Kathmandu valley.
Encourage and engage youth volunteers for participatory mapping and digitize the existing datasets and upload them in the portal.
Continue the mapathon session engaging volunteers from other parts of the country.
Conduct at least a fortnightly webinar series on awareness of BGI, knowledge sharing of its significance, and initiatives/ best practices taken to promote and conserve around the world.
Design long-term research projects in collaboration and partnership with academia or other interested organizations working in this sector.
Conduct a Citizen Science campaign with a focus on engaging local people in the mapping, conservation, and understanding of BGI through the following:
Encourage and engage citizens to join the campaign and train to use a smartphone app with the following functionalities:
Collect thematic photos
Flow measurement of blue infrastructure
Submit the data from their app/mobile phone.
Comment, and report on encroachment of such infrastructures at surroundings through the use of the smart app.
Submit inspiring, conservation, and preservation stories related to BGI and envisage them in the open data portal.
Develop a story mapping section and video sharing section in the web portal to showcase the ongoing initiatives, best practice stories, and the history of the heritages.
Identify plans for promotion and preservation of BGI by organizing different events such as cleanup campaigns, involve local clubs, guthi, ma-pucha, celebrating the festivals which interlink the conservation of BGI, like Siddhi Nakha (a well celebrated Newari festival).
A volunteering initiative received concern from stakeholders, academicians, students, and participants from various backgrounds. Importantly, participation further drives us to find potential alternatives in the preservation of such traditional, aesthetic and environmental values.
All in all, the event laid a solid and important foundation that not only encouraged all to think critically about once valued and cherished traditional amenities in core urban areas, but also enabled fruitful discussions regarding the importance of urban resilience.
Furthermore, the organizers are fully dedicated to bringing together through webinars, training sessions, mapathon, etc in upcoming days as well.
We would also like to request everyone to please explore the Blue and Green Infrastructure portal at( https://bgi.utilitymaps.org/ ) and If you require any further information, feel free to contact us at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org