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Table 1

Summary of the unique challenges in developing countries in Southeast and East Asia and recommendations for the implementation of NBS to address those challenges

ChallengeUnique characteristicsRecommendations
  • 1. Characteristics of urbanisation

 
Population growth rate and land cover change Fast growing developing cities mean there is a need to integrate NBS in planning and design rather than retrofitting NBS as it frequently is done in already urbanised countries (influenced by space constraints in SE/E Asia, where every available space in urban areas is utilised – transport, domestic homes, work environments, waste piles). Populations in Asia have some of the highest percentage of citizens living in cities – megacities (>10 million residents). Very high proportion of urban dwellers in Asia-Pacific live in secondary cities. Need to ensure that NBS is part of urban planning rather than retrofitting. Huge government effort needed, both in terms of legislation and infrastructure investment and support from the local community.The benefits of NBS, such as the increase of green space that are available for urban populations and the relief of pressure on urban infrastructure should be quantified at the onset of any projects in order for NBS to become an easily justifiable and go-to solution. 
Population density of cities Many Asia cities are very high density, putting a lot of pressure on blue-green infrastructure to deliver benefits due to high human to environment ratio. 
2. Biophysical environmental and climatic context  
Climate Tropical areas have high intensity and a lot of rainfall.High temperature and high humidity.Faster growing vegetation due to climatic conditions. Resilience of green-blue infrastructure and people to extreme weather needs to be addressed in the design of NBS. NBS should be considered as a positive contribution to reducing the impacts of extreme events and disasters, justifying its implementation. 
Extreme weather and disasters Many Asian megacities are located on river deltas experiencing higher than average relative sea-level rise and increased exposure to coastal flooding.Asia is projected to have more extreme weather events (i.e. flooding and typhoons) than other parts of the world, which will worsen due to climate change. 
3. Environmental risks and challenges for restoration 
Characteristics and scale of pollution The spatial scale (area) and intensity of pollution in China and SE Asia is massive and population density very high.The types of pollution encountered in Asia differs from addressed previously i.e. industrial pollution from plastics, nanomaterials, bioactive chemicals (e.g. pharmaceutical drugs) and antimicrobial resistance.Data is limited to non-existent on pollutant characteristics including source, prevalence, and temporal/spatial influence in environment. Ecological abiotic or biotic thresholds may have been passed in these heavily impacted ecosystems and can no longer be restored to a previous state and need to be treated as novel ecosystems. There is a need to consider what can be achieved in anthropogenic highly polluted landscapes. Greater understanding of ecosystem restoration limits. Appropriate and cost-effective NBS considering wider and long-term benefits. 
Perception and expectation of solutions Increasing affluence for some citizens means higher expectations around levels of remediation and rehabilitation. What was previously acceptable is no longer acceptable.Solution capability may not be future proof. For instance, increasing pollution leading to a proposed/implemented NBS that is no longer fit for purpose because design was not for that load and/or type of pollution. 
4. Human-nature relationships and conflicts 
Perceptions of naturalness and risks of nature Natural areas harbour dangerous wildlife and diseases – human wildlife conflict is a serious issue across the region.Aspiration toward urbanisation – move away from ‘natural areas’ which are perceived as poor areas.Source and fear of crime associated with green spaces.Urban planning (especially water management) seen as a battle or fight against nature.Land assigned/reassigned for nature conflicting with ‘better uses’ that directly advance human progress e.g. housing. The types of solutions need to recognise that the notion of re-naturalisation may not be suitable for some regions. Important to educate and communicate the benefits of NBS. Include conflict mitigation in their designs such as wildlife crossing, prevent the spread novel zoonotic diseases (i.e. COVID-19), proper disposal of waste and be prepared to educate the public on dealing with conflicts that arise. Need to also account for social, cultural, political and religious diversity. 
Human–wildlife conflict As nature and urbanisation comes closer into contact there is greater potential for human wildlife conflict.Wildlife, from monkeys, large cats to mosquitos have potential harmful effects on health and safety. 
5. Policy and governance context 
Pro-environmental governments Many governments in the region are quite positive in terms of sustainable urban planning i.e. Kula Lumper's aspiration to be a Tropical Garden City and a top 20 most liveable city globally and China's concept of ecological civilization. However, implementation is challenging. Decision making is top-down, while NBS literature describe the importance of co-creation of knowledge and decision making. Regulations for new projects and retrofit should be in place to ensure appropriate management and availability of blue-green infrastructure. While many countries have urban plans and zoning and sustainable policies these may not be effectively enforced, and corruption can be an issue. Social, cultural, political and religious diversity in the region which influence adaptive capacity and need to be considered. 
Political context Many countries are undemocratic or have weak government with conflicting needs.Issues associated with social/environmental justice.Short term vs medium/long term stance.Industry/Government wants conflict with environmental/social (longer term) benefits.ack of legislation to implement change and/or lack of enforcement (e.g. mitigating pollution, sustainable environments). 
ChallengeUnique characteristicsRecommendations
  • 1. Characteristics of urbanisation

 
Population growth rate and land cover change Fast growing developing cities mean there is a need to integrate NBS in planning and design rather than retrofitting NBS as it frequently is done in already urbanised countries (influenced by space constraints in SE/E Asia, where every available space in urban areas is utilised – transport, domestic homes, work environments, waste piles). Populations in Asia have some of the highest percentage of citizens living in cities – megacities (>10 million residents). Very high proportion of urban dwellers in Asia-Pacific live in secondary cities. Need to ensure that NBS is part of urban planning rather than retrofitting. Huge government effort needed, both in terms of legislation and infrastructure investment and support from the local community.The benefits of NBS, such as the increase of green space that are available for urban populations and the relief of pressure on urban infrastructure should be quantified at the onset of any projects in order for NBS to become an easily justifiable and go-to solution. 
Population density of cities Many Asia cities are very high density, putting a lot of pressure on blue-green infrastructure to deliver benefits due to high human to environment ratio. 
2. Biophysical environmental and climatic context  
Climate Tropical areas have high intensity and a lot of rainfall.High temperature and high humidity.Faster growing vegetation due to climatic conditions. Resilience of green-blue infrastructure and people to extreme weather needs to be addressed in the design of NBS. NBS should be considered as a positive contribution to reducing the impacts of extreme events and disasters, justifying its implementation. 
Extreme weather and disasters Many Asian megacities are located on river deltas experiencing higher than average relative sea-level rise and increased exposure to coastal flooding.Asia is projected to have more extreme weather events (i.e. flooding and typhoons) than other parts of the world, which will worsen due to climate change. 
3. Environmental risks and challenges for restoration 
Characteristics and scale of pollution The spatial scale (area) and intensity of pollution in China and SE Asia is massive and population density very high.The types of pollution encountered in Asia differs from addressed previously i.e. industrial pollution from plastics, nanomaterials, bioactive chemicals (e.g. pharmaceutical drugs) and antimicrobial resistance.Data is limited to non-existent on pollutant characteristics including source, prevalence, and temporal/spatial influence in environment. Ecological abiotic or biotic thresholds may have been passed in these heavily impacted ecosystems and can no longer be restored to a previous state and need to be treated as novel ecosystems. There is a need to consider what can be achieved in anthropogenic highly polluted landscapes. Greater understanding of ecosystem restoration limits. Appropriate and cost-effective NBS considering wider and long-term benefits. 
Perception and expectation of solutions Increasing affluence for some citizens means higher expectations around levels of remediation and rehabilitation. What was previously acceptable is no longer acceptable.Solution capability may not be future proof. For instance, increasing pollution leading to a proposed/implemented NBS that is no longer fit for purpose because design was not for that load and/or type of pollution. 
4. Human-nature relationships and conflicts 
Perceptions of naturalness and risks of nature Natural areas harbour dangerous wildlife and diseases – human wildlife conflict is a serious issue across the region.Aspiration toward urbanisation – move away from ‘natural areas’ which are perceived as poor areas.Source and fear of crime associated with green spaces.Urban planning (especially water management) seen as a battle or fight against nature.Land assigned/reassigned for nature conflicting with ‘better uses’ that directly advance human progress e.g. housing. The types of solutions need to recognise that the notion of re-naturalisation may not be suitable for some regions. Important to educate and communicate the benefits of NBS. Include conflict mitigation in their designs such as wildlife crossing, prevent the spread novel zoonotic diseases (i.e. COVID-19), proper disposal of waste and be prepared to educate the public on dealing with conflicts that arise. Need to also account for social, cultural, political and religious diversity. 
Human–wildlife conflict As nature and urbanisation comes closer into contact there is greater potential for human wildlife conflict.Wildlife, from monkeys, large cats to mosquitos have potential harmful effects on health and safety. 
5. Policy and governance context 
Pro-environmental governments Many governments in the region are quite positive in terms of sustainable urban planning i.e. Kula Lumper's aspiration to be a Tropical Garden City and a top 20 most liveable city globally and China's concept of ecological civilization. However, implementation is challenging. Decision making is top-down, while NBS literature describe the importance of co-creation of knowledge and decision making. Regulations for new projects and retrofit should be in place to ensure appropriate management and availability of blue-green infrastructure. While many countries have urban plans and zoning and sustainable policies these may not be effectively enforced, and corruption can be an issue. Social, cultural, political and religious diversity in the region which influence adaptive capacity and need to be considered. 
Political context Many countries are undemocratic or have weak government with conflicting needs.Issues associated with social/environmental justice.Short term vs medium/long term stance.Industry/Government wants conflict with environmental/social (longer term) benefits.ack of legislation to implement change and/or lack of enforcement (e.g. mitigating pollution, sustainable environments). 
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