An urban manager’s takeaway from Nature-based Solutions for sustainable urban growth 

Meenam Nepal graduated from IHS in 2019 with an MSc in Urban Management and Development, specialising in Urban Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change. After graduation, she went back to her hometown, Thimphu, Bhutan where she currently manages projects that empower urban inhabitants to lead locally-led actions for sustainable development. You can read her experience on the Refresher course Philippines - Creating Smart and Climate-Resilient Cities with Nature-based Solutions in Southeast Asia below.

I have been an enthusiast for climate action for the past ten years. Today, I’m involved in designing and implementing projects that model a participatory/ bottoms-up approach to local development. The projects follow an asset-based community-building approach and have mobilised local knowledge and resources to address environmental and social challenges in urban localities. I strongly believe in the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate socio-environmental issues and have been inspired by success stories from my travels. Through it all, I have strived to consistently expand my knowledge of the issue and adapt my way of life to contribute to the cause.

I grew up and lived in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Similar to urban centres worldwide, Bhutan’s towns and cities face a myriad of environmental challenges. Still, thanks to the country’s strict stance on environmental preservation, urban centres in Bhutan also boast rich forests and nature. However, the potential of nature to mitigate socio-environmental issues has not been harnessed yet, which is evident from the prevalence of grey infrastructure in the municipalities.

So, I was excited to learn that IHS and Nuffic were offering a course for its alumni on nature-based solutions for climate-resilient cities. The month-long course was more enlightening and inspiring than I’d expected an online course to be. It was enlightening to learn from everyone’s diverse experiences and perspectives and better understand how the full potential of NBS can be harnessed to address our pressing issues. It was also inspiring to see people from all over Asia take time out of their work-life to learn something new and to hear stories of NBS being chosen over traditional grey solutions.

The most enriching part of the course was analysing a real case study of Victoria, Philippines, and designing NBS interventions to climate change threats pertinent in the small municipality. This process also helped me assess my hometown Thimphu’s existing NBS realities and the city’s potential for further sustainable growth.

I hope to continue participating in similar learning opportunities to be better equipped to empower urban inhabitants to adopt sustainable ways of living.

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