Washington DC, 10 September 2022 (TDI): World Bank Water declared that with 67% of its people residing in flood-prone areas, China is one of the countries in the world that is most vulnerable to flooding.

Moreover, World Bank Water shared ‘how to’ natural solutions that have become crucial instruments for China’s catastrophe risk reduction and resilience building. This was shared in a tweet by World Bank Water.

Floods in China 

Recent floods in the Henan Province of China and in other areas of Europe serve as a somber reminder of the destructive effects of water.

Also, over the previous 20 years, floods have been projected to have impacted more than 2 billion people worldwide.

Additionally, due to climate change, these effects are anticipated to worsen, with an increase in the frequency and power of extreme weather events.

This is especially true in metropolitan areas, where impermeable land surfaces impede infiltration and raise the risk of flash floods during storm events.

Furthermore, the tendency of urban populations to reside nearer to rivers, lakes, and coastlines puts cities in danger from a variety of interconnected flood dangers.

Apart from this, 70% of the world’s population, or 6.2 billion people, is estimated to live in urban areas by 2050, two-thirds of whom would be in low and middle-income nations. Also, the number of people at risk of flooding is only likely to rise.

Moving ahead, with more than 640 cities at risk of flooding and 67 percent of its people residing in flood-hit areas, China is one of the nations most vulnerable to floods, losing an estimated 1% of GDP annually on average.

Along these lines, floods in Henan province, with a population of more than 10 million, led to catastrophic flooding and reportedly inflicted direct economic damages of more than 65.5 billion Yuan.

Besides this, the traditional methods for managing urban flooding could no longer be able to deliver the level of services. Hence, climate resilience is needed to deal with the increased threats.

Adding to that, cities are increasingly experimenting with the combination of natural or semi-natural techniques, including building wetlands, permeable roadways, rain gardens, and green roofs, to mimic natural water cycles and lessen the consequences of urbanization.

Moreover, along with the continuous solutions, these nature-based approaches have become significant instruments for increasing resilience.

This will also create sustainable adaptations, and enhance disaster risk reduction.

China’s Sponge City Initiative

In 2014, China launched the Sponge City Initiative to capitalize on the advantages of natural solutions. This strategy contributes to the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Additionally, this is to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable” by integrating green spaces and “blue” systems, like wetlands, into traditional “grey” infrastructure, such as concrete embankments.

Besides this, China wants to make 80 percent of its urban regions “sponge-like” by 2030, which will involve reducing peak runoff. This also adds to reducing flooding from surface water, purifies water, increases water conservation, and promotes environmental quality, community health, and economic success.

Sponge City Initiative: Funds

The Sponge City Program needs an estimated one trillion USD to be scaled up. While government funding has provided the majority of investments to date, more creative and diversified financing solutions are required to close the financial gap.

Furthermore, the solution begins with placing a higher value on nature-based approaches because they offer a variety of market and non-market benefits in addition to reducing flood risks.

Also, these benefits include restoring and preserving natural capital, enhancing the quality of living in urban areas and people’s well-being, and promoting more sustainable outcomes.