"Choosing long-term, Nature-based Solutions over short-term, economical alternatives is pivotal for our future," asserts Rosa de Wolf. Biodiversity, together with our climate and water systems, forms our life-support system. All initiatives under the Partners for Water umbrella should strengthen this life-support system. But how do we transcend the abstract nature of this concept? Find the answer by joining the design charrette led by Rosa de Wolf and Nico Tillie from TU Delft.
Rosa’s expertise stems from her background in urban planning and her current role as a PhD candidate in Landscape Architecture at TU Delft. Her work, which began with pioneering designs for arid urban landscapes in Morocco, now focuses on revitalizing over 3,800 industrial sites in the Netherlands into vibrant, multifunctional, and nature-inclusive spaces, a programme financed by the Nationaal Groeifonds (National Growth Fund).
Rosa emphasizes that biodiversity should not be merely an afterthought or a box to tick at a project's end. Instead, it must be a starting point. "Designing for biodiversity means creating spaces that are not just aesthetically green and pleasant but also resilient to climate change," she explains. This approach is about understanding and catering to the specific needs of various species, ensuring that our urban environments are as welcoming and nurturing for them as they are for us.
The importance of this topic has never been more evident. With increasing water management challenges in the Netherlands and globally, Rosa stresses the need for immediate action. "Nature requires time to flourish, and if we aim to secure a habitable environment for the next fifty years, we cannot afford to delay," she insists.
Rosa's involvement with international projects such as Africa Wood Grow in Kenya, offers a wider view on the efficacy of Nature-based Solutions. Another exemplary global initiative is the mangrove plantation in Indonesia, which demonstrates how nature can be instrumental in coastal restoration. These worldwide examples provide concrete evidence of the critical role biodiversity plays in tackling environmental challenges, from soil erosion to effective water management.
Looking forward, Rosa envisions a world where biodiversity is at the forefront of urban design. "The future should see green, diverse spaces as a standard, not an afterthought," she says. This vision requires a paradigm shift in how we approach urban development, prioritizing long-term ecological benefits over short-term gains.
At Waterproof 2024, Rosa, together with her PhD supervisor Nico Tillie, will conduct a design charrette. This session promises to be a hands-on, eye-opening experience. "We'll demonstrate how designing for biodiversity can solve critical issues while enhancing spatial quality. It's an opportunity for professionals to see firsthand how biodiversity can be the foundation of urban design, not just an addition."