Implementing Green Infrastructure in Urban Rivers


Conventional drainage and river embankments in cities have prominently featured inorganic concrete. These so-called "gray infrastructures," while effective, were often costly and did not provide benefits beyond the purpose for which they were installed.


An alternative to gray infrastructure, an ecosystem-based approach (called nature-based solutions or green infrastructure) maintains the functionality of urban infrastructure while contributing to the greening of the city and providing a variety of benefits, such as serving as a place for people to relax.

There are efforts to reduce the risk of disasters such as flooding during heavy rainfall by taking advantage of the wave-breaking effects of ecosystems. These approaches have been gaining attention in recent years as concepts such as "nature-based solutions" and "green infrastructure". In cities in particular, this is an effective means of not only increasing disaster resilience, but also creating green spaces and places where people and nature can come into contact. Asian countries, where urbanization is progressing, are actively incorporating this concept of green infrastructure into their urban planning, and are developing parks and other facilities.


Multifunctional urban river park utilizing the power of nature

SINCE 2019

5 years

Singapore, which is focusing on securing water resources, established the ABC Water Design Guidelines (abbreviated ABC-WDG) in 2006 to promote rainwater cycle management, and has been promoting the development of green infrastructure nationwide. The redevelopment of Bishan Park was implemented as a pilot project.

The project was to transform Bishan Park into a multifunctional urban river park by restoring the concrete drainage river into a natural river. The newly developed natural river increased its allowable flow by widening the river, increasing the emergency floodplain by 40%. In addition, a vast new purification biotope was installed to create a water cycle within the park grounds, where water taken from the park’s rivers and ponds is purified and returned to the river again.

One of the major features of this project is not only the flood control effect, but also the park’s diverse functions as a place for people to relax and interact with water and nature. This is a good example of a “nature-based solution” that draws out the various benefits of nature.


Water-conscious urban design that integrates water management with urban development and the built environment

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city, and its sub-centers, Vinh Yen and Hue, have been implementing Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), which integrates water management with urban development and the built environment, with financial support from the Asian Development Bank’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.

The WSUD approach is believed to have a variety of benefits, including improving water quality, preventing soil erosion and sedimentation, absorbing carbon dioxide through ecosystems, and preserving biodiversity. The Go Bop Cultural Park along the canals of Ho Chi Minh City was designed to be an attractive river park for the community while providing a floodplain to control flooding during heavy rains. The park, which is unusually large for a densely populated metropolitan area such as Ho Chi Minh City, had the challenge of not fully utilizing the space. Although covering the canal that runs through the site with a dike would have helped prevent erosion of the dike, the park was designed to take advantage of the natural topography and disaster prevention effects, creating a space for the coexistence of people and nature.