Prof. Mikio Ishiwatari

The University of Tokyo, Japan


Biography: Mikio Ishiwatari is Senior Advisor on Disaster Management and Water Resources Management at Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo. He has been engaged in the projects and research works of disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation, and water. He led formulation of the Japanese assistance policies of climate change adaptation and community-based disaster management. He worked at the World Bank as Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist, and produced the “Learning from Megadisaster: Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake”. He worked at various positions at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, Japan for 17 years. He formulated and supervised national projects of flood risk management and highways in Iwami District as Director of Hamada River and Road Office, and was responsible for research and technology development as Senior Deputy Director for River Technology and Information. He worked as Urban Development Specialist at the Asian Development Bank. He was a member of “Committee on Building Resilience to Natural Disasters” of the Japan Science Society; and experienced members of “Advisory Council of Development Assistance in Climate Change Adaptation” of Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan, “Steering Committee of Water and Climate Change of Asia-Pacific Water Forum”, and other committees of government organizations. He holds a PhD in international studies and MSc in Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo.

Speech Title: Integrating Green Infrastructure in Flood Risk Reduction to Adapt Climate Change

Rapid urbanization, population growth, and the severe effects of climate change are increasing the threat of flooding and require comprehensive and innovative approaches. Relying solely on traditional engineering solutions such as dams and levees has proven insufficient to mitigate flood damage. Recognizing that adaptation to climate change is essential, this keynote presentation will focus on efforts to integrate green infrastructure that leverages natural functions into flood risk reduction. Several countries have pioneered programs focused on enhancing investments in flood risk reduction and integrating adaptation to climate change. A closer examination of recent initiatives in flood-prone regions, including the United States, European countries, and Japan, reveals an evolving flood risk reduction landscape.
Japan, in particular, has taken a proactive approach by developing a comprehensive flood protection policy known as “River Basin Disaster Resilience and Sustainability by All." This new policy encompasses flood prevention, exposure reduction, and disaster resilience. Notably, it mobilizes all stakeholders within a river basin, including national and local governments, the private sector, residents, and water users, to unite in promoting disaster resilience and sustainability. At the heart of this policy is the key concept of green infrastructure. By incorporating green infrastructure, Japan aims to address not only flood risks, but also broader ecological and economic concerns. Integrating green infrastructure will protect ecosystems, strengthen local economies, and create a more sustainable and attractive national land. The 2015 National Land Plan advocates the multifaceted benefits of the natural environment and incorporates both hard and soft aspects of infrastructure development and land use. In addition, an environmentally oriented river program initiated in 1990 has been successful in preserving Japan's scenic landscapes and riverine habitats. Innovative initiatives demonstrate Japan's achievements in reducing flood risks while remaining in harmony with the environment. Projects such as the Kaminishigo River Project in Fukuoka and the redevelopment project in Futakotamagawa, Tokyo exemplify the integration of urban development and environmental awareness. Efforts in the Chitose River basin in Hokkaido highlight the potential for flood protection while nurturing an endangered ecosystem. Along with these successes, however, come pertinent challenges. Implementing green infrastructure requires evidence of its effectiveness in risk reduction and highlights the need for solid policymaking. Identifying the benefits of green infrastructure and balancing them with costs remains a challenge. Addressing these challenges will require a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach that includes the active participation of various government agencies and communities. This keynote will delve into these important aspects, examine lessons learned, and discuss the central role of green infrastructure in protecting communities from flood threats exacerbated by climate change.

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