Deltalife 13

3 ‘Research institutes like Deltares can play an important role in the COVID-19 recovery process,’ says Bambang Susantono, Vice-President of Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a member of Deltares’ International Advisory Board. ‘Right now, people are hungry for knowledge that can be used for evidence-based decision-making.’ ‘W e are ex- periencing something unpreceden- ted in history, and I think we’ll have a very diffe- rent situation after this pandemic. The economy will be hit hard, and the recovery process will take time. The impact of the lockdowns on the ecosystem is clear. With limited movements of people and goods, suddenly we can see blue skies in big cities. Some rivers are beco- ming less polluted and several of the tourism hotspots have become pristine. However, when the pandemic is over, I expect to see a tendency to recoup the economic losses. I’m afraid governments will ignore sustainability and the environment. We’ll need to prevent this by cautioning them not to think in the short term, but in the medium and long term. We agreed on the 2030 Agenda for SustainableDevelopment with all UN Member States. Now it is even more urgent to stick to the Sustainable Development Goals. At the Asian Development Bank, we always emphasise the importance of balancing the economywith environmental and social aspects. I’d like to see more nature-based solutions: a combination of nature and construction. Not only deve- loping grey, but also green infra- structure. We have to prepare for the ‘new normal’ after COVID-19. We’ll pro- bably still need to practice social distancing which, incidentally, is a term I don’t like. Physical distancing is necessary, but we need more social cohesiveness andmore solidarity . We also need to focus on how to build up resilience – not only in terms of the economy and climate change, but also in terms of health. It is not unthinkable that there will be more pandemics in the future. I think Deltares can be an important player in the recovery process be- cause of the institute’s expertise on deltas. There are not many insti- tutions around the world with this focus. I also believe that Deltares can play a bigger role as ADB’s knowledge partner and that we can conduct more joint research . Now is the time to upscale Deltares’ research projects, particularly in the developing member countries of ADB, whose ecosystems rely heavily on deltas, like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and the Philippines. For example, in the areas of coastal landmanagement, integrated river catchment management, and clean rivers. Hopefully, we can draw on the research Deltares and its partners have done to build better, more sustainable andmore resilient societies .’ Preparing for the ‘new normal’