Civil Society Program

Scaling Up Climate Change Adaptation and Nature-Based Solutions for Vulnerable Communities in Landscapes

Learning with Partners 1 (with WWF International)

Friday, 3 May 2024, 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm (Asia/Tbilisi)
Museum of Fine Arts



Friedrich ConradExternal Aid/Cooperation Officer, International Partnerships, European Commission

Friedrich Conrad works in the Asia Investment Team of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships, where he collaborates with development finance institutions to roll out the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus in Asia and the Pacific. In prior experiences across Africa and Asia, he managed public-private partnerships with the World Bank, Dutch MFA, the private sector, and foundations. Earlier, Mr. Conrad worked as a business analyst at McKinsey, and studied economics and international development at Oxford and Johns Hopkins University.

Christopher HoweRegional Lead for Mekong Delta, WWF-International

Christopher Howe has held a variety of not-for-profit leadership and governance positions over the last 25 years. He is Mekong Delta landscape leader for WWF Viet Nam, Resilient Asian Deltas Initiative leader for WWF International, and supports WWF teams on nature-based solutions across Asia. Mr. Howe has master's degrees in creative writing from Victoria University of Wellington and nature conservation from University College London.

Luc Le CabellecSenior Economist on Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Asia, Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

Luc Le Cabellec has an extensive experience in economics and development, which started in 1980 in Mali where he was a volunteer. He served in various staff and management positions in foreign countries (Mali, Gabon, Congo, Vietnam, Philippines, Jordan) and in French overseas territories (French Guyana and Guadeloupe) as well as at headquarters in Paris. While Mr. Le Cabellec has spent most of his professional life within the AFD Group, he has also worked at the French Treasury, the Asian Development Bank, and in branches of Banque de France abroad. Mr. Le Cabellec is a French national, and he holds an MBA from ESSEC Business School, Cergy, France.

Tyson PhanAssistant Director/Project Manager, Khai Nam Group

Tyson Phan serves as the assistant director/project manager at Khai Nam Group, headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Khai Nam aims to promote Viet Nam's ingredients, cuisines, and specialties globally. The group strives to elevate the quality of life of Vietnamese farmers and others in the supply chain through fair trade practices and ethically sourced products.

Binh Nguyen ThanhSenior Project Officer, Dutch Fund for Climate and Development in the Mekong Delta, WWF Viet Nam 

Binh Nguyen Thanh has over 10 years of experience working with international NGOs on rural development projects in the Mekong Delta, focusing on livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Since 2021, he has been a senior project officer at WWF-Vietnam for a Dutch Fund for Climate and Development project that enables investments in bankable projects focused on climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. He directly supervises initiatives to enhance physical and food resilience through a shrimp and rice pilot model in collaboration with private sector partners.

Arief RabikExecutive Director, PT IndoBamboo, Indonesia

Arief Rabik is a leading expert in bamboo cultivation, value added processing, and brokering public and private support and investment in village-level bamboo production. He is working toward establishing 1,000 bamboo villages in Indonesia and 10,000 bamboo villages in 9 nations globally with a breakthrough strategy to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change and land degradation, while creating economic opportunities and social inclusion for rural communities.

Aaron Vermeulen Finance Practice Leader, WWF-International

Aaron Vermeulen serves as the global lead for WWF’s finance practice and is one of the founders of the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, which has mobilized over €1.3 billion in private capital to date for companies providing nature-based solutions in WWF landscapes. He previously served as ADB-WWF partnership manager where he leveraged conservation impact for the 25 WWF offices in Asia and the Pacific by contributing to ADB's policies, strategies, and investments. Prior to WWF, he worked for Royal HaskoningDHV and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ADB Panelist

Yoko Watanabe Director, Environment, Climate Change, Resilience, and Environment Division, ADB

Yoko Watanabe heads ADB’s environmental sustainability work, including biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration, air quality, circular economy and waste management, and nature-based solutions and investments. Prior to joining ADB, she directed the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program as its global manager at UNDP, and has also held management positions at the World Bank Rwanda Country Office and the World Wildlife Fund. Ms. Watanabe is a Japanese national and holds a master’s degree in international development with a focus on environment management.


Vince Michael Docta ADB-WWF Partnership Liaison, WWF- International 

Vince Michael Docta has 20 years of experience as a development professional working with international NGOs, multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, consulting firms, and the academe. His areas of focus include environment and natural resource management; agriculture and rural development; housing and urban development; and policy and institutional strengthening. He looks after the longstanding partnership between ADB and the WWF.

The session presented case studies on financially viable nature-based solutions (NbS) to support the development of more climate-resilient and sustainable landscapes and economies. These were cases of bankable projects with the potential to create large-scale positive impacts on nature and communities. Cases featured include a freshwater-based project for three rice crops in the Mekong Delta, an integrated shrimp-rice (floating rice) project that increased farmers’ incomes 2.5 times while creating positive impacts on climate, and structural engineered bamboo beams for use in the construction of buildings. Each project had proven environmental, social, and economic benefits and attracted private sector interest. However, the lack of information on returns and impact was ranked as the most important barrier to mobilizing finance for NbS. Investment in detailed programs and project design as well as in building on the feasibility studies is the next step toward scaling up NbS in the Mekong Delta. Discussants presented financial institutions' and donors' perspectives and programs.

In her remarks, Yoko Watanabe pointed out that ADB’s Climate Change Action Plan 2023-2030 envisages that 30% of climate actions will be from NbS. She noted that while it is important to support such approaches, currently there are too many pilots but initiatives are not on a large enough scale. There is a lack of knowledge and skills to move from small to large-scale efforts and a need to generate sufficient knowledge. Another challenge is that there is more government funding than private sector funding for NbS. To expand existing small-scale projects, there is a need for the right blend of finance, institutional arrangements, and market development. She emphasized the importance of partnerships and noted that innovative financing approaches will play an important role. It was noted that the private sector will need support and guarantees.