Designing creative solutions for vulnerable locations

Over the course of three days, several partners including IUCN, the University of Hawai’i Manoa and the Hawai’i Green Growth came together during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawai’i to combine experiences and capacity-building approaches to create awareness and promote solution finding for disaster risk reduction challenges

waikiki area

Starting with a tour lead by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program on 1 September 2016, participants were introduced to the threats posed by climate change and the challenges that invasive species, pollution, overcrowding and poor planning pose to  homes, schools, universities, small businesses and hotels in the Ala Wai Watershed and Waikiki beach areas.

field trip

Following the field trip, two separate events were conducted including a conservation campus at the congress, where partners from IUCN, the Global Island Partnership, Hawai’i Green Growth, the University of Hawai’i Manoa, the Ala Wai Watershed Partnership and PRECOVERY Labs, provided two “hybrid hacks” to congress participants and community members.

These “hybrid hacks” consist of group activities whereby participants are invited to imagine solutions and design interventions to tackles the issues and threats facing the Ala Wai Canal and Watershed, including Waikiki.

Hybrid hack

Solutions from both of the “hacks” were then posted in the exhibition hall at the congress and also shared on facebook pages where congress participants and the public were invited to vote for their favorite solution design. The three top vote getters were announced during two events at the congress, a reception celebrating island leadership at the Hawai’i-Pacific pavilion and a panel featuring the President of the University of Hawai’i  in the evening of Monday 5 September, 2016.

The three favorite designs as determined by the vote, support the Aloha+ Challenge “Smart Sustainable Communities” goal and the Island Resilience Initiative, announced by President Remengesau of Palau on August 31st in Honolulu.


Solution 1: The Kalo Solution

It is a solution focused on education, awareness and empowerment. According to the participants that designed the solution: "Through education and awareness,  we seek to empower stakeholders throughout the watershed to develop solutions appropriate to their unique context, whilst being appropriate and integrated into the greater whole".

 solution 1


Solution 2: Pay it Backward, Pay it Forward

This solution put emphasis on the use and reuse of water in the watershed. Specifically the solution addresses water quality on the makai end of watershed with a decentralized approach. This includes an onsite wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) to be designed to treat all of the waikiki waste water to a water quality level that could be reused.

solution 2

Solution 3: Restoring the Ala Wai from Ridge 2 Reef

This solution is focused on aesthetic restoration for water quality and flood management. It proposes to tackle the challenge of water quality and flooding through the implementation of low-impact development techniques such as upstream bank restoration with native vegetation.

solution 3

This successful process set the stage for different stakeholders including the public to engage together and address the challenges facing vulnerable locations from a solution perspective. A model that can be adapted to design solutions for  islands worldwide as we look into sharing best practices and scaling up projects to increase local resilience.

For more information on the designs and their descriptions, see the Hawai’i Green Growth Facebook page.


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