VICKSBURG, Miss. (April 9, 2021) ― The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature (EWN) program’s Book Launch Event celebrated the release of Engineering With Nature, an Atlas, Volume 2 with the public, and included speakers conveying a shared goal for expanding EWN practices globally through collaboration, April 7.
The Atlas, Volume 2, now available online, showcases EWN principles and practices in action through illustrations and descriptions of 62 projects from around the world ― from as far afield as Nigeria to as close to the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center as Ship Island off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Twenty-three of the projects were contributed by 16 different USACE districts.
Dr. Todd Bridges, national lead of the EWN program, opened the event by welcoming virtual attendees. “The projects illustrate the power of multisectoral collaboration and partnership in delivering nature-based solutions,” he said. “The infrastructure community knows how to build nature-based solutions. The opportunity before us is to expand the application of that know-how and experience to create value for all.”
Harmonizing with Bridges’ themes, Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, 55th chief of engineers and commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that partnering with nature will be a vital part of delivering infrastructure solutions in the 21st century. “In the Atlas,” he said, “USACE and a host of organizations show what it means to engineer solutions to meet our climate change challenges.”
“Relationships and partnerships are vital ingredients for innovation and progress,” Spellmon continued. “We don’t succeed in delivering the program without partners.”
The four critical elements that define the EWN approach are using science and engineering to produce operational efficiencies; using natural processes to maximum benefit; increasing the value provided by projects to include social, environmental and economic benefits; and using collaborative processes to organize, engage and focus interests, stakeholders and partners.
Seven executives and leaders from a range of internal and external, national and international partners delivered perspectives on the release of the book. Organizations such as the USACE Mobile District and Rijkswaterstaat of the Netherlands were represented.
Jennifer Morris, chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), said, “Investing in nature can provide clean and reliable water supplies, support fish habitats, and reduce risks from floods, droughts, extreme heat and fires – nature-based solutions can save money, too. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, TNC scientists found that coastal wetlands prevented more than $625 million in potential property damages.”
“Having been in the forefront of nature-based solutions for more than a decade, it’s clear that the Corps, through the Engineering With Nature program, is well-positioned to accelerate these types of projects in the period ahead,” she said.
The hour-long program also featured a live discussion panel of several guests, including Eunice Heath, global director of sustainability and implementation leader for valuing nature, Dow and Dan Bond, deputy director of flood and coastal risk management strategy, the Environment Agency of England.
“We’re really proud to showcase four projects in the Atlas this time around,” Heath said. “No matter what the organizational framework we’re in, we need to drive to both fiscal and environmental responsibility — and it takes collaboration. Collaboration is key and is critical for us all.”
Bond shared his perspective on the key benefits of international collaboration on EWN and nature-based solutions. “The real value of the Atlas is that you can pick it up and see that the context in the United States is often no different from the context in England, Europe or Africa,” he said. “The international collaboration is about being aware that there are often others who are better-suited and ahead of you in the game.”
The Atlas, Volume 2 is now available online and can be accessed here: http://dx.doi.org/10.21079/11681/40124
For more information about the USACE Engineering With Nature program, please visit https://ewn.el.erdc.dren.mil/ or engineeringwithnature.org