USACE Hosts Vietnamese and World Bank Delegation for a Study Tour on Nature-Based Solutions

For over 15 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has actively engaged in initiatives that share best practices in water management, disaster risk mitigation, and sustainable development across the Indo-Pacific region. Collaboration with our international partners and allies not only contributes to community resilience within the region but also fosters peace, stability, cooperation, and development worldwide.

Earlier this month, USACE hosted delegates from five Vietnam ministries and eight provinces for a World Bank sponsored study tour focused on nature-based solutions. The delegates visited various Corps of Engineers’ offices and projects to learn about the use of nature-based, sustainable solutions in the management of water resources. The objective of the visit was to support Vietnam’s initiative to implement nature-based solutions in the Vietnam delta.

USACE PHOTO BY PATRICK BLOODGOOD

During their eight-day visit with USACE, the delegation toured nature-based solution sites such as the Bonnet Carre´ Spillway, and Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion project (New Orleans District); The Water Institute (Baton Rouge, Louisiana); Louisiana State University Center for River Studies (Baton Rouge); the Cognitive Ecology and Ecohydraulics Facility, Sediment Transport Laboratory, Wave Flume, and Mount St. Helen’s physical model (The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center-ERDC); and select sites in the Everglades (Jacksonville District, South Florida Office).

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“This exchange between nations was productive and demonstrated the opportunities for technical and engineering collaboration. As our water resources management challenges are similar, so are many of our technical and policy alternatives to address them. We look forward to continuing discussions and exchanges into the future,” said Dr. Joe Manous, director for the USACE Institute for Water Resources.

Briefings and discussions highlighted USACE’s best practices and lessons learned in physical and numerical modeling, processes and policies, engineering, research, and restoration planning. The locations and topics covered nature-based solutions for large river systems to provide more economical, efficient, and environmentally-sound water resources management in the U.S. and Vietnam’s respective river basins.

USACE PHOTO BY PATRICK BLOODGOOD

“The opportunity to demonstrate how USACE engineers with nature and to collaborate with our partners was invaluable,” said Jennifer Rainey, national program manager at headquarters USACE, who managed the overall coordination of the entire visit. “Our engagements during this multi-day tour promoted awareness, dialogue, and solutions which serve to advance the resilience of vulnerable communities facing growing threats from climate change.”

The tour of the Bonnet Carré Spillway demonstrated the concept of making room for a river, rather than confining it, for flood control purposes. At Davis Pond, the group saw how an ecosystem restoration feature provides benefits by controlling the flow of fresh water, sediments, and nutrients from the Mississippi River to the Barataria Bay estuary.

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The Water Institute and LSU Center for River Studies showcased how a non-governmental organization and academia are helping to successfully build resilient and equitable communities, sustainable environments, and thriving economies.

At aw, the delegation learned about current research and development used to advance flood risk mitigation, fisheries, ecosystem rehabilitation, and coastal resilience. During tours of the Everglades Restoration Project the group witnessed the magnitude of restoration work being done and learned about flood risk management in a growing population center and the integration of nature-based solutions in these unique environments.

USACE PHOTO BY PATRICK BLOODGOOD

The visit culminated in a half-day session at USACE headquarters with a latter session at the World Bank Headquarters, both in Washington, D.C. The session at USACE headquarters included a briefing on the planning process of the Everglades and the Sustainable Rivers Program executed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. A roundtable discussion of all the events brought perspective for future applications of lessons learned shared throughout the study tour.

Ms. Phuong Nguyen, World Bank senior specialist stated, “The World Bank expresses its deep appreciation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This study tour isn’t just a knowledge exchange. It is also practical and operational in helping to shape the design and preparation of an investment program for the Government of Vietnam aimed at building climate resilience for the people, livelihoods, and assets in the Mekong Delta.

USACE PHOTO BY PATRICK BLOODGOOD

The eight-day exchange of best practices in nature-based solutions aligns with the U.S. Global Water Strategy and the Mekong-U.S. Partnership. Additionally, the engagement reinforces the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, and water and environmental diplomacy.

“This study tour was extremely beneficial. The Mekong and Mississippi Delta share many similarities,” said the head of the Vietnamese delegation. “We witnessed firsthand how the U.S. implements nature-based and hybrid solutions to address water resource and environmental challenges. We will take many of these best practices and lessons learned home with us, and we look forward to future collaborations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”