The Cities Solve, Cities Deliver campaign is showcasing inspirational game-changing water resilience initiatives in cities in the lead-up, during, and after the UN 2023 Water Conference. Our water resilience journey travels through Europe and the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America.
Scroll down to read more about the initiatives cities in Europe and the Middle East are working on to transform their water threats into opportunities for building a more resilient future for the city and its communities.
Greater Manchester is connected by water and as a principle, rainwater should be managed as a resource to be valued for the benefit of people and the environment.
Rainwater should be retained within the environment as close as possible to where it lands. Implementation will not happen on its own and requires coordination and partnership working across a complex network of infrastructure assets, physical systems and regulatory roles and responsibilities.
Through a strategic cross-sectoral partnership approach, shared vision and an Integrated Water Management Plan, we will work differently to ensure an integrated and sustainable approach to water management in Greater Manchester.
Working together, Greater Manchester will manage water wherever it falls, so that its quality and quantity are enhanced to support people, places, and prosperity and enable green and sustainable growth.
In The Hague, Netherlands, its famous sand dunes are not only home to 7,000 plants and animal species, but they also store and filter large amounts of drinking water, supplied to the city’s residents and beyond. By planning with resilience, the city is unlocking multiple benefits, creating nature parks, preserving biodiversity and supplying fresh water.
The City of Rotterdam is building resilience at the district level, transforming flooding risk challenges into infrastructure that provides communities safe, climate-resilient green spaces to gather and play, and at the same time boosts the district’s economic development through the creation of green jobs to manage and operate energy transition infrastructure.
Rotterdam has a historic flooding issue, which has led them to be pioneers in developing innovative water resilience infrastructure. But the city is also facing other effects brought on by climate change, including heat and droughts; inequity, and like many cities around the world, the rise of energy and food prices is impacting the most vulnerable populations the most.
To tackle this, Rotterdam has developed Resilient BoTu2028. The district level plan consists of developing water resilience infrastructure, including water squares, rain gardens, and water buffers that double as social and climate infrastructure bringing together people of all ages to play, gather, exercise, and many more activities and protecting them from the changing climate. At the same time, the initiative includes setting up energy resilience infrastructure, including solar panels, that will provide communities with not only green energy but also bring employment opportunities for them.
Resilient BoTu2028 is game changing in three ways; first, water infrastructure is contributing to advancing social resilience. Second, it brings together water and climate resilience with other urgent transitions, like the energy transition and finally, it develops social resilience on the district level as an entry and starting point, which allows for the project to be scalable to other districts. This initiative will be the blueprint for greener, socially, water, climate and energy resilient districts within the city, which will in turn help collectively build a more resilient and equitable Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is a resilience champion and continues to inspire and mentor cities across the globe in building water and resilience infrastructure, from New Orleans to Surat.
The City of Ramallah has taken a big step toward a greener future by transforming wastewater into a source of water for public and private use, including supplying water to firefighters, construction workers, and public parks.
Ramallah has been struggling with water scarcity for a long time, with limited water supply leading to increased droughts and a shortage of potable water, especially during the summer season when extreme heat is becoming more common due to the changing climate.
However, the Ramallah Wastewater Treatment Plant has given a transformative solution to this problem. By making reclaimed wastewater accessible for public and private use, the project has succeeded in increasing the amount of water available in the city and conserving scarce potable water for human consumption.
With this initiative, Ramallah is joining other cities worldwide to deliver solutions that achieve SDG6 for a greener and more sustainable future.
London Strategic SuDS Pilot Study
In London, surface water flooding can have a devastating impact on communities and their livelihoods.
The city is susceptible to this type of flooding for three reasons; First, there is rapid runoff from hard surfaces; second, the city is prone to high-intensity thunderstorms; and lastly, the city is served by a combined sewer system that is more than 100 years old and at capacity.
Multiple government sectors and stakeholders came together to develop a solution. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are small interventions of water drainage infrastructure around neighborhoods that can help communities build resilience to increasing extreme rainfall events while improving public spaces – providing shade and a habitat for invertebrates and other wildlife.
But there was a roadblock to the implementation of SuDS; under the existing funding schemes and conditions, there was no possibility for small measures like SuDS to be funded due to difficulties in calculating flood risk benefits, making SuDS hard to fund via the standard appraisal process.
In creating PROSPER (Protecting People, Properties and the Environment with SuDS), a partnership of the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Greater London Authority, Arcadis, and the London Drainage Engineers Group (LoDEG), the city is finding different paths for these impactful interventions to be funded.
By planning with resilience, the city is advancing flood resilience to protect communities, creating greener and more biodiverse public spaces, and at the same time, communities are getting involved and working with local authorities on creating SuDS schemes that work for and with them.
Subregional Integrated Water Management Strategy (SIWMS)
After the 2021 London floods and 2022 drought, the @Mayor of London is taking action to enhance London’s water resilience.
The Mayor’s London Infrastructure team is working on the Subregional Integrated Water Management Strategy for East London, assessing water, wastewater, and environmental systems in the lower Lea catchment and identifying measures to build climate change preparedness.
To ensure impactful change, the team is collaborating with Mott MacDonald and Imperial College London and has convened a steering group comprising representatives from Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Local Authorities. The steering group host guest speakers, undertakes site visits and engages with academic best practice; enabling capacity building across various organisations. With a systems mapping model, the team determined the interdependencies of the different water and urban systems and established how to integrate interventions to address challenges collectively. The project is now exploring the governance structures and tools necessary to achieve this.
Building resilient infrastructure is essential for London to deliver on its long-term housing and economic growth ambitions. The modeling outputs of the project evidenced that greater policy ambition is required to address future challenges, including those related to Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, that can improve access to green spaces for communities.
The City of Vejle lies in a beautiful area, but the city faces flooding risk from the Vejle Fjord, streams, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and a rising water level, all being intensified by the changing climate.
Vejle is transforming these challenges into opportunities for communities to be safe, and at the same time have spaces to come together and thrive. Together with the Housing association ØsterBO, the sewer company Vejle Spildevand A/S and the communities, the city co-created public spaces that help manage water and prevent flooding. These public spaces provide communities with new recreational areas, playgrounds, meeting places, activities, spaces to protect biodiversity, among others.
The “Tommy Troelsens Park” is now a multifunctional park that combines a playing field with a climate and activity park for recreation. The playing field is divided into three areas/basins, which are used to delay rainwater temporarily.
The park “Klimaparken” is also a multifunctional park. Here rainwater is managed and controlled on the surface via channels and lakes/basins.
Today, the Eastern District is an area where we demonstrate what a resilient city is, and how we can control excess water and find synergies that add value to the area and its communities.
Thessaloniki, a Greek port city, is over 2,000 years old! A fact that drives the city’s vivid historical character and explains the dense and aged building environment that makes the city’s ecosystem and community more vulnerable.
Through partnerships, Thessaloniki is harnessing its power to transform threats into opportunities to build water resilience. The municipality is collaborating with the Water Supply and Sewerage company of the city, EYATH SA, on implementing energy upgrading works in the central Wastewater Treatment Plant, which will enhance biogas production and renewable energy generation while they plan actions for the quantification, control, and reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions .
As part of the European Commission’s Mission of the “100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities until 2030”, Thessaloniki aims to reduce 50% of its processes and infrastructure’s carbon footprint by 2030.
This initiative sets the basis for serving the community inclusively with environmental efficiency and renewable energy. It enhances Thessaloniki’s climate and energy resilience while modernizing the city’s water sector—improving rainwater storage, flooding prevention and sewage system.
For 132 years, Barcelona has been developing urban drainage master plans. Yet, as in many cities worldwide, the current infrastructure models must be updated to address future scenarios posed by climate change.
Reduced water availability, rising sea levels, flooding, receding beaches and deteriorating water quality are some of the city’s water stresses.
Inspired by nature and based on evidence, the city is evolving to transform these threats into opportunities.
The local government is putting forward a series of strategies that entail changing the traditional drainage model, combined with expanding and improving the infrastructures in line with the sustainable development goals through the Integral Drainage Master Plan of Barcelona.
The plan evaluates Climate Change’s impact on flood mitigation for the next 80 years, including the updated risk map for rainfall and proposes measures to be implemented in the next 20 years, shown in the map of new structural investments.
The new sustainable urban drainage systems reproduce nature’s drainage system by managing rainwater at the collection source. These systems also increase surface greenery and provide additional benefits for the city and the community, such as better air quality and a reduced heat island effect.