Water Resilience

Today’s new normal requires models of governance that mitigate risk and respond to evolving challenges.

What is water resilience?

As a vital human need, access to water has always dictated cities’ capacity to support large populations. Urban resilience cannot be achieved and sustained without water resilience. However, the relationship is complex: over recent decades incidents of flooding, pollution and scarcity have become commonplace in expanding urban areas. These events cannot be disassociated from the socio-economic context within which they occur as they are directly related to how we live, where we live and how we govern.

Building water resilience thus requires that we holistically consider a city’s water system, at both city and catchment level. We must understand the relationship between water and other critical urban systems and their various stakeholders.

Helping cities to collectively rethink urban water systems through resilience principles offers an opportunity to tackle global water challenges by providing a systemic and transformative approach to delivering water supply and sanitation services in a more sustainable, inclusive, efficient, and resilient manner.

A water resilient city is one that can survive and thrive in the face of water-related shocks and stresses — ranging from drought to flooding, storm surges, pollution and sea level rise. They can adequately mitigate the impact on the urban water system, for example, of an earthquake on key water infrastructure. This approach does not frame water as a threat, rather an opportunity, an enabler and impact multiplier for urban transformation. It uses water to grow economic activity, to reduce emissions, improve public health outcomes and enable thriving ecosystems and biodiversity.

Our programs on water resilience

In support of our member cities’ efforts to build urban water resilience, R-Cities has been working with partners such as the World Resources Institute and Arup to implement the City Water Resilience Approach through the Urban Water Resilience Initiative Africa program. This initiative aims to help city leaders in Africa understand the full dimension of their water related challenges by diagnosing the shocks and stresses affecting their city’s water systems and prioritizing resilience solutions. It is currently active in three countries across the continent and six cities, including R-Cities network members Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Kigali (Rwanda).

News and Resources

Advancing Urban Water Resilience through Multi-level Governance

Advancing Urban Water Resilience through Multi-level Governance

A collaborative call to action at COP28 and beyond.
Episode 13: Creating a water vision featuring The Hague

Episode 13: Creating a water vision featuring The Hague

Paul Wilson, chair of the Advisory Board for Smart Cities World and Chief Business Officer at the Connected Places Catapult welcomes Robert van Asten, Deputy Mayor and Alderman for Urban ...
Speaker Series 2023 #4 | Conserving Water with Equity

Speaker Series 2023 #4 | Conserving Water with Equity

France experienced a historic drought during summer 2022 which triggered water restrictions and a new movement on sobriety or saving water in French cities. The country anticipates another water ...

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