We have selected the water sector for the first theory-to-practice partnership because of the momentum created by facts on the ground – of water shortages, catastrophic flooding, sanitation crises and because of the global policy and funding opportunities open by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris climate agreement, and related implementation work. Moreover, there are pockets of ‘best in class’ practice in the water sector, leading the way to understanding water through a resilience lens.  The deep dive with the water sector will allow us to learn when and how to overcome barriers to broader system analysis in infrastructure design and operations.


Leader: Louise Ellis

Governance of resilience water systems

We will develop a water governance approach and tool that improves the resilience of the urban water system.


  • Raising awareness of the stakeholders involved in the catchment.
  • Highlighting the impacts on individual stakeholders and the governance system during shocks and stresses.
  • Developing an approach to align resilience goals across stakeholders to allow for collaborative action on resilience initiatives.
  • Enabling the development of effective and inclusive water policies to improve resilience with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Encourage collaboration between stakeholders on the implementation of water policies to improve resilience.


The technical partners, Arup and SIWI are industry leaders in this area and they have been cooperating to influence global best practices.

Arup has launched the City Water Resilience Framework with the Rockefeller Foundation.

SIWI is supporting the governance section of the UN Synthesis Report, by developing a framework for governance analysis across the SDG6 and supporting analysis and recommendations. In 2017, they produced guidance for resource governance in connected river basin-coastal areas, for Global Environmental Facility investments and a conceptual framework for source-to-sea governance.

Arup has produced a water governance map for Yorkshire, UK, which includes all stakeholders involved in flood and coastal management, water supply, sewerage and drainage and water treatment. This project aims to ensure all this governance work takes a resilience lens.

We are telescopic has been selected on a competitive tender, based on price and quality.


We aim to publish peer reviewed reports and guidance and achieve the soft launch of the tool.

The Resilient Water Governance approach will be disseminated and tested at key events including:

  • Resilience Shift / City Water Resilience Framework Knowledge Exchange event hosted at Lloyd’s Register Foundation in July 2018.
  • World Water Week in August 2018, the annual event organised by SIWI with 3,000+ delegates
  • Bellagio Centre Conference convening in November 2018.


Leader: Alexa Bruce


Influencing the water sector

We are undertaking a water-focused science-to-policy-to-practice influence effort.

The work proposes to build understanding and adoption of resilience concepts, measures, design approaches and investment guidance, codifying resilience initially in global policies guiding development and investment such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and multilateral development bank (MDB) standards.


Along with our partner, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, by the end of this phase of work, we aim to have raised the profile of the Resilience Shift in the water sector, and shifted the conversation from policy towards practice. We want to also understand the potential to apply this learning to other sectors.

The project proponents and key partners over the past 3 years have begun to create the enabling environment for success that through the RS grant will be followed through on in:

  • Global and national policy mechanisms and processes.
  • Receptive policy agencies (UN, member states) and representative constituencies (public, private, civil society).
  • Engaged public investment leaders (World Bank, European Investment Bank) and MDB peers.
  • SIWI water multi-stakeholder group.
  • Thought leaders in water and resilience science and practice (Stockholm Resilience Center, World Bank, U. Massachusetts-Amherst, Columbia University, Oxford University, 100 Resilient Cities, Arup, Deltares, UNESCO-IHP, AGWA).
  • Premier platforms for consultation and consensus building in water science, policy & practice that are receptive to help understanding resilience (UN High Level Panel on Water, UN High Level Political Forum, Water Security journal, Stockholm World Water Week, UN General Assembly).


  • Water Security special issue on resilience to be published in September 2018.
  • Attendance and presentations, panel sessions at a series of events where policy guidance and decisions will be made. These include: UN High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW) (May ’18) | Inaugural Water Security congress (Jun ’18) | UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) (Jul ’18) | Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) (Aug ’18) | UN General Assembly (UNGA) (Sep ’18) | IWA Tokyo Conference (Nov ’18) | Bellagio Centre Conference Convening (Nov’ 18).


In April 2018, the Resilience Shift was a joint signatory to an open letter, entitled, 'Building-a-resilient-future-through-water', to the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development from Multi-Stakeholder Representatives of the Water and Development Community.  Find out more.