Resilient water governance

We have developed a water governance approach and associated tools for resilient water systems to improve the resilience of the urban water system. A city water resilience community of practice has been announced for interested parties.


We wanted to encourage collaboration between stakeholders on the implementation of water policies to improve resilience, and develop tools to assist them to do this effectively. This project aimed to ensure all our water governance work takes a resilience lens.

At 2019 World Water Week, a global call to action was announced inviting organisations to get involved in a community of practice for urban water resilience. At the same time, our water resilience work has achieved successful implementation of the City Water Resilience Approach in the first two cities - Greater Miami and the Beaches, and Cape Town. The City Water Resilience Approach was developed in response to cities’ needs for tools and approaches to help them and their stakeholders navigate the process of building resilience.

It was developed to be a robust peer-reviewed approach with custom-designed tools designed to benefit those making decisions to assure water resilience for their city. Its development began with a two-day framing workshop with project grantees defining the project and co-creating a definition of success with associated milestones and decision gateways. In depth research was followed by fieldwork with 700 people from five cities, and remote engagement with a further three cities. This learning was brought together at the Global Knowledge Exchange (GKE) in August 2018 that provided essential input and information for the development of the City Water Resilience Approach and the validation of the digital collaboration tool OurWater. Follow up fieldwork with Cape Town and Greater Miami has led to implementation of this approach for these first two cities.

“We’re excited about continuing to forge the path to a more resilient water supply and management approach in the spirit and recognition of our unique interconnected and interdependent ‘one water’ system. The City Water Resilience Approach fosters collaboration, a priority echoed by stakeholders during the fieldwork engagement process.”

-Hardeep Anand, Deputy Director, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department

CWI Wheel diagram


Outcomes from this project are included in the City Water Resilience Approach.

Supported by The Resilience Shift and the Rockefeller Foundation, this approach and suite of tools has been developed by Arup and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) with support from 100 Resilient Cities, OECD and the World Bank. These resources are now available online to download along with the individual reports for Amman, Cape Town, Hull, Manchester, Mexico City, Miami, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki.

The City Water Resilience five-step Approach and suite of resources helps cities to collaboratively build resilience to local water challenges. Eight cities with different water concerns contributed to its development.

A changing climate coupled with rapid urbanisation has resulted in unpredictable rainfall, flooding, droughts and other water-related shocks and stresses on cities. The City Water Resilience Approach can inform how water programmes and projects are planned, designed, implemented and maintained to improve outcomes for urban populations who rely safe water systems for their health and wellbeing. It can be used by public and private organisations including cities, utility companies, local and national government bodies, and other stakeholders.

Project Leader

Louise Ellis
Project Leader

Louise is a Senior Civil Engineer who has worked on water resilience and sustainable development projects worldwide. She is committed to driving a positive change in global water management and has worked on numerous award-winning schemes.

Eleanor Earl
Project Leader

Eleanor is a civil and environmental engineer with experience in infrastructure design, and specialist expertise in the relationship of water management with digital transformation, sustainable development and resilience.

How are we doing this?

  • Raising awareness of the stakeholders involved in the water catchment and need for collaboration
  • Highlighting the impact 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.
  • Helping enable the development of resilience in water policies

What are the outputs?

Publishing peer reviewed reports and guidance and achieving the soft launch of the tool, now known as OurWater.

The City Water Resilience Approach has been disseminated and tested at key events including:

Project Resources

Presentation WWWeek2019

These slides are from the session hosted at World Water Week 2019 where the City Water Resilience approach was featured and the methodology was presented. Speakers include Dr Fred Boltz, Water Ambassador, the Resilience Shift, and Water Lead, Global Center for Adaptation, Louise Ellis, Arup and the Resilience Shift, Maria-Angelica Sotomayor, World Bank, Trevor Bishop, Water Resources South East, Hardeep Anand, Miami Dade County Water and Sewer Dept., Mark Fletcher, Arup, Katrin Bruebach, 100 Resilient Cities, and Panchali Saikia, SIWI.

OurWater overview tour

The OurWater tool is explained in concept here with overall aims and plans for its future. Please note that its working title was WaterShare and it is referred to by that in this video.

Overview pack

Whether Miami, Amman, Mexico City, Hull or Cape Town, cities face resilience water governance challenges. This detailed presentation explains the aims and programme plan for this focused work on resilience water governance from the Resilience Shift initiative.


Global Engineering Congress presentation introducing the OurWater tool (under its working title, "WaterShare") from the City Water Resilience Framework and the Resilience Shift.

City water resilience

Dr Mark Fletcher, Global Water Leader Arup, gave this keynote presentation to the Institute of Asset Management's Annual Conference 2018. The Resilience Shift has been supporting fieldwork and workshops around water governance that feed into this presentation. The City Water Resilience Framework is being developed by the Rockefeller Foundation and Arup.


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 launched the City Water Resilience Framework with the Rockefeller Foundation. It has also 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.

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

OECD has recently joined this project on a secondment basis.

The challenges our partner cities face

We are delighted to have hosted a SIWI sofa event on the 2018 World Water Week to discuss the City Water Resilience Framework and Governance for Resilient Urban Water Systems project as part of World Water Week.  Our SIWI Sofa session aimed to showcase our work on urban water resilience including an introduction to the City Water Resilience Framework. We wanted to capture the challenges our partner cities face, the value of the framework for the cities as well as sharing our successful fieldwork missions and the project next steps. Watch the video.