Resilient water governance

We are developing a water governance approach and associated tools for resilient water systems to improve the resilience of the urban water system.


We want 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 aims to ensure all our governance work takes a resilience lens.

A two-day framing workshop with project grantees defined the project and co-created 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 2019 that provided essential input and information for the development of the City Water Resilience Approach and the validation of the digital collaboration tool OurWater.

“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


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?

We want to publish peer reviewed reports and guidance and achieve the soft launch of the tool, now known as OurWater.

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

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

Project Resources

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.