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.

Work to date has included successful advancement of water resilience science, presenting draft manuscripts in the inaugural Water Security 2018 conference in Toronto, Canada, and showcasing advances in water resilience design at World Water Week 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Elsevier's Water Security Journal will accept a special issue on water resilience. The Special Issue will establish a reference for water resilience science with applications to practice.

Policy gains through the United Nations have included participation and submission of a multi-stakeholder position advocating for resilience as a paradigm for water development.

Project Leader

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?

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).

What are the outputs?

  • Water Security Journal special issue on resilience to be published 2019.
  • Attendance and presentations, panel sessions at a series of events where policy guidance and decisions will be made. These provisionally 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).

Joint-signatory to open letter

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.

Project Resources

City resilience through a water lens

Dr Mark Fletcher's 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.

Human dimensions of the Resilience Shift

This presentation was given by Alexa Bruce, Project Leader, at the 2018 Toronto Water Security Conference on 17-20 June.


High-level incrementalism and global transformation

Fred Boltz, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is working with the Resilience Shift on our work to influence the water sector including attending the relevant UN High-level Political Forums such as this one in July 2018. He writes about the challenges of global cooperation where “slow, modest, hard-fought progress is the result anticipated from a global political process designed to permit self-expression, to enable multilateral negotiation and to foster progress borne of consensus.”  Find out more.