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Turning words into action to achieve the SDGs

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Kara Brussen, an engineer in Arup’s Environment team, reflects on her time at November’s Global Engineering Congress. Kara explains that the engineering and infrastructure community has an important opportunity to contribute to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals and should now focus on turning words into action to ensure we have a positive impact.

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the most ambitious goals humanity has ever set for itself. Everyone has a role to play in achieving them – including engineers.

In November, 2,500 engineers from 70 countries came together to discuss the SDGs at the first ever Global Engineering Congress. Throughout the week it was evident that both organisers (the Institution of Civil Engineers and the World Federation of Engineering Organisations) and attendees were determined for the event to be more than just talking – the motto repeated throughout the week was turning “words into action, and action into impact”.

As I listened to talks and participated in workshops over the week, several themes emerged around the role of engineers in delivering the SDGs. These include:

Engineers have a great opportunity to influence

The streamers in the photo represent four of the goals that engineers can most readily influence – those relating to water, energy, infrastructure and cities. However, there are opportunities for engineers to influence across all the SDGs. At the GEC, UNOPS and the University of Oxford launched a report which outlines how infrastructure underpins the sustainable development and relates to each and every SDG. Infrastructure and buildings designed by engineers now will shape the built environment for future generations.

Engineers don’t operate within a bubble

Most delegates at the GEC were engineers (not surprising given the name of the event). However, it emerged over and over that engineers do not work in isolation. Projects are promised by politicians, planned by policy-makers, funded by financial institutions and then used over many years by the communities that we serve. Achieving the SDGs will need commitment from everyone, and engineers can seek to influence to ensure that (a) the right projects are built and (b) they are built in the right way. This shares commonality with the value-based approach to infrastructure delivery which recognises that there are multiple stakeholders engaged in critical infrastructure, and was presented by the Resilience Shift at their GEC workshop.

The GEC also highlighted that while the SDGs are part of a global sustainable development agenda, the challenges to implementing them are very different depending on the local context. For example, some delegates were from countries that had a severe infrastructure deficit, whereas others were trying to work out how to deal with a legacy of ageing infrastructure. Conferences like the GEC allow engineers to learn from each other, and professional institutions reinforce those links and provide further opportunities to share best practice.

Engineers are already coming up with tools and processes to align projects with the SDGs

Martin Van Veelen from the South African Institution of Civil Engineering introduced Infrastructure Report Cards as one potential tool. Typically, they are used to report on the state of infrastructure at a national level (e.g. the USA), however they could also be used to understand infrastructure needs across a region or globally. Integrating consideration of the SDGs into Infrastructure Report Cards would be one way of identifying how infrastructure in a specific location is supporting progress towards delivery of the SDGs (or conversely, how a lack of quality infrastructure is a barrier). The discussion following Martin’s presentation highlighted the need to consider the links across all the goals to different types of infrastructure, rather than just the obvious ones.

This open mindset was encouraged in an Arup workshop I attended on the opening day of the congress, which set the scene for the week perfectly. In groups we were instructed to choose a goal at random and then consider how an example transport project would contribute to that goal. Transport projects are usually aimed at improving travel time or reducing accidents and collisions, however viewed through the lens of Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being our discussion veered towards improving air quality, the value of active travel for mental health impacts, and the well-being benefits associated with community cohesion and connectivity.

Achieving the SDGs will need a step change and we don’t have a lot of time

The conference was just a week after the IPCC delivered its special report, which stated that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure, and industrial systems” and a reduction in emissions by 45% by 2030.

A comment in one session made the stark observation that we have less time to achieve the SDGs than we have already been using tools like CEEQUAL to improve the sustainability of infrastructure projects (CEEQUAL was launched by the ICE 15 years ago in 2003). The SDGs have a deadline of 2030, which is within the construction and operational timescale of all engineering projects currently in development. Achieving the SDGs and ensuring a sustainable future requires transformational thinking now.

What comes next?

It’s worth repeating that there is a need to turn words into action, and action into impact. The ICE is drawing together the discussions and ideas from the event into an action plan and develop working groups to progress actions from early 2019. It is great to see leadership buy-in from professional institutions, however we also have a responsibility as individual engineers to align our work with the future we want.

This will require a different way of working and is pretty overwhelming at first – after all there are 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators to consider. The first step is to make each decision on a project with consideration of whether it is helping drive the project in a direction that supports one or more of the SDGs. As Marlene Kanga (WFEO President) said in her opening address – ‘We are the change makers. We have the ability to change the world – for better or for worse‘.



Categories: News

Making resilience practical, tangible and relevant at the GEC

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Last month the Institution of Civil Engineers hosted the Global Engineering Congress (GEC) in London. Bringing together over 1,000 people from across the globe, the GEC’s focus this year was how the engineering community can help the UN to deliver its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In front of an audience with global expertise, the Resilience Shift hosted a technical workshop considering how to make resilience tangible, practical and relevant.

We kicked off with a series of presentations. Opening with Juliet Mian, Technical Director at the Resilience Shift who provided an overview of the Resilience Shift – read more about the programme here.

George Beane of Arup’s International Development team then showcased the WaterShare tool that Arup and the City Water Resilience Framework project has been developing for resilient water governance – read more in George’s recent blog here.

Savina Carluccio, Resilience Shift Project Lead, then concluded the presentations by introducing our value-based approach and how it will help us to improve critical infrastructure resilience. Recognising that we can no longer just deliver amazing infrastructure projects, but that we also need to deliver value to end-users. Something that clearly resonates with the delivery of the SDGs.

A value-based approach recognises that there are multiple stakeholders engaged in critical infrastructure, whether they are involved in delivering a new piece of infrastructure, operating and maintaining an existing system, or thinking about the ability of a community to continue to function following a flood event. Each of these has a different value chain, but in each case, there should be a benefit (value) to all stakeholders in enhancing resilience, as well as the ultimate benefit to society. This resilience value represents the golden thread that cuts across all stakeholders in the value chain.







Engaging the audience using an online polling app we asked whether our value-based approach, using the example of a infrastructure lifecycle value chain, was relevant to them. Most attendees agreed that it is. While some told us that they would like to learn more about it. It will therefore be important for us to continue to get the value-based approach across clearly as we move forward. Furthermore, many told us that finance and procurement represented the biggest gaps in the infrastructure resilience value chain.

The workshop concluded with a panel discussion. Chaired by Savina Carluccio, the panel included Kristen MacAskill of Cambridge University, John White of 100 Resilient Cities, and Juliet Mian.

Below are some of the highlights from our lively and engaging discussion:

– When selling resilience, don’t lead with resilience – use common language and provide people with outcomes that are meaningful.

– People have capacity to solve their own problems – people and communities can do great things and we should look to solve problems with people rather than for them. A case study in Oman of flood gates failing was identified, where engineers manually fixed flood gates, showing how the most resilient part of a system can be people knowing what to do.

– Need for innovation – some argued that there isn’t enough space to be creative, and that many are focused on project delivery.

– Countries will have different resilience priorities – highlighting that there will likely be different priorities in developing vs developed countries. One participant stated that it can for example be difficult to get a Mayor in a developing country to implement a cool innovative resilience project when they have been trying to get a bus route for 10 years.

– Resilience isn’t just about strengthening – or the prevention of bad things happening for that matter. You can do the same things in a different way, and build a business case that highlights the secondary and tertiary benefits. This is especially important in countries where finances are constrained. There are also opportunities to arrive at a solution that you never thought you would have at the start e.g. Paris and use of school playing fields for water retention during storm events which has led to the availability of social space.

– Stories of resilience in practice are as important as theory – and numerous examples were shared by the audience and the panel members. We’ve recently seen such stories in a study on the impacts of natural hazards on US natural gas infrastructure.

– We need to educate and inspire future generations – it was stated that we need to talk about the wider context and systems view rather than our traditional siloed approach to individual subject learning. Furthermore, it was argued that engineers need to take a holistic approach to engineering going forward.

– Tools and approaches – recognising that a barrier to their implementation is their visibility and an understanding of how they can contribute to improving the resilience of our infrastructure.

Look out for an upcoming blog on the overall thoughts from the GEC – to make sure you don’t miss it, you can sign up to our blog here.


Categories: Community Events

Using and developing tools to build resilience

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Last week saw us head to Washington DC for the first of our innovative workshops to explore the practical implications of using and developing tools to build resilience in critical infrastructure.

Hosted by 100 Resilient Cities, the workshop was attended by a range of private and non-profit tool developers, alongside tool users and influencers. There was a focus on how tools for building more resilient infrastructure can support the overall resilience strategy for cities.

The day’s first session considered the perspectives of those in demand of tools to help them implement resilience in their projects. Speakers included representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Salvador, and the US. Each speaker brought their own particular challenges, with procurement, siloed thinking, knowledge of assets, stakeholder engagement and valuing resilience coming out as key issues.

The afternoon session offered a chance for developers to share their tools and for users to ask about the value they deliver, creating a dialogue where barriers to adoption were discussed. Tools included:

– CAT-I (Capacity Assessment Tool for Infrastructure) developed by UNOPS.

– EDGE$ developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, US Department of Commerce.

– Resilience Atlas developed by Conservation International.

Resilience Value Realisation developed by ValueLab.

– Thinkhazard! developed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

To conclude the days activities, Savina Carluccio and Igor Linkov provided an overview of the platform that the Resilience Shift is looking to develop which will help to connect tools and approaches with end-users. This resulted in a lively debate with the audience, where our value-chain approach was considered a useful way to approach the challenge of connecting tools with the right individuals. But it was also recognised that disciplines could be another entry point.

Several attendees stated that they often have to adapt tools to work in the local environment that they are operating in. Many times, the problem with tools is that they talk a different language and were designed for different geographies. Therefore, it can be difficult to translate the local challenges. Others suggested that tools are always under development and feedback from users would be important.

There was a dichotomy among attendees of whether developing a platform showcasing tools  should be the primary focus for the Resilience Shift. Some suggested that our focus should be acting as a facilitator to put tools in the hands of end-users, and create a community of practice by leveraging off other established platforms and institutions. While others argued that a repository that provides a crowd-sourced tool rating could provide efficiencies in tool selection. This is something we’ve taken away with us to consider!

We’re planning on running further workshops in the near future. If you are a tool developer or end-user then we’d love to hear from you to see how you might get involved.

Categories: Events

New grantees appointed to develop industry specific resilience primers

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We have today announced the appointment of four new grantees for our global programme to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure.

Four Twenty Seven, Resilient Organisations, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Wood have been commissioned to develop industry-specific primers that will help key players understand what they can do differently to improve resilience in their industry. They will set out the key incentives or other levers that exist for that industry.

Ultimately, the vision of the Resilience Shift is a more resilient world which understands the interconnected nature of modern life and the services on which we all depend. Critical infrastructure systems and their associated industries provide essential services to society.

Ibrahim Almufti, Project Leader, Resilience Shift, said: “Our aim is to shift the needle on resilience practice so that all organisations embed it into their decision-making. To achieve this, we must clearly articulate the value that resilience can bring.”

More about our new grantees

The team at Four Twenty Seven, led by Dr. Yoon Kim, has been commissioned to develop an industry-specific primer focused on the Shipping Sector. With stakeholders including shipping companies, terminal operators, and ports, we cannot afford for this sector to shut down when faced with extreme shocks or stresses.

The team at Resilient Organisations, led by Dr. Tracy Hatton, has been commissioned to develop an industry-specific primer focused on the water sector, namely Potable Water Infrastructure. The delivery of freshwater is critical to safety and wellbeing of everyone.

The team at TRL, led by Dr. Sarah Reeves, has been commissioned to develop an industry-specific primer focused on the transportation sector, namely Roadways and Railways. Substantial impacts to this sector are expected to have direct effects on essential services.

The team at Wood, led by Peter J Hall, has been commissioned to develop an industry-specific primer focused on the Electrical Utilities sector. Utility power stands out as a truly critical infrastructure system. An energy utility that struggles to recover from extreme shocks or stresses could have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of millions of people.

The initial expression of interest closed at the end of August 2018, but the Resilience Shift anticipates continuing this work into 2019. We will welcome future submissions from interested grantees at any time.

Jo da Silva, Acting Programme Director, Resilience Shift, said: “We are engaging directly with industry stakeholders and with those responsible for incentivising resilience for critical infrastructure. The Resilience Shift is a global initiative, we want to develop a common understanding across infrastructure systems globally, and our new grantees are diverse both geographically and in their target sector.”

Categories: News

Building understanding with contributions from across the globe this October

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The 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum took place in Manila, Philippines, and was a place to share lessons and experiences on ‘enabling resilience for all’. Juliet Mian, Resilience Shift Technical Director, discussed (virtually) the role of digital transformation of infrastructure systems in Climate Smart Cities. Further insight into this event and the resilience challenges for this region can be found in this guest blog by Belinda Hewitt.

In Sydney, Australia, Rob Turk, leader of our work on ‘mainstreaming critical infrastructure resilience through policy and standards’, attended the infrastructure resilience session of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s Annual Conference and Awards.

In London, we headed to the Global Engineering Congress (GEC) whose focus was on understanding the role that the engineering community can play to support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A report by the University of Oxford-led Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium and UNOPS launched at the GEC stresses that infrastructure is key to unlocking the SDGs, drawing on case studies from UNOPS projects around the world. It highlights the pivotal role that infrastructure has in delivering the SDGs for a sustainable and resilient future.

The Resilience Shift hosted a technical workshop on ‘Making resilience practical, tangible and relevant’. Savina Carluccio introduced our value-based approach, and how this will help us to improve critical infrastructure resilience. George Beane presented an overview of our WaterShare tool, the new name for the web-based tool we are developing in partnership with the City Water Resilience Framework to map resilient water governance.

Presentations were followed by a panel session including John White of 100 Resilient Cities, Kristen MacAskill of Cambridge University and Juliet Mian. We were thrilled to have such lively engagement with the audience, who showed support towards our value-chain approach through recognition of their own challenges.

Later that day, Juliet represented Resilience Shift in a panel session on the topic of ‘Sustainability in an interconnected world’. Fellow panellists included Elspeth Finch MBE (CEO IAND) and Mark Enzer (CTO, Mott MacDonald). The session was chaired by Craig Lucas (Director of Science and Innovation for Climate and Energy Directorate, UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).

In Washington DC, we were excited to kick-off the first of our workshops on resilience ‘tools and approaches’. These are designed to connect tool developers and potential users to help us understand gaps between what exists and what users need. This first workshop was convened by 100 Resilient Cities on behalf of the Resilience Shift. The stream of tweets with views and quotes from the day gives us a hint of the insight gained by -participants. Our next workshop will be in New Orleans in November convened by Global Infrastructure Basel (GIB).

Resilience round up

In our monthly roundup of new, interesting and relevant things that have come to our attention this month, here are some of the key things we found:

– The Institution of Civil Engineers has published a new book on ‘Critical Infrastructures Resilience: Policy Engineering and Principles’.

– The American Society of Civil Engineers published a new manual of practice on ‘Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Adaptive design and risk management’.

– The World Bank published guidance on ‘Transport Sector Recovery: Opportunities to Build Resilience’.

– In their October edition of ‘Voices on Infrastructure’ series, the Global Infrastructure Initiative by McKinsey and Company published their ‘Future-proofing infrastructure in a fast-changing world report, with insights from organisations including the ASCE and the Centre for Liveable Cities.

– As part of the Autumn Budget statement in the UK, the National Infrastructure Commission has announced a study on the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure systems – the momentum around our topic area continues to grow!

– Arup recently published their report on ‘Making the total value case for investment: In infrastructure and the built environment’.

– Lloyd’s of London published an innovation report on ‘Innovative finance for resilience infrastructure‘. We are reviewing this to see what we can learn for our activities in workstream 2.

– We liked the CIRI webinar on ‘Dynamic resiliency modelling and planning for interdependent critical infrastructures which is relevant to our outcome statement on dynamic performance based design.

Join the Resilience Shift conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn and sign up to our blog so you don’t miss out on posts like these. If you have an idea and want to get involved with the Resilience Shift, then we’d love to hear from you – please see our website.

Categories: News Spotlight

Introducing WaterShare – promoting collaborative water governance

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A new digital resilient water governance tool, WaterShare, was introduced at the Global Engineering Congress 2018 through a presentation by George Beane from the City Water Resilience Framework. It is being developed by the Resilience Shift and the City Water Resilience Framework in partnership with SIWI and OECD. You can read George’s slides here or read the feature below which explains more about the development of the tool, the related work and plans for next year. 

Water governance is complicated, and especially complicated for cities. Natural hydrologic cycles do not fit neatly into administrative boundaries, and this makes governance quite complicated.

We know all this, because over the past year we’ve worked closely with eight cities around the world – Cape Town, Mexico City, Miami, Amman, Thessaloniki, Manchester, Rotterdam and Hull. We’ve talked with over 700 participants during 10 workshops, and 38 structured interviews.

Throughout this process, it has become apparent how critical the role of governance is in building resilience and has raised many questions about how relationships, between government, the private sector and civil society, foster resilience?

To better understand governance, the City Water Resilience Framework has worked closely with the Resilience Shift and partnered with the Stockholm International Water Institute and the OECD, who are both international leaders in this field.

Throughout this engagement we’ve heard a number of things that inform how we think about building resilience. Specifically related to water governance, over and over we hear that there is a real need for collaboration, for sharing information across departments, between levels of government and between critical sectors.

We know that the climate is changing. We also know that the world’s population is growing and, simultaneously becoming more urbanized. The combined consequence of these three facts, is that risk is increasingly concentrated in cities and will become even more so over the next century.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, we can expect an increase in urban flooding, which will affect growing numbers of people. The way flooding plays out in the UK is very different than Manila. The resources available to address these challenges, the appropriateness of potential solutions, these things vary according to context. As do the hazards that will be confronted in each place. For instance: flooding in Manila and the UK. Drought in Cape Town. Water pollution in Mexico City. The list goes on. And, of course cities confront multiple shocks and stresses, often at the same time.

Further complicating this is the fact that cities are themselves made up of complex systems that interact with other systems. So, water infrastructure relies on energy infrastructure. Energy is the obvious one, but water is tied to transportation systems, waste management, public health, policing, telecommunications, etc

The question of collaborative governance is one key challenge we’ve identified. Together with our partners we have been developing a tool to help address this particular challenge.

Our Resilient Water Governance tool, which is called WaterShare, is a digital, desk-top based application. It allows users to answer the questions

  • What are the natural and man-made elements that make up the water system?
  • How do these interact with each other?
  • And which actors are involved?”

It does this by helping users map out all the elements of their urban water system – how a lake is connected to a water plant, which supplies water to a certain part of the city, for example.

Each box on the screen represents some asset in the system – a river or a treatment plant or an end user. The lines show connections between these assets.

You can customize the tool for your city, adding the particular features that are relevant to you. For example, coastal defences might be relevant to Rotterdam but obviously wouldn’t be for landlocked Mexico City.

The user can also see which assets will likely be affected by different stresses or shocks. You can interrogate each individual asset. Where is major piece of infrastructure located? Who owns it? And see which stakeholders are involved in managing these and in what capacity.

This last piece is critical because it speaks most directly the role of governance in determining the health of a system. Are there roles that need to be filled that aren’t? Are there too many organizations involved in one particular role?


You can map relationships between actors with the lines and boxes showing all the stakeholders involved in the water system.

The thicker lines refer to stronger relationships. i.e. where there are organizations involved in the same asset or connected in the system. And you can select for one of those organizations to see how it relates to the rest.

The power of this is the potential to reveal latent relationships, to show where there is overlap in the remit of different organizations but perhaps these organizations are not actually speaking with each other

We’ve followed three guiding principles to inform the process of building solutions to help our city partners.

  • First tools must be practical, meaning, they need to be low cost in terms of time and resources and technological sophistication. If not, users will find something that’s more convenient and they’ll use that instead, or they’ll just go back to what they were doing before.
  • Second, tools need to be flexible, meaning whether we’re talking about London or Manila, the tool has to provide insights to users., there’s a danger of going too far here; too much flexibility could mean that we – meaning the project partners — give up our own perspective about what we believe actually drives resilience.
  • Finally, tools should be multi-sectoral. Meaning, they can be used by government, private sector, academia. We have worked closely with government, but this is not our only audience, and in some cities, it may not even be the right actor to push for resilience. It’s critical that the tool can be adopted by anyone who wants to use it.


This work – not just the tool itself, but the broader project of defining and building resilience – has itself really embraced a collaborative approach, not only with our project partners, Arup, The Resilience Shift, SIWI, OECD but also with the cities themselves.

Having close partnerships has been absolutely fundamental to this work. And we have and continue to see this as an iterative process, a process of co-learning, testing and refining.

We are happy to work with new partners and collaborators and to share our experiences building this tool. You can contact us via [email protected]

Other outputs will be derived from this work including the eight Cities Reports to be published later this year. From the next stages planned for 2019 we’ll be building on the model of the City Resilience Index, with the development of a water resilience Framework Assessment Tool being developed as part of the City Water Resilience Framework.

A beta version of WaterShare is planned to be ready for testing next year.

Categories: Events News

Building resilience means making room for failure – APAN 2018

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Belinda HewittGuest blogger, Belinda Hewitt is a Senior Consultant with Arup International Development who is currently based in Manila supporting the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF). She attended the 6th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation (APAN) forum in Manila and writes for us about her experience.

Last week I joined around one thousand others to share lessons and experiences on ‘enabling resilience for all’ at the 6th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation forum in Manila. As APAN kicked off, only a few hundred kilometres away the northern Philippines provinces had begun a long journey towards recovery following the severe impacts of last month’s Super Typhoon Mangkhut.

Since the beginning of 2018 alone Asia Pacific has experienced seven Super Typhoons, a series of major earthquakes and a devastating tsunami. Last month’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C is a sobering warning of the impacts yet to come, particularly for those of us who live in the world’s most disaster prone region.

The critical role which infrastructure can play in supporting, protecting, or undermining human life and wellbeing is obvious in Manila’s dense, sprawling cityscape. The growing infrastructure deficit certainly makes my commute a nightmare, but the real impacts are felt by the city’s most poor and vulnerable. Lack of infrastructure and basic services is a chronic stress which affects health, restricts livelihoods, and undermines efforts to rise out of poverty. At worst the built environment can itself pose a severe hazard. The collapse of a hydroelectric dam construction project in Laos in July this year, likely due to human error, caused widespread disruption, loss of life and left over 6,000 people displaced.

Many important lessons were shared at APAN this year. One message that resounds strongly in the wake of Mangkhut and other extreme events is how some form of failure can be inevitable under extreme conditions, and we must step up our efforts to anticipate, plan and design with failure in mind.

Dr Juliet Mian, Technical Director of the Resilience Shift, has been leading research on the impact of digital transformation on infrastructure systems. During a plenary on Climate Smart Cities Juliet highlighted how smart systems can inform and build resilience, but tend to be complex and tightly coupled – and therefore “have the potential to cause fragility and vulnerability”.

This can lead to cascading impacts, where one small failure has unpredictable and far-reaching (sometimes global) consequences. Infrastructure owners, designers and operators must make conscious efforts to ‘balance resilience with the benefits of digital systems.’ For example, by providing low technology back-up systems and working across sector silos to identify, prevent, and plan for potential failure.

Mark Fletcher, Arup’s Global Water Leader, gave a keynote address for APAN’s Industry and Built Environment stream, co-hosted by Arup and the Asian Development Bank. He emphasised “how important it is to look at a basin-wide approach to water resilience sharing the work Arup is doing with the Rockefeller Foundation on development of the City Water Resilience Framework and with the Resilience Shift on the Water Governance tool with pilot global cities including Cape Town, Miami, Amman, Mexico, Thessaloniki, Hull, Rotterdam, and Manchester.”

He also highlighted “the need for developing organisational coping strategies, critical resources and supply chain arrangements to reduce loss of life and minimise damage for when infrastructure robustness has fallen short either through design exceedance or failure.”

As a built environment practitioner, I share the drive to ensure our critical infrastructure systems are planned, designed and constructed to withstand the most severe impacts. Knowledge and technology to achieve this is improving over time, but struggling to keep pace with the growing impacts and uncertainty of climate change, urban growth, and digital transformation. A report I co-authored with Lloyd’s of London last year highlights how  we must step up our efforts to find practical solutions which accommodate potential failure. This includes designing systems which fail ‘safe’ with minimal damage and loss of life, while ensuring plans and resources in place expedite recovery.

These messages are not new, but often overlooked. They are particularly important in the world’s most fragile lower-income countries, where finance and resources for ‘future-proofing’ are most scarce.

In northern Luzon, early reports suggest lessons from the deadly impacts of Typhoon Fengshen (2008) and Super Typhoon Haiyan (2013) may have informed better preparedness, evacuation and recovery efforts which reduced damage and loss of life. Though it often comes at too high a cost, failure provides us an important opportunity to transform the way we plan, design, and manage infrastructure systems to ensure a more resilient future for all.

Categories: Events

Does a resilience shift require the end of competitive advantage and free market economics?

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Louise Ellis, water engineer at the Resilience Shift and Arup, interviewed Amanda Janoo at this August’s Stockholm World Water Week 2018 on alternative economic thinking around the resilience challenges for economic and industrial policy including diversification, intervention, and balance.

Amanda Janoo is an Alternative Economic Policy Expert advising governments and the United Nations.

Her advice on policy has particular reference to issues of diversification, value addition, inequality reduction and employment generation. She specialises in a holistic approach to industrial policy design that considers economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, to ensure context-appropriate and complementary policies which are in line with larger national objectives.

You can see what she suggests will be making a difference in the short interview below.

The value of resilience is a hot topic globally and the Resilience Shift recently debated the value of resilience at our Global Knowledge Exchange event. You can watch the debate here. It raised a number of challenges that begged the question of how to increase the perceived value of resilience in particular with asset owners and funders.

What do you think about the resilience challenges for policy? Do we need to change the prevalent economic thinking to achieve the shift in resilience thinking and practice that we will need to make the world a safer and better place?

Tell us what you think in the comments or by emailing us at [email protected]. Or get involved in the debate on twitter or linkedin.

For more about urban and water resilience, search our blogs for updates from World Water Week.

Categories: Knowledge Spotlight

Helping to deliver the SDGs at the Global Engineering Congress

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Our activities at the Resilience Shift are helping to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We are achieving this by fostering a programme of global change that will lead to a safer and better world through resilient infrastructure.

October’s Global Engineering Congress, held this year at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, has the UN SDGs at its core. The congress wants to understand how the engineering community can help to promote sustainable and resilient practices through their work.

We’re delighted to not only be attending the congress’s five days of lively debate, but also contributing to the event. See the programme.

We kick off with a workshop on Thursday 25 October between 10.30-12.00, where we will show how we can work towards ‘Making resilience practical, tangible and relevant’.

The session will introduce the critical infrastructure value chain, and highlight the diverse range of stakeholders. We’ll give insight into our project on tools and approaches that are available for valuing resilience. We’ll also demonstrate a resilience tool developed for the water sector. Coupled with a lively online poll, panel and Q&A session, to incorporate the wealth of expertise at the conference, it should be an interesting event.

On the same day, our technical director, Juliet Mian will be participating in a panel session at 16.00. The panel will approach the question of ‘Maximising the application of sustainability solutions in an interconnected world’. Juliet will sit alongside Mark Enzer, CTO at Mott MacDonald.

We look forward to seeing some of you there! Remember, you can follow the debate, wherever you are, using #GlobalEngineeringCongress or #SDGs; and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Categories: Events

Shifting major project practices to safeguard society’s critical services

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What can major projects do to shift their practices? See the report and presentation from Will Goode at the Major Projects Association Annual Conference 2018.

This year’s MPA Conference highlights included Lord Heseltine stressing the importance of a strong pipeline of projects, allowing some to fail and, accepting that, then replacing the failures with new projects and supporting those that succeed. This sounds similar to the 4Ex model that the Resilience Shift has adopted to guide the development of our portfolio of projects over time – see our ideas pipeline.

Claire Durkin from The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spoke of the importance of UK companies and UK government communicating and working together to address global challenges and global opportunities. There was also a stimulating discussion on the use of professional institutions to communicate news and ideas from research to the practitioner community.

Dr Anita Sengupta (pictured above right) talked about her involvement in start-up Virgin Hyperloop One who have built the world’s first hyperloop test track in the Nevada desert. She also highlighted the importance of flexibility and modularity being built in to prepare for the unexpected. All characteristics of resilient systems.

Will Goode’s workshop session explored the link between major projects and critical infrastructure resilience and how we might shift major project practices to safeguard society’s critical services.

His introduction explained how the Resilience Shift is trying to shift the focus of professionals from infrastructure assets to systems, the challenges of efficiency versus resilience and the importance of resilient systems continuing to deliver critical services in the face of unexpected shocks and stresses.

We define the Resilience Shift as a global initiative to catalyse resilience within and between critical infrastructure sectors and fittingly, Dr Martin Barnes CBE, Former Executive Director of the Major Projects Association also used that term when defining the nature of major projects:

“Major projects are so complex that they require cross-disciplinary collaboration of the highest order – within and between companies and cultures – before they can be implemented successfully.”

The link between resilience and major projects is clear. In one way or another, MPA members contribute to the delivery and successful operation of critical infrastructure systems every day, and we know these systems will be subject to unexpected shocks and stresses.

At the Resilience Shift, we believe that an awareness and understanding of the tools and approaches that can make a resilient approach more practical/tangible/relevant, might be a good thing for all those involved with major projects. Wherever their decisions and actions contribute to the project lifecycle they will have the opportunity to add ‘resilience value‘.

30 MPA Conference delegates participated in an exercise to identify potential drivers of change that might impact major programmes in the short, medium and long term. Participants then committed to a variety of immediate and long term actions to increase resilience in response and captured in an informal wallchart grid.





You can read Will’s presentation here.



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