Sharing our learning on urban water resilience with young water professionals

Cities around the world are going through extreme water challenges, ranging from flooding and drought, poor water quality to a lack of sufficient infrastructure.

This is something young water professionals say they care deeply about, and they want to understand what they can do to address these problems. The City Water Resilience Approach is one of the keys to tackling these challenges, while learning from other cities can help city leaders to better anticipate and plan resilient water systems.

Over 90 early career water specialists working across East Asia came together by teleconference facilitated by local workshops hosted in Arup offices.

Facilitated by Eleanor Earl, former Resilience Shift project leader, in partnership with young colleagues across East Asia, their focus was on the challenges around SDG6 – the sixth Sustainable Development Goal to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

The gathering provided the opportunity to explore city water resilience through the lens of the City Water Resilience Approach and to understand the topic and its importance for cities. After an introduction on the subject by Sam Stratton-Short, formerly Programme Manager on the Resilience Shift and now leading resilience projects for Arup from the Philippines, the participants looked at the example of Cape Town, South Africa.

They watched some of the filmed reflections on the Cape Town water crisis, capturing lessons learned, as part of the resources produced by the Resilience Shift’s partnership with Cape Town Drought Response Film Library. One participant from Cape Town spoke of his personal experience of living through the drought.

Cape Town is one of the first cities to work through and pilot the City Water Resilience Approach, contributing their input and experience along the way, and supporting the development of the Approach. As a city with many water challenges, and the experience of tackling them alongside promoting reduced water consumption and changes in consumer behaviour, it is well placed to inspire and advise other cities.

Participants also heard about innovative work in Shanghai that is improving resilience through adopting nature-based solutions, sponge city principles and sustainable drainage techniques.

Anthony Wang, Beijing, said, “The City Water Resilience workshop was well designed and was very illuminating. The Fundamentals of City Water Resilience gave us a comprehensive understanding of the concept of resilience. The Cape Town Drought case made us aware of extreme water disasters that may happen in Beijing and got us thinking about how to learn from the crisis in Cape Town. Moreover, the Shanghai Drainage Master Plan case study gave us a good example of how to help improve City Water Resilience. All participants were deeply inspired and hope to integrate the concept of City Water Resilience into our projects in the future.”

Eleanor Earl, Hong Kong, said, “The session used online polls to capture what water resilience means to all of us and the cities we live in, and helping us to recognise the diverse water resilience challenges facing our region and its cities”.

SDG6 workshop - Hong Kong
SDG6 workshop – Hong Kong
SDG6 workshop - Beijing
SDG6 workshop – Beijing
SDG6 workshop - Shenzhen
SDG6 workshop – Shenzhen

Thank you to Eleanor Earl (Hong Kong), for sharing this perspective with us.

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