Cross-sector understanding, transferring learning and sharing good practice

Juliet Mian, Technical Director, reflects on the start of 2020 for The Resilience Shift.

We’ve started the year by asking questions that can inform our future work and build on what we have already achieved. It’s interesting to reflect on our work to date and to see the same questions and challenges existing across very different sectors and settings, whether we are seeking to influence policy, shape practice or share learning.

To explore the need for cross-sector understanding of the resilience of water and energy systems, we brought together, in partnership with Resilience First, guests representing regulatory bodies, utilities operators and asset owners for water and power.

The key question was how can we share best practice across infrastructure sectors and what lessons can we learn from each other?

The wide-ranging panel and audience discussions highlighted the need for collaboration; the importance of systems thinking to understand increasing complexity, and explored strategic responses to challenges such as how to prioritise investing in resilience measures. For me, the common challenges between sectors was further evidence of the importance of an integrated approach towards resilience, and the need to overcome fragmentation in decision making.  An overview of the event can be found here.

I am delighted that the latest products from work we supported in 2019, a series of learning modules sharing different reflections of Cape Town’s water crisis, are now available for viewing, learning, facilitating conversations, or sharing with your teams. Register here to use them.

We think there is something for everyone to learn from these films.  Please get in touch if you have any comments or feedback.

We are  co-hosting a session this week at the World Urban Forum in partnership with the Dutch Government and the Global Resilient Cities Network. Martin Shouler is sharing the progress of the City Water Resilience Approach alongside the Water as Leverage initiative. Both innovative approaches support cities in developing and implementing integrated urban water resilience planning and investment.

In 2020, we want to look in greater depth at critical infrastructure sectors, seeking to transfer learning where appropriate, and move towards a common understanding of resilience, within and between sectors. To this end, I recently attended the International Energy Agency’s Electricity Security workshop in Paris, France, and the World Road Association’s Technical Committee meeting on ‘Climate change and resilience of roads networks’.

The IEA event highlighted the changing energy mix toward increased renewables, resilience to climate change, and the issue of cyber-security. The future energy system is likely to be more distributed, more flexible, but with more potential for intermittency.  Digital technology is a fundamental part of the future energy ‘eco-system’, which is why cyber-security is at the top of the agenda.  One of my takeaways was the importance of a holistic approach to the future challenges, in order to deliver not only a smart, clean energy mix, but also one that is resilient to all shocks and stresses, from climate change to cyber-attack as well as all the other things that are not in the headlines at the moment.

We can’t miss the opportunity to make sure resilience is at the heart of decision-making across the energy sector. We know from our work in the water sector the significant value of a holistic, multi-stakeholder approach to strategic decision-making.

The roads sector is also going through transition, towards electric, connected vehicles, and ever-increasing use of digital technologies. It’s the perfect opportunity to make sure that the common understanding exists between sectors, but there’s also a sense of urgency to make sure we don’t miss it.

As part of our desire to inspire change, we want to share the good work of others to help us all see what good can look like for resilient infrastructure.

We have partnered with Acclimatise to develop a case study on resilience in practice, sharing a technical assistance project in India supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). It tells the story of what good practice looks like for resilient infrastructure and how it tackles the needs of some of the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

With over 900 resilient infrastructure works delivered in just 4 years, the Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth in India (ICRG) project has cleverly combined technology with traditional techniques to ensure that the assets build community resilience to climate change and can be built and maintained by the communities themselves.

It is very inspiring and we congratulate all those involved in this project.

 

Things we like this month:

The Editor’s Pick of Infrastructure for resilience tools and resources on Climatelinks

The IEEE Systems Journal’s paper on Engineering Resilient Complex Systems: The Necessary Shift Toward Complexity Science by Giuliano Punzo , Anurag Tewari, Eugene Butans, Massimiliano Vasile , Alan Purvis, Martin Mayfield, and Liz Varga

McKinsey Global Institute report: ‘Climate Risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic response’

Measuring Three Rs of Electric Energy Efficiency: Risk, Reliability, and Resilience. A report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

American Planning Association Report: Planning for Infrastructure Resilience

Managing the impacts of climate change risk management responses second edition, Zurich recommends developing and acting upon a climate resilience adaption strategy.

The case for … making low-tech ‘dumb’ cities instead of ‘smart’ ones. The Guardian – as part of its farewell to Guardian Cities. High-tech smart cities promise efficiency by monitoring everything from bins to bridges. But what if we ditched the data and embraced ancient technology instead?

And of course, we can’t forget the 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report (2020). For the first time in its 15-year history, the 2020 Global Risks Report labels one category of risk as the most likely to have lasting impacts: climate change.

 

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