Working with pioneers – Stockholm International Water Institute

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has been a partner of the Resilience Shift for its portfolio of work on water resilience. With a sustained focus of work during 2018 and 2019, the water sector now is leading the way in the thinking around urban resilience and the role the water system plays.

At the policy level, this collaboration has begun to show impact and together with our other lead partners such as Dr Fred Boltz and Arup, has played a key part in influencing global policy through putting the resilience paradigm into the water sector at the highest levels. This influence activity has involved building understanding and adoption of resilience concepts, measures, design approaches and investment guidance in the water sector and beyond to the broader development community.

The Open letter ‘Building a Resilient Future through Water’ in April 2018 set the stage for this collaborative action from the water sector. It recommended resilient water management to fulfil the needs of global agendas, addressing the risks and challenges for national and city-led engagement and focusing on providing clarity on the next steps required.

Throughout 2018, this partnership across the water sector was highly influential at a number of global forums – including the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) pre consultation in May, the HPLF itself in July, SIWI’s World Water Week (WWW) in August, the UN General Assembly meeting in September, the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Sustainable development’ conference in October and the COP24 meeting in December –consistently bringing the concept of building a resilient future through water to the table.

The Open letter has been very instrumental throughout 2018 and into 2019, with numerous organisations and institutions signing the letter. This has opened up the link between sustainable development and climate change with an integrated and holistic approach to water at the core.

Maggie White, Senior Manager of International Policy, SIWI, and the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation co-chair, said, “It is gaining momentum compared to the Integrated Water Management approach which some see as too stationary and not offering enough options for a multi sectorial and stakeholder approach”.

“Whereas in previous years the term ‘resilience’ was not on the radar of the water community, it has gained momentum over the past two years and is identified as a potential means to adapting and mitigating risks and transforming implementation practice to achieve sustainable societies” said Maggie.

SIWI has also taken a lead with the water sector’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During Stockholm World Water Week 2018 the High-Level Dialogue session “SDG- Paris agreement: Building a resilient future through water” addressed water resilience as a paradigm for fulfilling our common agenda for sustainable development. The session was recorded and was co-convened with The Resilience Shift.

“The ‘Building a resilient future through water’ session at WWW ‘has become a landmark moment to take stock and initiate new pathways and processes”, said Maggie.

As well as numerous discussions during 2019 building on the work of 2018, this year’s WWWeek Building a resilient future through water’ session will also be a highlight of the programme and will continue to act as a catalyst for meaningful water resilience dialogue and for joined up efforts.

Maggie said, “We really try with our High-Level Dialogue sessions to bring people together who don’t usually come to the WWWeek or who aren’t usually able to be in dialogue.”

“From a policy perspective, we reach out to other communities and to decision makers, trying to raise awareness with ministers working on the SDGs and the climate agendas within their countries. We bring in representatives of upcoming global conferences or decision-making arenas such as the Conference of Parties (COP) or the High Level Political Forum that takes place in New York for the 2030 agenda.”

“The second part is about how we implement policy and a lot of this implementation happens at the city level, so we reach out to decision-makers such as Mayors. They don’t necessarily have a water portfolio, but if we can raise awareness of the importance of water in urban planning, we can prevent some of the problems or difficulties they have. We are therefore putting the focus on bringing city decision-makers to WWWeek so they can engage more with the water community and see the added value they have in better integrating water issues in their urban planning.”

The High-Level Dialogue: Building a resilience future through water is jointly convened by SIWI and the Resilience Shift with Maggie White, Dr Fred Boltz and Louise Ellis leading the two-part session along with other key industry figures. It takes place on Thursday 29 August 2019 from 09.00-12.30.

With thanks to Maggie White, SIWI.

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