This content was originally published on The Resilience Shift website. The Resilience Shift, a 5-year programme supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and hosted by Arup, transitioned at the end of 2021 to become Resilience Rising. You can read more about The Resilience Shift’s journey and the transition to Resilience Rising here.

The Resilience Shift is delighted to announce the launch of a Water Security Journal Special Issue: Building Resilience through Water  that offers a solutions-focused exploration of how to navigate our changing climate and uncertain future.

This series of peer-reviewed papers sets out a conceptual framework and mathematical approach to designing for resilience, supported by a portfolio of applied research on water dependent systems and communities. Edited by Drs. Brian Richter, and Fred Boltz, the Special Issue highlights how fresh water serves as a defining element of human and natural systems and may thereby offer a pathway to understanding and navigating climate and Earth system change. The series examines the thesis that the challenges inherent in managing water offers a window into the broader, complex challenge of designing and managing for the resilience of human systems and immediate solutions to this challenge.

Dr Fred Boltz conceived and led development of the Special Issue.  Fred is Water Lead for the Global Center on Adaptation and an Ambassador for the Resilience Shift.  He has led central pieces of the Resilience Shift’s work on urban water resilience in collaboration with Arup, 100 Resilient Cities, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the World Bank, and numerous others.

Building Resilience through Water considers what underpins freshwater resilience and how broader, human system resilience may be charted and navigated through water. A conceptual framework articulating the central thesis of the series now online: Water is a Master Variable: Solving for Resilience in the Modern Era, by Fred Boltz and Alex Martinez with leading resilience scientists (Carl Folke and Johan Rockström), freshwater ecologists (LeRoy Poff and John Matthews), water and resilience engineers (Nancy Kete, Casey Brown, Sarah Freeman).

Translating the thesis to application in different sectors and across scales forms the core of this Special Issue, including modeling, metrics and applications to water infrastructure, cities, energy systems and to the water cycle at regional and planetary scale. Human dimensions of adapting to global change and building resilience are explored in two essays. The full series includes:

  • Resilience by Design: a Deep Uncertainty Approach for Water Systems in a Changing World translates the concept to a mathematical model to inform infrastructure design and investment decisions, by Casey Brown, Fred Boltz, Sarah Freeman of U. Massachusetts, Amherst (UMA) Hydrosystems Group with Jackie Tront and Diego Rodriguez of the World Bank Water global practice.
  • Water Resilience by Design in Mexico City explores the application of this approach to inform design of the Mexico City and Valley of Mexico water system, by Sarah St. George Freeman and Casey Brown of the UMA Hydrosystems Group with local partners from Mexico City, U. Cincinnati and the World Bank.
  • Resilience of Water Resource Systems: Lessons from England considers applications of our thesis to UK infrastructure and the UK perspective, by Jim Hall and Edoardo Borgomeo of Oxford University, Alexa Bruce of UMA Hydrosystems Group, and Manuela Di Mauro and Mohammad Mortazavi-Naeini of the UK National Infrastructure Commission.
  • Planning for sustained Water-Electricity Resilience over the US extends application of the thesis beyond water, exploring relevance to the energy sector and coupled water-electricity dynamics, by Nathalie Voisin and Michael Kintner-Meyer, of the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with Vince Tidwell, US Sandia National Laboratories and Fred Boltz.
  • Invisible Water Security: Moisture Recycling and Water Resilience explores Earth system interactions and implications of atmospheric moisture recycling changes for forests and dryland ecosystems, agriculture production, river flows, and water supplies in megacities. Stockholm Resilience Center scientists Pat Keys, Miina Porkka, Lan Wang-Erlandsson, Ingo Fetzer, Tom Gleeson and Line Gordon authored this important review.
  • Shifting Currents: Managing Freshwater Systems for Ecological Resilience in a Changing Climate considers key attributes and aspects of resilience in natural freshwater systems, by Ted Grantham of U. California-Berkeley, John Matthews of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, and Brian Bledsoe of U. Georgia.

Two forthcoming 2020 pieces will complete the Special Issue. These works reflect upon the deeply human element of building resilience through water, considering implications for major cities and for shared water in Africa’s transboundary river basins:

The Special Issue has been a signature effort of the Resilience Shift, in our effort to advance resilience science building for the improved design and management of critical infrastructure and to fuel knowledge-building and networking to strengthen our global response to changing futures.

Find out more:
Building Resilience through Water
Water Security Journal


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