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.

Participants from local government, NGOs and the private sector attended the 2019 ICLEI Resilient Cities conference last week in Bonn, Germany.

During the three-day event, a delegation representing the Resilience Shift, presented OurWater, a Resilience Shift-sponsored digital tool that helps cities visualise often complicated governance arrangements for resource management in urban water catchments.

Learning from all your stakeholders

OurWater fit well with a general theme that emerged from this year’s conference, which emphasised efforts to improve water governance and ensure holistic approaches to building the water sector’s ability to withstand and respond to disasters. At the same time, the app hits on another key topic from the conference: a need to balance technical and non-technical knowledge and engage with experts as well as non-specialist audiences.

OurWater is part of the City Water Resilience Approach that has been developed in response to cities’ needs for tools and approaches to help them and their stakeholders navigate the process of building resilience. Supported by the Resilience Shift and the Rockefeller Foundation, this new Approach was developed by Arup and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) with support from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. It includes resources that will help the cities carry out each step of the process.

Open the OurWater App.

Learning from other cities

One key lesson from the conference relates to the roles that cities can play in teaching each other valuable lessons around building resilience. These lessons do not only travel in one direction: many of the most innovative tools and approaches presented over the three-day conference were pioneered in less developed states by government and civil society organisations facing pressing needs with limited resources at their disposal.

While much of the professional community in the UK, Europe and the United States rightly emphasises the need for knowledge-sharing and learning across borders, these networks sometimes omit practitioners working in other regions of the world.

One valuable message from Bonn is that cities in the Global South (including not just large, but also small and medium-sized cities) can suggest new models of resilience to cities in the north.

Another takeaway is the need for robust, and widespread communities of practice and networks to support this learning. New platforms can help cities begin the process of building resilience and identify partners to help them in this journey.

Find out more about OurWater

Find out more about the City Water Resilience Approach


With thanks to George Beane, Arup.


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