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.

We have developed a water governance approach and associated tools for resilient water systems to improve the resilience of the urban water system. A city water resilience community of practice has been announced for interested parties.


We wanted to encourage collaboration between stakeholders on the implementation of water policies to improve resilience, and develop tools to assist them to do this effectively. This project aimed to ensure all our water governance work takes a resilience lens.

At 2019 World Water Week, a global call to action was announced inviting organisations to get involved in a community of practice for urban water resilience. At the same time, our water resilience work has achieved successful implementation of the City Water Resilience Approach in the first two cities – Greater Miami and the Beaches, and Cape Town. The City Water Resilience Approach was developed in response to cities’ needs for tools and approaches to help them and their stakeholders navigate the process of building resilience.

It was developed to be a robust peer-reviewed approach with custom-designed tools designed to benefit those making decisions to assure water resilience for their city. Its development began with a two-day framing workshop with project grantees defining the project and co-creating a definition of success with associated milestones and decision gateways. In depth research was followed by fieldwork with 700 people from five cities, and remote engagement with a further three cities. This learning was brought together at the Global Knowledge Exchange (GKE) in August 2018 that provided essential input and information for the development of the City Water Resilience Approach and the validation of the digital collaboration tool OurWater. Follow up fieldwork with Cape Town and Greater Miami has led to implementation of this approach for these first two cities.

“We’re excited about continuing to forge the path to a more resilient water supply and management approach in the spirit and recognition of our unique interconnected and interdependent ‘one water’ system. The City Water Resilience Approach fosters collaboration, a priority echoed by stakeholders during the fieldwork engagement process.”

Hardeep Anand, Deputy Director, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department


Outcomes from this project are included in the City Water Resilience Approach.

Supported by The Resilience Shift and the Rockefeller Foundation, this approach and suite of tools has been developed by Arup and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) with support from 100 Resilient Cities, OECD and the World Bank. These resources are now available online to download along with the individual reports for Amman, Cape Town, Hull, Manchester, Mexico City, Miami, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki.

The City Water Resilience five-step Approach and suite of resources helps cities to collaboratively build resilience to local water challenges. Eight cities with different water concerns contributed to its development.

A changing climate coupled with rapid urbanisation has resulted in unpredictable rainfall, flooding, droughts and other water-related shocks and stresses on cities. The City Water Resilience Approach can inform how water programmes and projects are planned, designed, implemented and maintained to improve outcomes for urban populations who rely safe water systems for their health and wellbeing. It can be used by public and private organisations including cities, utility companies, local and national government bodies, and other stakeholders.

Project Leaders

Louise Ellis

Louise is a Senior Civil Engineer who has worked on water resilience and sustainable development projects worldwide. She is committed to driving a positive change in global water management and has worked on numerous award-winning schemes.

Eleanor Earl

Eleanor is a civil and environmental engineer with experience in infrastructure design, and specialist expertise in the relationship of water management with digital transformation, sustainable development and resilience.

How are we doing this?

  • Raising awareness of the stakeholders involved in the water catchment and need for collaboration
  • Highlighting the impact on individual stakeholders and the governance system during shocks and stresses.
  • Developing an approach to align resilience goals across stakeholders to allow for collaborative action on resilience initiatives.
  • Helping enable the development of resilience in water policies

What are the outputs?

Publishing peer reviewed reports and guidance and achieving the soft launch of the tool, now known as OurWater.

The City Water Resilience Approach has been disseminated and tested at key events including:


Supported by the Resilience Shift and the Rockefeller Foundation, the City Water Resilience Approach was developed by Arup and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) with support from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It includes resources that will help the cities carry out each step of the process.

SIWI is supporting the governance section of the UN Synthesis Report, by developing a framework for governance analysis across the SDG6 and supporting analysis and recommendations. In 2017, it produced guidance for resource governance in connected river basin-coastal areas, for Global Environmental Facility investments and a conceptual framework for source-to-sea governance.

Arup has launched the City Water Resilience Framework with the Rockefeller Foundation. It also works on water resilience projects such as a water governance map for Yorkshire, UK, which includes all stakeholders involved in flood and coastal management, water supply, sewerage and drainage and water treatment.

The team behind the CWRA is also working closely with cities across the globe including Amman, Hull, Manchester, Mexico City, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki, in particular through to implementation stage for the Approach in close partnership with the cities of Cape Town and Greater Miami and the Beaches. It is also working with other key organisations such as the World Bank.

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