City Water Resilience Approach



Published: May 2019

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.

Download this suite of resources to help you collaboratively build resilience to local water challenges.

You can now download the step by step methodology to enable you to use the City Water Resilience Approach, as shared at World Water Week 2019.

The City Water Resilience Approach has been developed in response to cities’ needs for tools and approaches to help them and their stakeholders navigate the process of building resilience. It can be used by public and private organisations, representatives from national and regional government, cities, utilities, catchment and basin authorities, the private sector and civil society groups.

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). It includes resources that will help the cities carry out each step of the process.

The City Water Resilience Approach has been 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. It can help you to plan, design, implement and maintain water programmes and projects to improve outcomes for urban populations who rely on safe water systems for their health and wellbeing.

These tools include the City Water Resilience Framework, which is a globally applicable water resilience framework to assess the strengths and weakness of the urban water system and Our Water, an online tool to improve water governance through coordination and knowledge-sharing between actors working in the water system.

Implementing the CWRA

The implementation of the CWRA has begun in the first pilot cities and this work is captured in the City Water Resilience Profile for each city.

CWRA pioneers explaining the Approach

Dr Fred Boltz introduces the City Water Resilience Approach as the most advanced work in the field of urban water resilience diagnosis and design. He sets it in the context of the water resilience and climate crisis challenges faced by our planet and recognised by the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Louise Ellis talks us through the City Water Resilience Approach explaining the five core principles, collaborative partners behind its development, cities involved, and the robust peer-reviewed process followed and implementation in the first two cities, Cape Town and Greater Miami.

Louise Ellis talks us through the five steps of the City Water Resilience Approach methodology as the most advanced work in the field of urban water resilience diagnosis and design. Finally she announces a call to action to create an urban water resilience community of practice.

Background work on resilient water governance

CWRA Publications

The conclusions of the desk research, literature review and fieldwork, are published together in the City Water Resilience Approach and Literature Review.


OurWater is an online collaboration tool addressing the need for joined-up governance, by helping cities share information about local water management and interdependencies. It is being shared as a prototype that has been developed and tested with a range of users, with a request to register your interest for further news about the tool which aims to launch later in 2019.

City Reports

Working with 100 Resilient Cities the project team collaborated with eight cities globally to understand their urban water system, governance, interdependencies between water and other systems, and the factors contributing to the resilience. The individual City Characterisation Reports are published for Amman, Cape Town, Hull, Manchester, Mexico City, Miami, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki.

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

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