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Five cities chosen to develop water resilience framework

With 90 percent of the city standing below the high-tide line Hull is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels

Cities from five continents have been selected to contribute to the development of a global framework for water resilience. The City Water Resilience Framework, developed by Arup with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, will help cities better prepare for and respond to shocks and stresses to their water systems.

Amman, Cape Town, Mexico City, Greater Miami and the Beaches, and Hull were selected because they represent the range of water challenges facing cities around the world. With the exception of Hull, each city is a member of 100 Resilient Cities–pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation.

“More than 60 percent of the applicants to 100 Resilient Cities identified water as a chief risk–either having too much or too little of it,” Andrew Salkin, Senior Vice President of City Solutions at 100 Resilient Cities, told Cities Today. “We’ve seen the extreme disruption that can accompany a city’s operations. Adding a resilience lens to water management is therefore an essential component of addressing chronic stresses and/or quickly responding to acute shocks. Resilience thinking keeps large threats like hurricanes or sea level rise in mind when planning, zoning, and investing on an ongoing basis.”

The cities were selected because of their diversity in terms of population size, geographic location and economic status, as well as their commitment to taking a strategic approach to resilience.

As part of this partnership, the project will explore each city’s specific water concerns through field research and stakeholder interviews. Data and findings will be used to establish qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure city water resilience, for use in any city anywhere. The resulting City Water Resilience Framework will be a global standard for water resilience, which enables cities to diagnose challenges related to water and utilise that information to inform planning and investment decisions.

“A changing climate coupled with rapid urbanisation is increasing the frequency of water related crises facing cities,” said Mark Fletcher, Arup Global Water Leader. “Increasingly, unpredictable rainfall, flooding and droughts are impacting cities across their water cycle. By understanding a wide range of issues, being played out in different contexts, we will be able to help all cities to understand how to assess the risks they are facing, and how to prioritise action and investments to become more resilient.”

A steering group is overseeing the development framework with representatives from The Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities, the World Bank, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Alliance for Global Water Adaptation and The Resilience Shift.

“Having a global framework for water resilience means that any city facing similar challenges can tap into lessons learned and best practices proven effective around the world,” added Salkin. “A framework will allow cities to begin understanding their challenges and systems using a similar language and approach. It allows for common conversations, enabling cities to speak the same language, share ideas, and implement ideas more quickly.”