Every city faces different water challenges. Some are dealing with increasing risk of flooding, driven by climate change. Others struggle to supply sufficient water for growing populations and economies.

Arup developed the CWRA to help leaders navigate these issues, bringing the most effective practices to always local issues.

Resilience takes time to build. It’s a complex outcome to produce, requiring investments in infrastructure, governance, communication and regulation. The CWRA has helped cities around the world to respond to profound water issues and produce long-term solutions that address each of these dimensions of the resilience puzzle.

One approach, many priorities

At its heart the CWRA provides clear insights on the most effective sequencing and prioritisation with a water programme, helping clients to engage with the complexity of the water system and prepare for changes in demand and use. It helps unlock investment and funding for much needed water infrastructure. It adopts a nature-first ethos, prioritising interventions that don’t rely on hard infrastructure where natural factors can play a role.

The five stages of developing water resilience

The CWRA brings method and insight to a city’s water resilience in 5 key stages:

  1. 1

    Understand the system

    Explore shocks and stresses, identify system interdependencies, convene stakeholders, map assets and processes.

  2. 2

    Assess urban water resilience

    Assess the city's approach according to the CWRA to identify existing strengths and weaknesses and establish baselines.

  3. 3

    Develop an action plan

    The action plan is an holistic evaluation of anticipated benefits and costs and prioritization of key projects.

  4. 4

    Implement the action plan

    Based on the city assessment, a plan is developed for realizing interventions that build water resilience.

  5. 5

    Evaluate, learn and adapt

    Implementation of resilience measures is evaluated and changes in context and stakeholder involvement are analysed.

Beyond infrastructure

The CWRA highlights the social role of citizens and governance, ensuring the right incentive structure and communications are in place to drive culture change around water and sanitation. 

For corporates, the CWRA works hand in hand with business strategy and risk management, establishing how water plays a role in a business’s operations and future. 

Finally, the CWRA enables clients to develop solutions at the portfolio level, dovetailing many related projects at once, to achieve resilience at scale.


Download the City Water Resilience Approach

City Water Resilience Approach

Associated publications

Download the City Characterisation Reports and Profiles that have been produced to date.

Manchester City Characterisation Report
Hull City Characterisation Report
Hull Water Resilience Profile
Rotterdam City Characterisation Report
Thessaloniki City Characterisation Report
Amman City Characterisation Report
Lagos City Characterisation Report
Addis Adaba City Characterisation Report
Addis Ababa Water Resilience Profile
Kigali Water Resilience Profile
Musanze Water Resilience Profile
Johannesburg City Characterisation Report
Johannesburg Water Resilience Profile
Gqeberha City Characterisation Report
Cape Town City Characterisation Report
Cape Town Water Resilience Profile
Miami City Characterisation Report
Miami Water Resilience Profile
Mexico City Characterisation Report