• Events

Increasing resilience when delivering major projects

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Will Goode, Programme Director of the Resilience Shift, is presenting a session at the Major Projects Association Annual Conference 2018, taking place over 19 and 20 September 2018. Will explains the questions he will be exploring.

In their own words the Major Projects Association is a membership association for organisations engaged in the delivery and the development of major projects, programmes and portfolios. Membership comprises organisations engaged in a wide variety of commercial and public enterprises. They operate in a wide variety of fields including: manufacturing, construction, defence, transportation, IT, government departments, consultancies and law, as well as those engaged in the academic study of major projects.

The desire from members is to hone their skills; to improve best practice; and to investigate innovative solutions for the many problems encountered during major projects, programmes and portfolios.

I first encountered the Major Projects Association while I was working on the HS2 project and took part in their course ‘The Challenge of Major Projects’.

The course was excellent. I was introduced to new perspectives of an industry that I thought I had a good handle on, hearing from a variety of major project professionals and stakeholders including HM Treasury, delivery partners, infrastructure clients, civil servants, management consultants, lawyers and more. All of whom view and understand major projects slightly differently, or put another way, get different types of value from major projects at different points in their value chain.

My big takeaway from the course was the insight that I gained from a brief introduction to the Project Initiation Routemap. This is a tool developed between government and the private sector. It aims to improve the initiation phases of the major projects, primarily in the UK and the highest level messages of which are: assess complexity, assess capability, plan enhancements then deliver enhancements.

I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at this year’s MPA Annual Conference about the link between major projects and critical infrastructure resilience. We’ll be exploring; what can we do at the various stages of major projects to increase resilience, both for the project itself, but most importantly for the asset or system that the project is focussed on delivering? What do we need to consider to be able to do this? and why should we bother at all?

I look forward to exploring these questions with the same variety of people that broadened my horizons on the challenge of Major Projects course a few years ago.

Categories: Events

Resilience Shift Debate – the value of resilience – what is it worth and why?

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“If resilience had any real economic and societal value, then decision makers would be implementing it already”

At the Resilience Shift, our aim is a safer and better world through resilient infrastructure. This debate and audience Q&A, at the Global Knowledge Exchange event on 22 August 2018, posed this challenging question in a lively and opinionated discussion.

The views and opinions raised as part of this classic debating format do not represent the panel’s own views or those of any associated organisations.

Chaired by Dr Mark Fletcher, Global Water Leader, Arup, the panel included (pictured from left to right):

  • Trevor Bishop, Director of Strategy and Planning, OFWAT
  • Juliet Mian, Technical Director, Resilience Shift
  • Fred Boltz, CEO Resolute Development Solutions, and Chair, City Water Resilience Framework
  • Dr Mark Fletcher, Global Water Leader, Arup
  • Ruth Boumphrey, Director of Research, Lloyd’s Register Foundation
  • Cayley Green, Senior Resilience Analyst, City of Cape Town
  • Diego Juan Rodriguez, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, World Bank

The full debate:

The audience Q&A

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Learning from others with Imperial College’s Industry Showcase

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(c) Imperial College - Campus Shots R1 - 20 - 08 -2013

(c) Imperial College

The Resilience Shift is constantly trying to learn from those at the forefront of thinking related to resilience, which is why I  recently went to the Imperial College London Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation Industry Showcase event, on 7 September 2018.

The theme was “Infrastructure interdependencies in London – how to overcome complexity to drive productivity and enable sustainable urban growth?”.

Dr David Hancock from Infrastructure Projects Authority spoke about transforming construction and made an interesting comparison between change and transformation which resonated with the Resilience Shift way of thinking. He pointed out that change is incremental and fixes the past, whereas transformation is radical and creates the future. It is this radical transformation that is required to shift resilience from theory to practice.

A series of burst presentations gave a flavour of the research carried out at the Centre, ranging from research on emergency evacuation operations management in large, complex public occupancy buildings (Georgia Bateman) to systems engineering applications for water management (Dr Ana Mijic).

A second keynote came from Dame Judith Hackitt, who is the author of the landmark “Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety”. She gave an overview of her report and some key insights including the fact that no one has been looking at the regulations for high rise buildings as a system therefore there was no understanding of conflicts in the system or where the weaknesses and gaps were. Other industries, such as chemical engineering, have been using systems approaches for many years and if this knowledge is shared across disciplines change can be accelerated.

Finally, Dame Hackitt was joined on a panel by a variety of speakers from across construction industry in London including Mark Farmer (Cast Consultancy), Jaimie Johnston (Bryden Wood), Adam Locke (Laing O’Rourke) and Peter Vale (Tideway). They discussed how to simplify processes to cope with infrastructure interdependencies an in this positive discussion many solutions were put forward.

Most importantly, as echoed throughout the day, the common theme was of the need to get people out of their silos and working together.

With thanks to the team at Imperial for an inspiring day.

Categories: Events

Showcasing the latest advances in thinking and practice

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The Resilience Shift hosted a special showcase of advances in thinking and practice.

The session, Project Showcase on Water Resilience Design and Execution: the State of the Art, featured advances in resilience and complex systems theory, hydrosystems engineering, urban systems planning, and water governance and human dimensions of water management.

We asked leading water resilience scientists and practitioners to present their current work on water systems resilience design for urban systems, basins, and transboundary water sources.

The moderated, interactive session featured advances in planning and decision support tools, resilience diagnosis and design approaches, and applied work in representative cities and basins of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.

We also previewed scientific research forming a special issue of the journal Water Security:Water is the Master Variable: Solving for Resilience in the Modern Era“.  This will be published this autumn.

Partners in the showcase include Arup, the Global Water Partnership, Resolute Development Solutions, SIWI, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

The photo illustrating this article is by the artist Edward Burtynsky. Examples of his photographic work of water landscapes recently featured in a curated exhibition at Arup.


16:00-16:10 Water Resilience Design and Execution: the State of the Art
Dr. Fred Boltz, Resolute Development Solutions and the Resilience Shift

16:10-16:22 City-Source Interdependencies and Water Resilience: Mexico City and the Valley of Mexico
Sarah Freeman, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

16:22-16:34 Urban Systems Planning through a Water Lens: the City Water Resilience Framework
Alexa Bruce, ARUP

16:34-16:46 City Water Resilience in Practice
Dr. Gisela Kaiser, City of Cape Town, South Africa

16:46-16:58 Designing for Resilience in Transboundary Waters
Anjali Lohani, Global Water Partnership

16:58-17:10 Decision Support Tools and Technologies for Urban Water Resilience
Glen Low, Earth Genome and World Economic Forum 4IR Urban Water Initiative

17:10-17:30 Interactive Discussion with the Audience: Practicing the State of the Art


Update: Fred Boltz speaking at the event today.

Categories: Events

WWWeek focus – Building a resilient future through water

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At World Water Week, the Resilience Shift is supporting a global focus on how to build a resilient future through water, through a number of high level dialogue sessions. Sessions are hosted by the Resilience Shift in partnership with SIWI and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In 2018, global agendas will focus on water and ecosystems at large. The UN-HLPF will address progress for SDG6 (water, sanitation) and other goals (energy, cities, sustainable consumption and production, ecosystems). The HLPF will present its concluding report and CBD COP14, Ramsar COP13 and UNFCCC COP24 will cover key water issues. UN members eagerly seek the engagement of non-state actors’ multi-stakeholder groups to support the implementation of these global agendas.

World Water Week has become an agenda setter for annual stocktaking on water-related development goals. It is a pivotal moment when synergies between the global agendas can be identified and acted upon to foster coherent and efficient implementation by convening high-level government representatives, UN and multilateral institutions, civil society, academia, and the private sector.

For three years, SIWI has organized a two-part high-level session to exchange knowledge, enhance partnership and action and take stock on water-related progress of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. This year’s edition is co-sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation and The Resilience Shift. It will highlight advances in water, science, practice, policy with a view on water resilience as a paradigm for fulfilling our common agenda for sustainable development.


Session 1: SDG-Paris Agreement: Building a resilient future through water (part 1)


09:00     Welcome – Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute

09:10      Key note message from COP presidency – H.E Tomasz Chruszczow, Special Envoy for Climate Change, The Ministry of Environment, Poland – tbc

09:20 Key note message – Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

09:30     Key note message – H.E Henk WJ Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands, and Sherpa to the High-Level Panel on Water

9:40     Feedbacks from Global Agendas – Panel discussion moderated by Ms. Maggie White, Senior Manager, International Policy, SIWI

  • Pamela Tshwete, Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, South Africa
  • Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Wetlands Convention
  • Luqmon Isomatov, Head of Department, Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Republic of Tajikistan
  • Andrea Erickson, Managing Director, Global Water Team, The Nature Conservancy
  • Cate Lamb, Director of Water Security, CDP

10:25    Concluding statement

10:30    End of Part 1


Session 2: SDG-Paris Agreement: Building a resilient future through water (part 2)


11.00     Introduction – Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI welcomes and presents Dr. Fred Boltz, CEO, Resolute Development Solutions and Ambassador, The Resilience Shift

11:10     Once upon a time tomorrow: from Architecture to Photography, a different lens on our society and ecosystem symbiosis – M. Chris Morin-Eitner, Photographer

11:20     Key note speaker – From the Global Agenda to Cities’ action – Ms. Lauren Sorkin, Asia Pacific Regional Director, 100 Resilient Cities

11:30     Supporting the implementation of the Global agendas at a city level – Panel Discussion and Q&A – Moderated by Dr. Mark Fletcher, Global Water Director, ARUP

  • Mayor Katarina Luhr,Vice Mayor of Stockholm City
  • Jean-Didier Berthault, Vice President of Greater Paris sanitation Authority (SIAAP) and Greater Paris Metropolitan Councillor
  • Dr Gisela Kaiser, Executive Director of Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Eduardo Vazquez Herrera, Executive Director, Agua Capital, Mexico CitySC
  • Jennifer Sara, Director, Global water Practice, World Bank Group
  • Alexa Bruce, Project Manager, City Water Resilience Framework, Arup

12:25     Conclusion – Mr. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute

12:30 Close of the Session


Session 3: Follow up on High Level Panel: Building a resilient future through water

Water is key to the success of all the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and therefore essential for delivering on the 2030 Agenda that aims to transform our world into the future we want. It is also a key enabling factor for delivering on the other global agendas (Paris Climate Agreement, Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction, New Urban Agenda).

To achieve this, a new way of managing water is needed, to make societies more resilient, sustainable and inclusive. Multi-stakeholder representatives of the water and development community presented an open letter to UN member state representations, UN agencies and other leading global organizations in the run up to the High Level Political Forum.

This initiative, lead and coordinated by SIWI and key partners, aims to build a strong momentum back to back with the HLPF and World Water Week, leading towards a final document for the UN General Assembly that calls for action and illustrates means of how it can be achieved.

This SIWI Sofa will present the key initiatives announced during the High Level Dialogue session on ‘Building a Resilient Future Through Water’ that will contribute to this momentum.

Open letter and Policy brief on ‘Building a resilient future through water’

Water is key to the success of all the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and therefore essential for delivering on the 2030 Agenda that aims to transform our world into the future we want. To achieve this, a new way of managing water is needed, to make societies more resilient, sustainable and inclusive. This open letter calls for action and takes a closer look at how this can be achieved.

Categories: Events

Resilience Shift hosts SIWI sofa at World Water Week. Watch video

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We are delighted to have hosted a SIWI sofa event on Tuesday 28 August to discuss the City Water Resilience Framework and Governance for Resilient Urban Water Systems project as part of World Water Week.

Our SIWI Sofa session aims to showcase the work that we have been doing on urban water resilience including an introduction to the City Water Resilience Framework. We would like to capture the challenges our partner cities face, the value of the framework for the cities as well as sharing our successful fieldwork missions and the project next steps.

The partnership of the Resilience Shift, Arup and SIWI is developing a global framework, the City Water Resilience Framework, to help cities across the world to improve the resilience of their urban water system. The project is supported by Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, 100 Resilient Cities, and University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Framework includes the develop of associated tools for understanding water governance and undertaking a resilience assessment. The framework is being co-developed with eight cities from around the world, including Cape Town, Mexico City, Greater Miami and the Beaches, Hull, Amman, Greater Manchester, Rotterdam and Thessaloniki.

Our panel:

  • Louise Ellis is a civil engineer at Arup and one of the team developing the City Water Resilience Framework.
  • Dr Gisela Kaiser is the Executive Director of Informal Settlements, Water and Waste at the City of Cape Town, which is one of the partner cities.
  • Fred Boltz is CEO at Resolute Development Solutions, formerly Rockefeller Foundation, and Chair of the Steering Committee for the City Water Resilience Framework
  • Eduardo Vazquez Herrera is the Executive Director of Agua Capital, a water fund in Mexico City.


The sofa session explored the key drivers, outcomes and objectives for the City Water Resilience Framework project, the challenges the cities have faced in diagnosing and building urban water resilience? The panel also discussed the question of value – both for cities, and for financial institutions and how the project has been co-developed with the city and other partners. Finally they considered the next steps for the project and their hopes for the future.

You can watch the session below – starting at 07:10 approximately.


Categories: Events

Inspiring young professionals with a focus on city water resilience

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Sunday brought the opening day of World Water Week which kicks off with Young Professionals Day. This aims to inspire young people and provide a platform for their voices to be heard. In the spirit of the 2018 World Water Week, the day was focused on the theme of water, ecosystems and human development.

The second session of the day was on the resilience of water systems in cities. In this session, we focused on transforming the global commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals into local action in the face of the shocks and stresses facing our water system.

Using Hull, Cape Town, Miami and Amman as case studies, 100 young professionals identified the main shocks and stresses facing these four cities, which SDGs these are impacting, and resolutions that could be implemented at a municipal and individual scale.  Initiatives including governance improvements, technological solutions, nature-based solutions and public empowerment were proposed as contributory solutions to the keys issues of drought, flooding, ecosystem degradation, financial resilience of utilities and WASH challenges in informal settlements.

We concluded the day with a spirited debate on “This house believes that ecosystem conservation is fundamentally at odds with human development” chaired by Mark Fletcher, Global Water Leader at Arup. One team argued for the motion, the other argued how human development and responsible stewardship of natural resources go hand in hand.

Diego Rodriguez, Senior Economist at the World Bank, argued that “today, we have much less poverty than 10, 20, 30 years ago; and that is anchored in a very particular type of growth model that uses natural resources.”

Similarly, Marina Demaria Venancio (Young Professional and PhD student at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil) presented a more technology-focused future that reduced our dependence on natural systems.

Amanda Janoo (Young Professional and Alternative Economic Policy Adviser at the UN) concluded her team’s argument by outlining the role of choice in human development, stating “there is no limit to ow much people want to consume, or how rich they want to be”.

Fred Boltz (Water Ambassador at The Resilience Shift) argued that “Humans are an endemic part of the natural ecosystems that sustain our planet Earth…Humans have prospered throughout history by benefitting from nature. The growth model uses natural resources to fuel human wellbeing and development. Why would we destroy them when they provide such wealth?”

Sunil Abeyasekera, (Young Professionals for Agricultural Development) presented a balanced position: “It’s not a choice between one of the other – they co-exist. Youth around the world are yearning for these opportunities to conserve ecosystems. By investing in our human development, together we can begin to flourish.”

Following the debate, we continued our discussions at the Young Professionals drinks!

Categories: Events

Global Knowledge Exchange – three successful days in pictures

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Three days have passed in a whirl of activity with our collaborators from across the globe contributing their experience and expertise.  We'll be sharing more from our work in the weeks to come, with conclusions from the cities water resilience work to be published, and next steps to come for the City Water Resilience Framework and our Resilience Shift work on water resilience governance.

We'll be at World Water Week from 26-30 August sharing more of the outcomes from the Global Knowledge Exchange and look forward to meeting more of our collaborators there. Thank you to all of our participants and please continue to follow our blog and twitter feed for more updates on our work.

Categories: Events

Shaping the city water resilience framework assessment tool

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The second day of the Global Knowledge Exchange was all about shaping the City Water Resilience Framework assessment tool. Teams from the Resilience Shift and the City Water Resilience Framework hosted a number of sessions throughout the day.

Inigo Ruiz-Apilanez and George Beane gave a detailed overview on the fieldwork conducted in Amman, Mexico City, Hull, Cape Town and Miami, and how the data collected was interpreted.

They explained the methodology to incorporate the participant’ efforts and contributions and it was clear the cities’ contributions were translated in a robust way to inform the development of the assessment tool.

Following this we broke out into groups and the 30+ experts from more than ten countries and different organisations and backgrounds discussed which are the key goals and indicators to understand, frame and assess water resilience in cities. The amount of knowledge, and experience that brought together meant that the quality of feedback being received was invaluable.

Measurability and relevance of indicators ranging from transparent and flexible procurement processes to innovative financing were discussed.

The interesting perspective of representatives from cities including Rotterdam, Manchester and Thessaloniki provided new contributions that will also lead to further iterations of the assessment tool.

We’ll share more from the event subsequently. Find out more by subscribing to our blog or by following us on twitter.

Categories: Events

Preparing for resilience to black sky hazards

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EarthEx is an online interactive exercise sponsored by the Electric Infrastructure Security Council (EIS) aiming to provide organisations with a forum to discuss, develop and test organisational plans to improve resilience to Black Sky Hazards.

The Resilience Shift participated in the exercise this year both as an organisation, and in the individual and families game. Xavier Aldea Borruel took part on behalf of the Resilience Shift and explains how it worked.

The exercise is structured in a similar way to an online game. Players are presented with a black sky event in which a cyber attack has caused some systems to stop working properly. As the exercise develops, the severity of the impacts increase, seriously affecting basic lifeline support systems and risking not only the continuity of the business but also the safety of society.

In the professional / organisational version, the exercise allows the user to play using different ‘lanes’ or sectors. The black sky event always remains the same, but the specific challenges vary depending on the sector that we’ve selected to play. The exercise presents situational videos in which the information about the event is presented and updated through the exercise. In our case, we’ve played the exercise as the private sector, but here are 33 different lanes to choose from, so anyone can adapt the exercise to their specific sector.

Once the players have completed their situational awareness, the exercise is designed to promote facilitated discussions within each organisation that participates in it, by posing a series of questions. This includes thinking about the best course of action in a specific situation, listing priority actions, challenging existing procedures and, in sum, to think about necessary decisions that are needed to successfully survive a black sky event. In the end, the exercise also provides some space for reflection on what would need to change in order to more effectively deal with a situation like this one.

My take home message from participating in this exercise is the clarity in which interdependencies play a key role in cascading failures in an event like this one. A bit like the butterfly effect, a small disruption can lead to catastrophic consequences. Improving the preparedness by improving cross-sectorial communications and applying systems thinking to critical infrastructure could be the way forwards to mitigate the impact of this kind of events.

In addition, the ‘butterfly’ in this years’ exercise was a cyber attack – once again highlighting the need for a balance between fragility and resilience when we rely on technology and smart systems everywhere. It is important to understand these challenges and ensure that all sectors are prepared to deal with the kind of threats that can arise from these situations.

Overall it’s been a fun exercise, played by hundreds of organisations worldwide and thousands of individuals, which I’m sure will help to understand the way forwards for initiatives aiming to improve resilience.

Helen Civil played the individuals and families version and found it very entertaining but also thought provoking. She explains more.

How would you keep your family safe during a ‘black sky’ event? I took part in the exercise as an individual and it was very entertaining. The interface was well designed and set up to help you think about what might happen if large scale outages took place. Also what you might need and how you might respond – thinking about the best way to help yourself and others.

At the end of the exercise you can download an emergency preparation checklist of things to have at home – so expect a worldwide rush on batteries, water purification tables, can openers, battery operated radios and flashlights.

As I have a family with two adults and four small children, let alone the wider extended family, the exercise really made me think about how I might need to respond. How could I feed and water my four hungry boys, let alone myself and their father, how would I keep them safe?

We might have a laugh at survivalists but it makes common sense to have some basic items at home to be prepared in case of a power cut, a water outage or ultimately if a black sky hazard should happen.

You can still take part in the exercise at Earth Ex and play the game with all those “working together to secure our world”.

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