On 17 October 2016, the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) and the University of Tokyo jointly organised the side event, “Resilience within Water Systems: The Quest for Strategies and Innovations in the Anthropocene”, at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) in Quito, Ecuador. This event, organised as part of the UNU-IAS SDG Dialogue series, brought together researchers to share their opinions, and discuss specific concepts and ideas to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing in particular on Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 13 (climate action), and 14 (life below water), as well as the New Urban Agenda adopted at HABITAT III.
Participants highlighted the role of science-based knowledge in building urban water resilience, demonstrated how their research integrates specific SDGs in the urban water environment, and indicated practical approaches to better equip policymakers and city planners for sustainable urban development in the Anthropocene.
Shokhrukh Jalilov (UNU-IAS) opened the event with an overview of water-related challenges facing cities, and the incentives and strategies that cities can develop to cope. This was followed by a keynote presentation by Kazuhiko Takeuchi (UNU-IAS; University of Tokyo). He introduced urban water-related issues in the context of SDGs, and highlighted the importance of an integrated science-based approach for understanding the social-ecological and material-cycling spheres.
Xuemei Bai (Australian National University) pointed out that urban institutions require re-structuring in order to adopt a systems approach, coordinate among stakeholders, and build networks to strengthen urban resilience. Thomas Elmqvist (Stockholm Resilience Centre) emphasised the need for a nature-based solution to building resilience in the Anthropocene.
The panel discussion explored the importance of the multi-functionality of water in cities to address areas such as green space, recreational space, and disaster mitigation. Discussion with the audience considered how to bridge gaps between current urban development and resilient cities, which can be responsible for coordinating integrated approaches to the SDGs.
In his concluding remarks, Kensuke Fukushi (UNU-IAS; University of Tokyo) emphasised the role of scientists and stressed that systems and science-based approaches present opportunities to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs, as well as the New Urban Agenda.
For more information, see the news story on the UNU-IAS website.