Our international activities not only help us create more water sensitive urban areas globally, they teach us valuable lessons from applying water sensitive principles on the ground—lessons we can bring back to Australia. Our activities also generate opportunities for our Participants to provide services in these overseas markets.

Since the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities began in 2012, we have worked on many international water sensitive cities transformations, including in China, India and in countries where we’re helping to implement the RISE program.

In this summer edition of waterSENSE, we look closely at our international projects and the outcomes and lessons we can take from them. Particularly, we will explore:

  • Our work in China, which shows how we moved from discrete projects to mainstream application
  • Our projects in India, outlining why the water sensitive cities (WSC) approach needs to be tailored to fit the context
  • Our collaborative efforts with RISE (in Indonesia and Fiji), which demonstrates our co-design process, one of the main processes for developing tailored WSC solutions.

The future for our international projects

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work in other countries. But while international travel is limited, the demand for our knowledge and expertise remains strong.

We are applying our knowledge of nature-based solutions for flood management in projects in China, Thailand and Vietnam, collaborating with the World Bank Group, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Australian Water Partnership. As well as establishing a framework for identifying suitable nature-based solutions, our IRP2 outputs—the INFFEWS Value Tool and Benefit–Cost Analysis Tool—are being used to document and quantify the non-market economic values of these solutions. This analysis can then be used to develop business cases for nature-based solutions, and identify financing and funding options.

As we turn our focus to synthesising diverse research outputs into practical solutions and influencing policy, regulation and practice to promote adoption, we are absolutely certain that the cities of the future must be water sensitive. The water sensitive cities approach offers cities—particularly developing cities—a ‘leapfrogging’ pathway: they can skip inferior, less efficient, more expensive or more polluting urban water management approaches and proceed directly to more integrated and sustainable urban water management. In this way, cities can avoid the environmental, social and economic vulnerabilities that come from managing the water cycle in a segmented way.

The key to leapfrogging is delivering integrated services that are multi-, rather than mono-, functional. For example, an integrated approach that recognises sewage and stormwater as resources simultaneously addresses sanitation and flood mitigation issues while enhancing the reliability of water supply. We know both we and our legacy organisation, the Water Sensitive Cities Institute, have the tools and knowledge to help such transformations here and abroad.

Last updated: 12th Jan 2021