Stockholm International Water Institute / City of Stockholm / International Water Association / The World Bank Group / United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Smart solutions in water and waste management for liveable cities

Wednesday 30 August | 09.00-10.30 | Room: NL 357

Water supply, sanitation and stormwater are integral components of and/or directly interfere with the urban water system, yet they are often not planned or operated in an integrated way. Viewing them as a single system can greatly enhance the utility of water, both in the context of everyday operations and under stress. Minimizing the movement of water, reducing leakage, maximizing reuse and redefining waste as a resource can optimize the productive use of water and reduce pollution. Fostering rural-urban linkages can lead to mutual benefits and synergies at the water-food-energy nexus. Active participation of multiple sectors and communities is required, as is a proactive, holistic urban water planning approach to minimize conflicts and ecological impacts.

Smart means Integrated! Drivers of change in urban water and waste management (session 1 of 3) will present the compelling factors driving the need for new thinking in water and waste management for cities, e.g. demographics, spatial constraints, infrastructure required and more. It will review why changes of approach are essential and identify enablers of change. It will conceptualise strategies to operationalize global instruments such as the SDGs, the new urban agenda of Habitat III, and the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities.


Smart means Integrated! Drivers of change in urban water and waste management

09:00 Welcome by the Scientific Programme Committee               
Phil Graham, Belgian Development Agency (BTC) & Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)

09:05 Introduction
Tom Williams, International Water Association (IWA)

09:10 Better urbanization for better water outcomes
Faraj El-Awar, GWOPA/UN-Habitat

09: 20 An introduction to IWA's Water-Wise Cities Principles
Corinne Trommsdorff, IWA

09:25 Operationalizing Water-Wise Cities
Guang Chen, World Bank

09:35 Q&A

09:45 Pitch presentation by poster presenters
Moderator: Tom Williams, IWA

09: 50 Panel discussion: Drivers of change in urban water and waste management
Moderator: Tom Williams, IWA

  •  Denis Penouel, SIAAP (The greater Paris interdepartmental sanitation authority)
  •  Eileen O’Neill, WEF (Water Environment Federation)
  •  Tatiana Gallego-Lizon, Inter-American Development Bank 
  •  Maria Lennartsson, Stockholm City Council

10:25 Summary and wrap-up 

10:30 Close of session

Session 2: Innovations in Water and Waste Management for Liveable Cities (11:00 - 12:30; Room FH 202)

Session 3: Systems Thinking for Water and Waste Management for Liveable Cities (14:00 - 15:30, Room NL 461)


The seminar Smart solutions in water and waste management for liveable cities – resulted in three main learning points. First, smart solutions for liveable cities require a holistic approach to water management. A holistic approach adopts landscape-wide planning (recognizing the need of cross-sectoral water users, both in the upstream and downstream area), optimizes resource recovery and reuse within the water cycle (treating wastewater and stormwater as a resource), while also actively embracing public participation both for planning and implementation purposes. However, fragmentation of responsible institutions within the water sector has been recognized as a serious barrier to this. Greater coordination and collaboration among these institutions holds the key for realization of smart solutions.

Second, the best practice for implementing smart solutions calls for a problem-based approach. Participatory public engagement is one of the main ingredients for untangling and comprehensively formulating complex water issues and, then, for shaping smart solutions. Human and institutional capacity development should be viewed as important as infrastructure development, and should be encouraged to mainstream the practice of community-centred and problem-led solutions. Resources (human and capital), vision and persistence (from political actors and the public) are the cornerstones for adopting smart solutions that would enable fast-growing cities in developing countries to ‘leap-frog’ towards water-sensitive cities and avoid the mistakes of developed cities. Teresina and Addis Ababa show encouraging examples of this process.

Third, it was noted that informal settlements ‘pay more and receive less’ in terms of urban water services. Although re-location has been pushed in many instances, this is no longer seen as a viable solution, except for cases with high disaster risk. More adaptive approaches that integrate informal settlements in a way that recognizes their uniqueness are needed. Decentralized water systems offer this opportunity and can be the smart solutions to provide improved services to these communities.

Lastly, recognizing that water sits within a system of systems in cities (e.g. transport, energy, urban planning), successful implementation of smart solutions requires water practitioners to be proactive in informing and influencing urban form. An urban integrated systems-thinking paradigm is imperative for achieving SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities). Key principles embodied by this paradigm include: 1. adoption of a systemic view: integrating different systems within cities (water supply, sanitation and stormwater drainage) and mapping stakeholder groups (roles and interactions among them); 2. coordination and management between water and sanitation systems and components of the water cycle: leading to centralized management in decentralized schemes; 3. optimization of water productivity: reduce wasted water, reuse water and re-generate high-quality water; 4. wastewater as a resource: optimizing the recovery of water, energy and nutrients; 5. realignment of technologies and institutions: sustaining the inter-compatibility of both aspects through consistent review and refit; 6. inclusive stakeholder involvement: inducing change through inter-sectorial and inter-disciplinary efforts from research, practice and policy actors.