Cities-Design-Water Innovation Lab

21 March 2023

Accelerating and Rethinking Water Action in Cities

March 21, 8:30AM–1:30PM, The Forum at Columbia University, New York (601 W 125th St, NY 10027)

Co-creating implementable, integral, innovative and inclusive approaches that use water as leverage

Speed up What we see, what we read, what we hear and only start to feel: our vulnerability in facing the consequences of climate change keeps increasing and among these consequences, the impact on water is especially profound. Cities are critical hotspots for water challenges ánd opportunities. Water scarcity, heat waves and flooding related to climate change increasingly affect urban settings and intersect with growing urbanization and industrialization. In particular, cities’ most vulnerable communities are affected. At the same time, cities are dynamic places for rapid transformation and adaptation: ‘the global trend of urbanisation offers a critical opportunity in the near-term, to advance climate resilient development’ (IPCC 2022 AR6). Cities landscapes are thus an appropriate scale for effective climate action.

Water Action How to unlock the potential of water in cities? How can water leverage opportunities that catalyse needed changes, inspire sustainable development, lasting partnerships and transformative climate action? The way we address urban challenges today all too often exacerbates inequality and vulnerability, so how can water action contribute to creating more equitable, healthier, and safer cities for all urban dwellers? For this we need new, different and alternative approaches.

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The approaches


In this Innovation Lab we focus on alternative approaches that are inclusive, design-driven and use water as leverage to unlock cities’ potential. This innovation lab will bring together and showcase these alternative approaches and methodologies. As a forum for learning across a range of experiences, we can innovate and accelerate water action in cities.

In the Innovation Lab we:

  • connect experiences, journeys, learnings and examples of inclusive and design-driven climate action in city landscapes

  • reflect on the journeys and understanding today's emerging climate action challenges

  • identify the main themes and topics for speeding-up inclusive and design-driven water action in city landscapes

Based on the lab we build partnerships and formulate an action agenda to speed-up water action in cities through inclusive, design-driven and use water as a leveraging measure.

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