Resilience by Design

Resilience by Design means that freshwater ecosystems (think lakes, rivers and aquifers) can handle changes, particularly climate, and still continue to deliver their essential services. This is the fundamental principle of resilience: being able to respond and adapt to shocks and stresses and to transform when conditions require it.”         – Rockefeller Foundation

A resilient river basin is one where communities within a basin have options and use them to manage change, both sudden and gradual, while not undermining the long-term ability of the basin to thrive. The Hydrosystems Group is collaborating with partners to promote, demonstrate and communicate the principles of freshwater resilience in its ongoing projects.  There are currently several ongoing examples of implementing Freshwater Resilience into water system planning and management strategies, in Mexico City, Tanzania, and San Francisco.

The Freshwater Resilience by Design methodology utilizes a systematic process for evaluating and ranking investments singularly and in combination with the aim of strengthening basin resilience.

 The methodology is divided into four phases:

Phase 1 – Define Scope of Analysis, Targets and Unknowns

Through discussions with stakeholders and an accounting of existing work done in the area of interest, this first phase sets the stage for the analysis, level of effort and detail required, performance metrics, and future uncertainties to evaluate.

Phase 2 – Collaborative modeling

In coordination with local partners, hydrologic and systems models are developed (or adapted from prior developed models) to simulate the system of interest.  Local stakeholders are kept informed throughout the modeling process to provide local insights and context.

Phase 3 – Climate Stress Test to discover optimal basin solutions

The core analysis of this approach involves a stress test to explore conditions which increase the risk of unacceptable or negative consequences.  by exploring conditions that cause these vulnerabilities in the system, one can assess strategies to improve resilience and robustness.

Phase 4 – Data visualizations

One of the key components of our work is informing policy and decision makers.  It is necessary to clearly describe the problem and conclusions for action to be taken.