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Water and Cities

Ensuring Sustainable Futures

image of Water and Cities

This report focuses on the urban water management challenges facing cities across OECD countries, and explores both national and local policy responses with respect to water-risk exposure, the state of urban infrastructures and dynamics, and institutional and governance architectures. The analyses focus on four mutually dependent dimensions – finance, innovation, urban-rural co-operation and governance – and proposes a solutions-oriented typology based on urban characteristics. The report underlines that sustainable urban water management will depend on collaboration across different tiers of government working together with local initiatives and stakeholders.

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Executive summary

Cities in OECD countries have not solved water management. While they currently enjoy relatively high levels of protection against water risks, they face disquieting challenges, including the proven difficulty of upgrading and renewing existing infrastructures, and heightened uncertainty about future water availability and quality. Cities in OECD countries are entering a new era, characterised by the need to retrofit existing assets into more adaptable infrastructure, by different combinations of financing tools and by new roles for stakeholders in water management. The transition to this new era requires co-ordinated action among central governments, local authorities and a variety of private actors.

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