19 February 2020 | 9 minutes.

The city of the future is a ‘water-sensitive’ city

Barbara Anton
Urban Water Management expert at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Barbara Anton, Urban Water Management expert at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Why is water key from a local perspective?

Water is essential wherever people decide to settle. It is indispensable for maintaining all kind of life, be it flora, fauna or humankind. It is one of the most precious resources on earth, but it is not available ubiquitously. Its unique value is best felt where its presence is rare – the old proverb still rings true, you never miss the water until the well runs dry.

In an average European city of today, all inhabitants expect an unlimited supply of clean water coming out of their taps: for drinking, washing, cleaning, and enjoying it in all its dimensions. A regular supply of water is, of course, also needed for urban services such as maintaining parks and other green spaces, as well as for industrial and energy production. With climate change taking its toll more and more tangibly, a city that can’t guarantee a regular water supply any more will become less attractive to new companies looking to set up business. The same goes for a city that is frequently exposed to heavy rainfalls, but badly equipped to manage them without major damage happening to people, properties and infrastructure.

Managing water poorly at the local level severely affects a city’s quality of life, and its opportunities for developing sustainably across all sectors and layers of the local society.

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