Working with Cities

Planning better futures for all

Unlocking value and driving sustainable performance

Our phased approach means cities can gradually onboard systems thinking and explore and demonstrate the benefits before embedding it. Taking this gradual route ensures cities can better respond to their planning needs, which increases the benefits including:

  • Increasing infrastructure productivity to reduce the need for investment by up to 40% through smart partnerships, nature-based solutions and performance based public-private partnership investments.
  • Improving management of resources including a circular approach and multi-hazard risk according to Sendai Framework, including the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Putting all citizens and their wellbeing at the heart of planning and investment decisions.
  • Scaling the approach to support the delivery of the United Nations’ 17 global sustainable development goals and its New Urban Agenda, a global standard for sustainable urban development.

We work with city regions to identify their priorities and needs and explore solutions and potential investment opportunities. This will help them seek the transformational change to build resilience and successfully transition to sustainable development paths.

Supporting cities through transformational change

We have developed a new, phased approach to working with cities, designed to demonstrate the value of a systems thinking approach to planning, in the context of specific project’s challenges and policies. 

A flexible three-stage approach to deliver solutions to complex issues

We champion a practical, integrated systems approach to driving sustainable performance in city regions. Our offering allows for a gradual onboarding to secure approach validation and internal buy-in, followed by prototype demonstration of systems-based solutions and capacity building. The first two stages are designed to prepare cities for a fully functioning systems modelling platform to support planning and investment decisions that will help them build sustainability and resilience.



Approach validation

Regional stakeholder buy-in

City Analysis
  • Stakeholder & governance
  • Procurement
  • Institutional capacity & data
City Routemap
  • Priority focus areas
  • Prototype model data & tech requirements
  • Access to funding
  • Practical next steps Results Matrix (RM)
Cross-network opportunities
Results Matrix (RM)

Topic exploration and prioritisation



Prototype demonstration of systems-based solutions to region-specific challenges

Capacity building through advance learning

Collaborative workshop
  • Regional priorities, focus area

  • Prototyping & discovery

  • Learning & capacity building

  • Investment & brokering solutions

Prototype Model
  • Data maturity support
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Topic-expert user group
  • Model interoperability
Use cases and action plan
  • Enhanced data use & analytics
  • Realistic simulation of a sector solution
  • Routemap adopted and completed by project actors
  • Outline investment proposal
  • Integration of effective solutions


Fully functioning systems modelling for value creation

Project infrastructure options to build regional sustainability and resilience

Systems Modelling Platform
  • Codeveloped Integrated systems model
  • Scenario testing for project design and investment decisions
  • User-Friendly interface
  • Hackathon for regional
    cross-sector leaders
Learning & Capacity Building

Training, knowledge sharing & increased learning power

Brokering investment & effective technology
  • Connecting investment & innovations to bankable projects
  • Codeveloped with expert-user group


The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana

Challenge: Water supply and sanitation

Clients: DFID & Ghana Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD)

Hunter Region, Australia

Challenge: Water infrastructure and energy transition

Client: Hunter Water

Stirling, Edinburgh, Scotland

Challenge: Flooding and subsidence risks to infrastructure and asset management

Clients: Scottish Canals & European Space Agency

Join our Network of City Champions, Technology Providers and Investors

A growing community of practice that allows for a rapid deployment and global scale up of systemic solutions to systemic problems.

You will receive a quarterly Horizon Scan email, which will provide insight into future collaborative projects through the Network. It will offer the opportunity to profile your organisation to the rest of the Network in a showcase.

By completing this form, You agree, that We (Resilience Brokers) can list you as “Supporting the Resilience Brokers Network” on the website and use your organisation’s logo in related materials if applicable (e.g. printed report).

Both parties agree that either party may rescind this status with one weeks’ notice, should alignment no longer be relevant or desirable.

Privacy note: we will only use your contact details for Resilience Brokers Network-related activities.



We wish to support the Network as:*

Project Case studies

Water and sanitation sector (WASH) challenges: exploring effective solutions for inclusive urban development

The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), Ghana

The challenge to people and the environment

Our survival depends on having access to clean water. But in some city regions such as Accra, Ghana, poor city infrastructure leads to serious issues with water and sanitation.

This leads to significant impacts, for instance exposure to contaminated waste and flooding can lead to sickness and social upheaval caused by populations moving away from the affected region.

Identifying a solution: effective solutions for inclusive urban development

Accra’s ongoing water and sanitation challenges provide an excellent context to demonstrate effective solutions for inclusive urban development while maximising value for money and providing a foundation for broader urban transformation.

The pilot’s objectives: fostering multi-sector partnership to tackle major resilience challenges

Co-creating an innovative city-region integrated systems planning tool of to help tackle major resilience challenges.

This pilot was part of the Future Cities Africa Programme – 2014/16, to help cities to take an integrated approach to managing the risks and development needs they face.

GAMA was one of eight cities chosen in four African countries (Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda). Stakeholders identified that water and sanitation was the biggest resilience challenge facing GAMA at the time.

The rewards: a suitable modelling environment to run scenarios, ask questions about, and design potential solutions to the GAMA’s regional WASH challenges.

The prototype is part of a multi stage development trajectory with three phases, after which the model will be released, as free to use.

  • Phase 1: Prototype development
  • Phase 2: Scale model logic to a full economy, covering all sectors 
  • Phase 3: Testing and validation in multiple country locations

The approach

Our first step was to ensure the single sector model prototype was fit for purpose and deemed useful and relevant to local stakeholders.

To this end, we delivered a series of activities, designed to boost local stakeholders’ integrated systems knowledge and build civic capacity, including:


  • An inaugural workshop to engage across sectors and assesses stakeholder needs.
  • Convening an expert technical working group (the “collaborator”), who led a learning journey in integrated systems planning and decision-making. The focus of this cross-sector team was on designing systems-level solutions to water and sanitation challenges in GAMA.

Tools and techniques used

We provided a suitable modelling environment for the team to run scenarios, ask questions about, and design potential solutions to the key regional WASH challenges.

The prototype is driven by data and assumptions on population, behaviours, service provision, risk and economics and run scenarios for between one and 20 year projections.

An iterative, collaborative process led to three case studies being rigorously tested to understand, at a systems level, how best to achieve sustainable water and sanitation developments in the GAMA.

Results calculations and assumptions for, policy briefings and private sector perspectives on the applicability of the based on three modelling scenarios:

  • Scenario 1 – Envisioning outcomes of ongoing WASH projects and steps to meet macro-level WASH targets including analysis of existing and proposed investments.
  • Scenario 2 – Examine the possibilities and costs of increasing household access to improved potable water to achieve SDG 6: 100% access to clean water.
  • Scenario 3 – Increase availability of clean, accessible, and affordable toilet infrastructure.

The following datasets were collected to describe the social, physical and economic interactions for the Water and Sanitation system in GAMA and are available on the open Africa data platform, including:

  • sociodemographic
  • behaviour
  • existing service infrastructure
  • locations and access to infrastructure
  • water and energy used (addressed through material and energy balance)
  • economic and environmental costs (capital/operational expenditures and revenues and GHG emissions)
  • new water, sanitation and energy technology performance
Modelling – use of

We codeveloped a comprehensive model of the WASH system in GAMA, based on the systems view below. This includes all the dynamics and interactions between the population, the physical infrastructure (including technologies) and resource flows (pipelines, water sources and waste-water treatment plants) and the economics.

Systems view of the Water and Sanitation challenges faced in GAMA.

Systems view of the Water and Sanitation challenges faced in GAMA.

Target user communities

Relevant ministries with jurisdiction over the provision of goods and services for citizens joined the Collaboratory to use as the repository from which to access planning and design relevant data and information.

The prototype collaborative working in Ghana elicited very positive and high-level advocacy and a strong demand to expand the prototype to cover all cities and regions in Ghana to support their 40-year development planning process with integrated and strategic planning tools.

Pilot results and next steps

A draft investment strategy was produced on how to achieve 100% access to water and sanitation, with the systems view favouring centralised water supply infrastructure and decentralised wastewater treatment and sanitation infrastructure.

Conclusions were made in accordance to the 3 scenarios:

Scenario 1
Centralised clean water supply is most efficient. A total investment of 1 billion USD is required to achieve this goal.
Although investing in the waste water system resulted in an increase in GHG emissions, when the project was beginning in 2010, water treatment levels were 0%. A cost-effective decentralised WASH system development would amount to 0.4 Billion USD total investment costs – due to the use of smaller-scale systems such as aerated lagoons and local activated sludge treatment.

Scenario 2
Discovered that a decentralised pipe provision scenario was less expensive, offering more jobs to local communities. Decentralised borehole technology requires maintenance of individual structures, with the opportunity for the creation of up to 4173 jobs by 2025.
The environmental impacts were radically decreased by having access to a local source of potable water. This is due to the reduction in greenhouse gases, and decreased sachet water use, predicted to create 153 tonnes of plastic waste per day in 2025.

Scenario 3
Decentralised toilet water treatment technologies such as aerated lagoon treatment plants and faecal sludge polymer separation drying plants are successful in achieving the 100% waste-water target.
Decentralised toilet systems are significantly less expensive, costing 0.41 billion USD over a 20-year period from 2010-2030, compared to the private toilet sector, which would cost over 2.98 billion USD in the same time-frame.
Decentralised public-sector toilets also offer the opportunity for creating up to 270 million USD collected as revenue in the 20-year time frame. An estimated 1753 jobs could also be created through the decentralised treatment model.

This strategy was presented to and welcomed by the Ministry of Finance, who wish to extend the work to all districts in Ghana, to harness systems level solutions to achieve major savings on infrastructure costs whilst achieving Ghana’s sustainable development objectives.

The project established a strong network of over 400 individuals from government, private academic and community sectors, which was built through in-country and remote support.



Contact us about this project

Any questions about this project? Get in touch with us at

Waste to Energy strategy in the Hunter: exploring innovative solutions for a sustainable future in the Lower Hunter

City region: Upper and Lower Hunter Valley, Australia

The challenge to people and the environment

The impacts of climate change and the long-term introduction of a price on carbon fuels mean cities need to find sustainable energy solutions – and fast.

As populations in city regions expand, the demand for sustainable energy from waste products will grow, in response to increased waste output, water shortages and demands for energy. This is leading many cities to explore a shift to a circular economy.

Identifying a solution: Waste to energy (WtE)

Water utilities such as Hunter Water are vulnerable to many risks posed by climate change and weather, but these companies are also well equipped to explore sustainable development strategies like converting waste to energy (WtE), which will benefit millions.

The pilot’s objectives: Explore waste-to-energy as a solution to a set of regional challenges

Australian State Owned Corporation Hunter Water partnered with Resilience Brokers to explore with industry experts, academia and the private sector a systems approach to WtE in the Hunter region.

The pilot’s objectives were to explore how systems thinking and modelling could help assess the potential for a WtE strategy that supports economic and environmental targets for the region.

Resilience Brokers, Hunter Water and key stakeholders from the region worked collaboratively to “explore how systems thinking can identify new opportunities and innovative solutions for a sustainable future in the Lower Hunter.”

The rewards: embracing a sustainable future for the region

Hunter Water provides drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and some stormwater services to a population approaching 600,000 people in homes and businesses across the Lower Hunter.

The project was designed to contribute to the New South Wales Government’s vision for the Lower Hunter of embracing a sustainable future for the region, balancing environmental, economic and social outcomes so that quality of life can be enhanced without burdening future generations.

The approach

The project consisted of a series of meetings and workshop with multiple stakeholders, facilitated by the Resilience Brokers’ team, to:

  • identify opportunities for collaborative
  • learning and integrated planning and design.
  • review demonstration of systems modelling and digital tools
  • explore WtE as a solution to a set of regional challenges
  • identify investment opportunities and business models for WtE infrastructure and policy solutions
Tools and techniques used

We focussed on a systems modelling approach, using the software framework to better understand regional resource flows and systems interlinkages.
Data modelling informed the design of interventions for the region, incorporating resources, technologies and networks as well as behavioural and economic aspects


The data, as well as simulated scenarios generated in this prototype, can be extended in detail to lead to data-driven, systems-level investment plans to support the delivery of multiple regional objectives.

Target user communities

Main aspirations in the Upper Hunter region are air quality, the transition of jobs and industries due to the closing of coal and power infrastructure, and a shift to a circular economy.

The Lower Hunter region is prioritising regional economic development and transition with a metropolitan plan for Newcastle, including: regional land zoning and transport provision; considerations of the freight and port strategy for exports; imports and resource flows; and an overall circular economy strategy.

Pilot results and next steps

After six months of exploration, data gathering, specialist modelling work and scenario analysis, we produced a feasibility report. This report includes an example of a systems modelling approach to assess the potential for WtE strategies.

The systems approach presented in the report is as a starting point for the exploration of different visions and futures for waste-to-energy solutions, with local stakeholders at the centre of the decision-making process.



Contact us about this project

Any questions about this project? Get in touch with us at

Flooding and subsidence risks to infrastructure and asset management

City region: Stirling, Union Canal, Scotland

The challenge to people and the environment

Our cities are more at risk of flooding and subsidence due to fast-changing human and natural environmental pressures like population growth and climate change.

Growing populations in city regions and the affects of climate change mean the threat of flooding and subsidence will continue to increase. The growing number of news stories from across the world covering flood devastation to people and the environment is proof of this.

We need to come up with new and innovative ways to predict and manage risk flood and subsidence risk.

Identifying a solution: Earth observation data

Technological advances such as satellite-derived Earth observation data can help cities better predict the environmental impact of change – and build resilience. This type of data allows for hyper-detailed mapping, monitoring and analysis of the natural landscapes and the built environment.

We partnered with Scottish Canals, and Rezatec, a provider of geospatial data analytics, to design and deliver a pilot investigation with a focus on a key aspect of resilience development: flooding and subsidence risks to infrastructure and asset management. We called this the Urban Resilience Geo-Data platform (URGED platform). The project was co-funded by the European Space Agency and in partnership with Rezatec.

The pilot’s objectives: URGED would demonstrate the value of satellite data sources in enabling strategic investment and decision-making to support more resilient critical infrastructure asset management and development pathways

The aim was to make a profound contribution to city-regional economic, environmental and human wellbeing.

This predictive decision-support tool for urban design and planning would cover:

  • identification of flood hazard
  • assessment of exposure to flood hazard
  • relative estimation of urban flood vulnerability
  • updated flood risk associated with urban, rural land cover scenarios
The rewards: enabling cities to become more resilient to environmental and social changes

Incorporating new satellite data sources to machine learning technology and techniques can help cities to withstand environmental and social challenges. It can also boost new commercial opportunity and economic development.

The approach

The Resilience Brokers team was responsible for overall project coordination and report development. Rezatec (UK Services) Ltd provided analysis and Earth Observation expertise, and the services of the URGED platform. Scottish Canals shared datasets and detailed requirements.

As Andrew Simmons of Resilience Brokers explains: “Earth observation data and other information play increasingly important roles in research, policy and decision making for cities, notably in areas of urban resilience and climate-change adaptation.”

Tools and techniques used

The pilot investigation using data, and analytics to effectively support asset management and resilience for a well-defined study location was applied to the Scottish Canals asset network. Tools and techniques used included:

  • EO, raster analyses: ERDAS Imagine, Harris ENVI and SARscapeand SNAP;
  • Vector data mgt: FME, QGIS, GDAL and PostGIS;
  • Hydrological analyses: MIKE FLOOD, WhiteBox;
  • Time series and forecasting: R-Shiny / R-Studio.

This resulted in the following outputs: Soil subsidence, soil moisture, downslope risk analysis report.

Target user communities

URGED targeted three user communities and their uses:

  1. Water Utilities use URGED for monitoring ground movement, vegetation encroachment and pipeline risk — for better pip management.
  2. Urban Infrastructure Management, to identify locations where potential infrastructure failure may result in significant damage to built-up areas.
  3. Town /City Authorities, to map Urban Green Spaces, which have an important role providing recreation and tourism locations; controlling urban climate including temperature and air quality; and increasing the health and wellbeing in the city population.
Pilot results and next steps

Results showed the efficacy of how satellite monitoring of critical assets can help with risk assessments and resilient infrastructure management.

EO data can give infrastructure and utility managers a greater understanding of risks, in this case of flooding and slope risks, in order to better plan and maintain their assets and networks. He concluded with the case for investing in EO data leading to greater infrastructure productivity, which through integrated planning can translate into a saving of up to 40% of the cost of the infrastructure needed to deliver the Sendai Framework and Global Goals.

Following the delivery of the pilot, Scottish Canals are considering to adopt this tool as a part of their asset management approach.

Rezatec have developed a commercial offering using the URGED platform and have designed a digital interface for the platform.



Contact us about this project

Any questions about this project? Get in touch with us at


Integration: City region, Earth systems and technology -
  • City-region scale integrated systems modelling of human, cultural, social, ecological health, including soils and nutrients, economics and resources.
  • Earth scale integrated systems modelling of weather, climate, ocean, biosphere and landscape dynamics.

The intuitive user interfaces of will provide easy access to and growing understanding of the complexities and planetary context of each city region. Integrated data systems and structures in city regions will add value by helping stakeholders identify areas where they can reduce development costs and ensure that we are on track to achieving our targets (eg., Global Goals metrics) Technology and social innovations will be modelled and made available through Apps to enable other city regions to access and use them. This will give businesses, universities and entrepreneurs an added incentive to develop great ideas in their own city region, knowing the potential for scaling both locally and globally.

Intelligence: Knowledge and interdisciplinary research
  • Global, sectoral and local research initiatives aimed to ‘plug the gaps’ in existing interdisciplinary research to support collaborative, evidence-based, systems-level interventions.
  • Coordination across research institutions and councils–including integration across the social and natural sciences–to achieve maximum impact.

Through linking in local research, indigenous wisdom and citizen science and data, we will foster shared ownership and support the move from knowledge to action. This workstream will deliver impact and effective evaluations of the Programme’s interventions. It will also support the establishment of a global knowledge sharing network to feed learnings back into new practice.

Implementation: Collaboration, capacity and scaling
  • Establish collaboratories (collaborative laboratories).
  • Set up regional hubs to facilitate and scale city-region demonstrators.

Collaboratories will convene and network government, business, community, faith and academia communities in all 200 target city regions. Resilience Brokers will equip these cross-sector teams with the tools, training and support they need to work collaboratively to make informed decisions that reflect systems impacts that cascade across sectors. Collaboratories Activity will be coordinated through regional hubs which will contribute to capacity building, disciplined learning and innovation and practices that scales  city regions, globally. Regional hubs will facilitate a number of city-region demonstrators–with the appropriate culture and language variations–to improve networking and collective learning. We therefore anticipate that different versions of the platform will evolve locally to suit the needs of different cultures and regions.

Investment: Project aggregation, capital mobilisation and insurance
  • Help to establish Urban Development Investment Funds (UDIFs) in city regions
  • Aggregation of projects at city-region scale
  • Private sector engagement
  • Innovative funding model

UDIFs will enable the redirection of global capital flows into aggregations of resilient, risk-reduced initiatives to improve city-region development. We will engage the private sector through the promotion of innovations in project finance; insurance and risk-financing (including cooperative and mutual micro-finance and insurance); and the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Aggregation of projects at city-region scale is expected to reduce total investment cost to deliver the Global Goals by up to 40%*. Savings can be achieved through:

  • decentralised energy supply and storage systems,
  • integrating built environment change with urban mobility and human wellbeing,
  • wastewater recycling and flood management linked to ecological restoration and redesigning, and
  • recycling and reusing resources and existing assets within a circular economy.

(*Globally scaling up systems approaches to city region investment can reduce overall spending by up to 40% was a key finding of the analysis in:

Supporting activities
We have identified certain audiences inviting a more targeted approach. We have developed a set of additional supporting activities aimed to target and engage with these groups in more depth: Working with partners who have access to global networks of young people, we plan to create a cohort of young global leaders within the Programme. We are also planning a gaming and education version of, designed to engage with young people and other community members and help them understanding of how their region works. We expect to encourage high levels of youth participation in the planning and design of the city regions where they live. Our innovation and technology scaling process will support social and technical entrepreneurs to model their innovations and make them available to all the Programme’s city regions, as platform Apps.