September 20, 2018 Climate change

Tokyo endorses the International Water Association’s Principles for Water-Wise Cities

  • The signing takes place at the Closing of the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition, on 20 September 2018.

20 September 2018, Tokyo, Japan. The IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities have been mobilising local governments, urban professionals, and individuals around a shared vision to increase resilience in their cities. Since their launch in 2016, fourteen cities have endorsed the Principles, recognizing the importance of collaboratively planning water systems with increased modularity and reduced dependencies to enhance our future cities’ ability to react to unforeseen events and the uncertainties of climate change.

IWA has been working with a variety of stakeholders in Tokyo, Japan for many years on different projects and activities. This year, the city of Tokyo has decided to commit to a water-wise world by publicly giving their endorsement at the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Tokyo. Through this endorsement, the city recognizes the Principles as a relevant framework to further guide their development strategies for a resilient and liveable city in the face of a changing climate, increasing population pressures and a disaster risk management.

In 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan, triggering a massive tsunami of up to 30 metres high, reaching up to 5 kilometers inland (UNEP, 2011). Thousands of people were killed, buildings were destroyed, and millions of tons of waste littered the country. Severe damage to water supply and sewage networks greatly disrupted service provision to citizens.

“The impacts of disasters like the Great East Japan Earthquake cause severe damage to water supply and sewage networks, significantly affecting people’s lives. Emergency actions are necessary to reinstate service provision, but the implementation of hard and soft protective measures is also crucial in order to improve resilience in the long-term”, reflects Mr. Yasuhiro Saito, International Policy Promotion OfficerTokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Waterworks Bureau Planning and Coordination Division.

Last week, a 6.7 earthquake hit Japan’s Hokkaido Island, leaving over 40 people dead, over 600 others injured, and over 10,000 people forced to spend the night at evacuation centres. Following the tremor, many homes were left without water, and the risks of power outages continue to threaten business operations and households.

“As extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change become more severe and frequent, city-to-city exchanges on best practices to adapt to their associated risks is vital. Cities endorsing the Principles are becoming part of a water-wise network that can support each other in actively preparing for and finding solutions to urban water management challenges,” said Corinne Trommsdorff, IWA Cities of the Future Programme.

Tokyo is now well-placed to be a leader working towards global change agendas.