The Action Agenda for Basin-Connected Cities


The Action Agenda is a holistic approach recognising the water basin as a system advocating equitable allocations, increased efficiencies and connectivity across the respective basin.


Launch: 19 September 2018 at Tokyo IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition

The Action Agenda builds on the Principles for Water Wise Cities – with a focus on how cities can be active water stewards


Tokyo, Japan, 19 September 2018. – The International Water Association (IWA) is launching the Action Agenda for Basin-Connected Cities at the IWA World Water Congress on 19 September 2018 in Tokyo, Japan, at the Water-Wise Hub in the exhibition area. The agenda builds on the Principles for Water Wise Cities, with a focus on how cities can be active water stewards in their wider water basins.

By 2050, 70% of the population will live in urban areas, which is an extra 2.5 billion people living in cities[1]. These cities need to have adequate and safe water supply while also balancing the needs of other users in the catchments they rely on. So it is essential that urban stakeholders of a water basin play a critical role in preserving the freshwater resources on which they depend. A disruption in the supply of freshwater resources to cities can have significant socio-economic, environmental and health consequences.

“The Action Agenda for Basin-Connected Cities provides a unique perspective on how urban areas can actively be involved in securing, protecting and managing their water resource”,  says Katharine Cross, IWA Programme Manager, who has led the development of the document. She elaborates that the Agenda “targets multiple stakeholders with different roles in taking action in improving their water sources and watersheds including water and wastewater utilities, city governments, industry, policy makers and regulators.” These primary stakeholders work with basin organisations, water resources agencies, civil society and environmental groups to ensure equitable and effective water management.

Vladimir Tausanovic, Vice President of the International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River catchment Area (IAWD), comments that “the concept of ’Basin-Connected Cities’ is exactly what we are dealing with within the IAWD. It is a platform for regional cooperation and promotion of best practices in the water sector through sharing of experience and knowledge and learning from each other. Our focus includes the water supply side on the one hand, but also wastewater, flood risk, water resources protection etc. on the other hand.”

The Action Agenda comprises 3 key components:

  1. The drivers for action or risks such as flooding, water scarcity and pollution;
  2. pathways for action through assessment, planning and implementation;
  3. Foundations for action from developing a vision to building capacity to improving governance.


“This Action Agenda is a holistic approach which recognises the basin as a system that allows articulation of the transfer of flows from different and competing water users. Such a systems approach advocates equitable allocations, increased efficiencies and connectivity across the basin” states Kala Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director at IWA.

To support the agenda, IWA showcases best practices and experience of transitioning to a basin-connected city through Basin Stories. With these real case examples and best practices the Association demonstrates how stakeholders are taking part or contributing to sustainable management of water resources. For example, SUNASS, the national water regulator in Peru, together with water utilities and other stakeholders introduces principles and practices to create water wise basins. Another example is the way, how

The International Network of Basin Organisations (INBO), IWA and partners plan to compile these stories into a handbook. To showcase your best practices or learn more, visit:


For more information or interviews, please contact:           

Katharine Cross ,

Marta Jimenez

Ulrike Kelm






The International Water Association is a global knowledge hub for water professionals and anyone concerned about the future of water. It has an over seventy-year heritage connecting water professionals worldwide to find solutions to the world’s water challenges as part of a broader sustainability agenda. As a non-profit organisation with members in more than 130 countries, the IWA connects scientists to practitioners and communities so that pioneering research delivers sustainable solutions. It further fosters technological innovation and drives best practice through international frameworks and standards.


[1] Source: United Nations. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects 2018.

Katharine Cross

Strategy and Partnerships Lead, Australian Water Partnership
Katharine has extensive experience in the water sector from global to local scale with a focus on climate resilience and adaptation, nature-based solutions, water-energy-food nexus,  water governance and the digitalisation of the water sector. She h... Read full biography