In a new approach, to acknowledge the multi-level nature of resilience, risks at the relevant levels are taken into account, (regional/river basin, urban area, and individual). For these levels, the authors first describe the different components of risk, vulnerability and resilience of the WASH system that influence people’s exposure to hazards. They illustrate these components using examples from case studies in the literature.

Using a social learning lens – a crucial ingredient of resilience – they examine opportunities for reducing risks through improving public–private engagement. These are presented as strategies which could guide investment decisions: As pressures from climate change and development add up, businesses must become aware of the risks involved in operating and investing without considering ecosystem health, both in terms of the services they provide for mitigating floods and droughts, as well as in terms of the development approaches that define how ecosystems are managed (e.g. “making space” for, rather than controlling water).

There is a need to develop an institutional culture that strives towards greener and more resilient urban environments with the help of various quality assurance methods. Partnerships must reach the poorer customer base, encourage informal small entrepreneurs, and boost financial mechanisms (e.g. micro-insurance, micro-finance) to support the most vulnerable in society.

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