Towards sustainable Water Resources Management: Improving the City Blueprint assessment framework
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The impact of climate change, urbanization and water pollution due to urban waste and wastewater, may cause flooding, water scarcity, adverse health effects, and rehabilitation costs that can exceed the carrying capacity of cities. Currently, there is no internationally standardized indicator framework for integrated water resources management (IWRM) at the city level. The City Blueprint (CB) is a first attempt of such a framework. It is also a first step in enhancing the transition towards water wise cities. In this thesis, a four step revision of CB indicator framework has been executed based on data for 32 cities: 1) A distinction has been made between trends and pressures (on which the city’s IWRM has a negligible influence) and IWRM performances. Therefore, a separated framework has been developed that indicates the most prominent trends and pressures; 2) The CB data accuracy has been assessed and new indicators have been selected; Moreover, the performance framework has been reconstructed to arrive at an approximately proportional contribution of all indicators and categories to the overall score, i.e. the Blue City Index (BCI). This was done by analyzing correlations and variances, as well as by balancing and regrouping the different indicators of the CB; 3) Next, a suitable aggregation method has been selected for the performance framework; 4) Finally, correlation coefficients have been calculated between the improved BCI (BCI*) and other city descriptors. Six indicators have been removed because of data inaccuracy, overlap / redundancy, or lack of focus on IWRM. Seven indicators have been added, i.e., secondary and tertiary wastewater treatment, operation cost recovery, green space and three indicators belonging to the category solid waste treatment. Furthermore, the geometric aggregation method has been selected and applied because it emphasizes the integrative nature of IWRM by penalizing unbalanced indicator scores. The BCI* showed high correlations with ND-GAIN climate readiness index (r=0.89), GDP (r=0.86), environmental awareness (r=0.82) and the World Bank governance indicators. The trends and pressure framework has been developed to provide a context to the IWRM performance of cities and is centered around the social, financial and environmental trends and pressures for each city. The variance of the BCI* is a factor 2.35 higher than the BCI because it is more performance-oriented. Hence, the potential gain in the sustainability of urban IWRM by sharing best practices, is better emphasized.