Home to the majority of the world’s population, it is increasingly recognized that the battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities.

Urban areas concentrate and magnify many of the key challenges captured in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Across the globe, responses to emerging 21st century challenges continue to rely on the entrenched technocratic approaches of the 20th century, in many cases perpetuating existing institutional regimes and conventional water management approaches, rather than adopting more integrated, decentralized and innovative place-based approaches.

In the developed world, many strategies devised to meet emerging urban water challenges are encumbered by this ‘path-dependent lock-in’ where institutional legacy limits the range of acceptable solutions/interventions to only those that fit within the existing institutional paradigm.