The SWITCH Approach to Strategic Planning
The main goal of SWITCH was finding new solutions to increase the efficiency of urban water systems through rethinking old paradigms and developing new solutions. To achieve this goal SWITCH improved the scientific basis and shared knowledge to ensure that future water systems are robust, flexible and adaptable to a range of global change pressures.
A major outcome of the SWITCH project is the development of the ‘SWITCH approach’, that is envisaged to cause a ‘switch’ in urban water management practices, of cities towards sustainability. The SWITCH project adopted a “grey to green” approach, recognising that green infrastructure (like parks and clean rivers) is not only “nice to have”, but also provides “the environmental foundation that underpins the function, health and character of urban communities” (CABE, 2009). The key features of the SWITCH approach are:
- Establishment of city learning alliance platforms – these multi-stakeholder learning alliances guided and supported SWITCH on the development and implementation of research and demonstration activities, by taking account of local problems and needs.
- Implementation of a strategic planning process – this encourages and enables all stakeholders in the city to view the urban water cycle in an integrated way and allows the development of new strategic directions for urban water management.
- Establishment of early-action demonstrations representing different aspects of the water cycle that are designed for up-scaling at both the local and global level.
- Development of a training toolkit with the city learning alliances to maximise the utility and impact of the SWITCH approach.
By adopting a demand-led approach, SWITCH has been able to speed up the process of identification, development, and uptake of solutions related to urban water management. Based on the ‘SWITCH approach’, new solutions have been developed for urban water management which are based on key concepts of urban water management that include: resilience of urban water systems to global change pressures; interventions over the entire urban water cycle; governance and financial management structures, covering the entire urban water cycle; reconsideration of the way water is used (and reused); and greater application of natural systems for water and wastewater treatment.