Over 80% of all climate change caused urgencies and calamities are water related. That's exactly why it can be argued that water-issues offer opportunities, that tackling water related challenges can and should be used as leverage for more comprehensive change, for realizing transformative projects everywhere and on every scale.

Water as Leverage
Water represents man’s most challenging and complex risk. Floods and draughts, pollution and water conflicts combine in conceivably disastrous ways with rapid urbanization, a growing demand for food and energy, migration, and climate change.
But while the water challenges carry with them the risk of disruptive transitions they also offer us the opportunity to use water as leverage for transformative impact. Only a better understanding of the complex risks will allow us to de-risk the world effectively. Recognizing that water can also be used as leverage helps us find opportunities for real change, for transformative projects everywhere and on every scale.

To identify and initiate such projects, in 2016 George Brugmans, the president of the IABR, and Henk Ovink, the Dutch Water Envoy, signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Subsequently they launched the Water as Leverage initiative which was soon endorsed by Joachim Declerck, representing Architecture Workroom Brussels.
Previous collaborations of these three partners, all curators of the 5th IABR: Making City (2012), accumulated expertise on process and design, feasibility and applicability. From Rotterdam to Istanbul, from Albania to Flanders, São Paulo to Mexico City, Groningen to Brabant, and most noticeably in the Post-Sandy ‘Rebuild by Design’ trajectory on the East Coast of the USA, their design-driven methodology has proven to add value, deepen insights and build agency for sustainable change and transformation.

The first project, launched by the Water Envoy on November 9, 2017 at COP23, is Water as Leverage for Resilient Cities: Asia.

WaL/Asia Regional Workshop in Singapore

The World Water Atlas is initiated by the Water Envoy, and delivered by the IABR, Deltares and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2018 as a component of the action plan of the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water (HLPW).

And IABR opted for Water as Leverage as one of the two main theme's of IABR–2020–DOWN TO EARTH.