The Safe & SuRe Framework 

The Safe & SuRe interventions framework illustrated in Figure 1 provides a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between threats and their consequences. It enables opportunities for intervention to be identified in order to design a more resilient water system. It addresses the emerging threats, the intervening water system, impacts on system performance (expressed as levels of service), and the social, economic, and environmental consequences of the level of service failure. It aims to provide greater clarity to decision makers, allowing better informed choices to be made. The framework also connects the additional global challenges of climate change, energy, food production, agriculture, and health; all of which may be threats to water management and/or consequences of water system failure.

The urbanisation framework example in Figure 1 illustrates its use to the threat of increasing urbanisation. The framework and concepts can be applied to many different systems and sub-systems including water supply, wastewater treatment, urban wastewater systems, and flood management applications.  

Figure 1: The Safe & SuRe interventions framework applied to the threat of increasing urbanisation.


The Safe & SuRe Interventions

The framework allows for the identification of the role and need for four types of intervention strategies: Mitigation, Adaptation, Coping, and Learning. These intervention strategies enable water problems and challenges to be addressed in a holistic manner. They provide a logical foundation for the analysis of reliability, resilience and sustainability, enabling greater consistency in assessment methodologies and methodical identification of opportunities for intervention.  

The four types of intervention are defined as follows: 

Mitigation interventions address the link between threat and system and are defined here as any physical or non-physical action taken to reduce the frequency, magnitude or duration of a threat. They are typically long-term actions.

Adaptation interventions address the link between the system and impact and are defined here as any action taken to modify specific properties of the system to enhance its capability to maintain levels of service under varying conditions. These actions can be undertaken before, during or after an event and aim to reduce level of service failures under a given system failure.

Coping intervention addresses the link between impact and consequence. It is defined here as any preparation or action taken to reduce the frequency, magnitude or duration of the effects of an impact on a recipient (people, nature, financial etc.).

Learning is the embedding of experiences and new knowledge into best practice, and is necessary since the negative consequences of a threat cannot be eliminated entirely by mitigation, adaptation, and coping. Unlike the other interventions, it doesn’t need to address a specific threat, impact, or consequence. There are many approaches to learning, which can include learning from past events, developing pilot schemes to generate new knowledge for best practice, and learning from others. Good data collection and effective communication strategies can also facilitate learning. In all cases, it is important that lessons are learnt from both good and bad practices.

Safe & SuRe: Moving away from the traditional one direction analysis

The Safe & SuRe framework facilitates analysis in different ‘directions’ as illustrated in (Figure 2) and to this end multiple applications are being explored.

Figure 2: The Safe & SuRe framework facilitates analysis in different ‘directions’ 


Top-down analysis is threat based and mitigation focussed and relies on identification of potential threats that may then be embedded in the planning process. Top-down methods move clockwise around the framework, typically from threat (urbanisation in the example of Figure 1) to impact or threat to consequence. Risk assessment, for example, typically uses a top down approach to evaluate the effects of a given threat (whether on level of service or society, economy, and the environment).

The Middle based approach shifts the emphasis from identification and analysis of multiple threats to the more easily identifiable and measurable response of the level of service provision to system failure. The key benefit here is that multiple threats that result in the same system failure mode can be addressed with a single analysis, thereby enabling a more comprehensive resilience assessment and improving the adaptation development process.

Bottom-up analysis is conventionally consequence based and coping focussed, starting with identification of potential social, economic, or environmental consequences and progresses anticlockwise around the framework.

The final analysis approach facilitated by this framework considers the threats, system, impact, and consequences as part of a Circular arrangement, with a focus on learning. This addresses all components of the framework because, where mitigation, adaptation, and coping actions have been implemented as part of a comprehensive strategy, assessment of their efficacy is vital to inform learning and ensure that strategies, processes, and actions are updated.