The objective of the WAT Group is to provide the scientific foundation needed for addressing the quest for water security across scales and to help bridge science-policy-practice gaps related to water management by leading global efforts on integrated assessment of water resources and exploring transformation pathways towards a water secure future.

Water plays a central role in all human activities and needs to be managed efficiently and sustainably. The WAT Group pushes the boundary of transdisciplinary water science enabled by the institute’s recognized expertise in systems science approaches, to provide the scientific knowledge needed to address the quest for water security. The group aims to lead global efforts on integrated assessment of water supply and demand and identify solutions options that improve water scarcity, ameliorate water quality, and enhance resilience to extreme events, while at the same time engaging with key stakeholders at different levels to translate science into policy.

The group’s research has informed the development of various widely used models, which will continually be refined and extended to enable application and analysis at policy-relevant spatial scales. The group contributes to several IIASA research themes including biodiversity and ecosystem services, production and consumption, technology and innovation, and governance and institutions, by providing the water resources research expertise required for the development of a systemic approach to resolving sustainability issues.

Models, tools, datasets

Water Reservoir

Community Water Model (CWatM)

River liffey in dublin ireland, evening light

Global Hydro-economic Model (ECHO)


Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ)

Glass of water

Water Quality Modeling (WQM)


Uganda Lanscape

Sustainable water quality management supporting Uganda’s development ambitions (SWAQ-Uganda)

Child labor on the Ghanaian market of Abease

Advancing WFaS East Africa: Scaling out resilient water and agricultural systems (scaleWAYS)

African girl drinking clean fresh water from a water tap outdoors

SOS Water- Establishing a Safe Operating Space (SOS) for the global water resources system (SOS Water)

World map with texture on global satellite photo, Earth view from space. Detailed flat map of continents and oceans

The World Bank ECA Regional Water Security Initiative: Development of an Assessment and Preparation of Diagnostic Reports


Sylvia Tramberend profile picture

Sylvia Tramberend

Senior Research Scholar (WAT)

Barbara Willaarts profile picture

Barbara Willaarts

Research Scholar (WAT)

Jenan Irshaid profile picture

Jenan Irshaid

Researcher (WAT, EQU)

Samar Asad profile picture

Samar Asad

Guest Research Assistant (WAT)


Water scarcity

08 July 2024

Efficient water quality management could reduce future water scarcity by half

Global water scarcity, a result of both quantity and quality change, challenges the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. An international team of researchers developed a novel modeling approach to identify cost-effective combinations of water management, promising a substantial reduction in future water scarcity.  
Lancang-Mekong River Basin

10 June 2024

Analyzing the benefits of transboundary cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong River Basin

A new study conducted by IIASA researchers and their colleagues highlights that cooperation in infrastructure operation between countries surrounding the Lancang-Mekong River Basin could bring major economic and environmental co-benefits.
AI generated image in the shape of a water drop - concept of scarce resources

28 November 2023

How can we evaluate the quality of global water models?

IIASA researchers contributed to a new international study that tested the extent to which global water models agree with each other and with observational data. Using a new evaluation approach, the researchers can show in which climate regions the models agree and where they differ.



Butterfly on a pink flower

17 July 2024

Biodiversity lessons from nature

IIASA researchers Silvia Artuso and Juliette Martin reflect on a recent workshop presented at the Institute as part of the IIASA School Engagement Initiative, during which they introduced students to systems analysis and took them on an adventure to explore the amazing biodiversity of Laxenburg park.

27 June 2024

Supporting sustainable agriculture

The soil beneath our feet holds vital information for understanding agriculture, climate, and environmental sustainability. IIASA provides user friendly tools to support decision makers in developing national, regional, and global strategies for food security and the environment.
plant microscope