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


Paula Abarca del Rio profile picture

Paula Abarca del Rio

Program and Project Officer (WAT)

Dor Fridman profile picture

Dor Fridman

Research Scholar (WAT)

Samar Asad profile picture

Samar Asad

Guest Research Assistant (WAT)

Angela Ghilascu profile picture

Angela Ghilascu

Program and Project Officer (WAT)


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.
Fishermen casting a net in Lake Victoria at a bright sunset. Uganda

03 October 2023

Enhancing knowledge and capacity on water quality in Uganda

Deteriorating water quality poses major threats to human health, economic development, and local ecosystems in Uganda. The Ugandan government is working with international scientists to build up knowledge and enhance institutional capacity for better water quality management, as well as improve the understanding of water quality status in the country. 
Aerial over a narrow stream with strong current on dry land.

12 September 2023

Water quality deteriorating in rivers worldwide

Climate change and increases in drought and rainstorms pose serious challenges to water management, not only in terms of the quantity of water, but also its quality. However, according to the most recent IPCC report, our current understanding of this issue is inadequate. To fill this gap, an international group of scientists has brought together a large body of research on water quality in rivers worldwide.



08 November 2023

Adapting water needs for agriculture in South Africa

Options Magazine, Winter 2023: In many parts of the world, access to freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce. Nowhere is this truer than in South Africa, which experienced a significant drought from 2015 to 2018.

23 June 2023

Into the great wide open

Options Magazine, Summer 2023: By opening up access to science, IIASA is sparking new insights into our planet’s health.
Options Magazine Summer 2023 cover