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


Maryna Strokal profile picture

Maryna Strokal

Guest Research Scholar (WAT)

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Amin Elshorbagy

Guest Research Scholar (WAT)

No image available

Jose Albiac

Guest Research Scholar (WAT)

Barbara Willaarts profile picture

Barbara Willaarts

Research Scholar (WAT)


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.
Danube river

22 August 2023

Challenges ahead: navigating climate change and water management

Freshwater is vital for humans, ecosystems, and economies. However, climate and socio-economic changes are expected to substantially alter water availability. A pioneering study emphasizes considering future water withdrawals in low flow projections, highlighting the urgency of coordinated efforts to reduce excessive extraction in European rivers.


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

22 June 2023

Using multi-sector transformation to replenish the Indus River Basin

Options Magazine, Summer 2023: Using an integrated water-energy-land system model on multi-sector transformations, IIASA researchers seek to enhance environmental flows in the Indus River Basin.
The Indus River Basin
Illustration of different natural disasters

21 October 2022

Financial instruments for disaster risk and their effects on economic growth

Julian Joseph writes about a recent study in which researchers used a novel concept in the economic modeling of disaster risk reduction to explore how damages from disasters can be compensated for and what effect they have on economic growth.