10 October 2013

The future of water research

IIASA’s Chief Executive Officer and Director Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, outlined the need for new science, new visions, and new partnerships to tackle global water challenges at the Budapest Water Summit.

Pavel Kabat speaks at Budapest Water Summit 2013 © IIASA

Pavel Kabat speaks at Budapest Water Summit 2013 © IIASA

Kabat spoke at the opening ceremony of the Budapest Water Summit where 1200 speakers and participants, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Hungarian President János Áder, have gathered to discuss water solutions.

Today’s water challenges are tougher to solve than ever in history. Half the world’s population suffers from absent or unreliable water supply, poor sanitation or irrigation services, unmitigated floods and droughts, or degraded water environments. Our interconnected world means the impact of such events are felt across the world in ways ranging from supply chain failures to political instability. Rapidly changing economies, populations and climate are making matters more complex.

“Finding long lasting solutions to such complex global water problems requires a new approach,” argues Kabat. “This new approach requires integrative science, detailed visions of what water future we want to reach, and innovative partnerships to involve all parties that can make a difference. The notion that water is a local problem which primarily requires local solutions is still governing most of the investments by large donors. This needs to be challenged. In fact, water is part of our increasingly connected and inter-linked global system, including the key economic trends and indicators. We also need to revisit the possibility of establishing a mechanism for global water governance, grounded in the best system and integrative science that we have."

The Water Futures and Solutions (WFaS) initiative, established by IIASA and four partners, brings together these elements in a five year project:

  • It pioneers an interdisciplinary approach that combines future water scenarios with cutting-edge global modeling across sectors to seek breakthroughs in problem understanding and the development of solutions.
  • It works with the development community to use science to find policies and practices that work in poor regions of the world that are characterized by complex hydrology, information scarcity and institutional weakness.
  • It provides business with the evidence base for water-related risk reduction and management to ensure predictable costs of doing business and support long-term investment.

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Last edited: 28 October 2013


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