Water Nexus Policy Strategic Planning

Water is a truly cross-sectorial resource that has an impact on population well-being, economic growth, and the environment. Developing resilient (“no-regret”) water strategies given conflicting interests and great uncertainty is of the highest importance for the sustainable development of any country. Feasible policies should reconcile conflicting interests of different sectors and different stakeholders and should take a proper account of immense uncertainty about the future availability of water resources and key factors, which impact it.

© Kovrdza | Dreamstime.com

© Kovrdza | Dreamstime.com

This project was conducted by IIASA in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with financial support from the Government of Norway.


This project aims to aid decision-makers in the water sector to acquire a deeper understanding of the role of uncertainty in decision making, to gain experience in developing a resilient water strategy as well as to raise their awareness about strategic planning methods taking into account the nexus of water with other sectors – notably, food and energy. The project scope and selection of trainees explored synergies with ongoing work on water by the partners: for instance, the OECD GREEN Action Task Force was engaged in the European Union Water Initiative plus (EUWI+) programme funded by the EU and implemented in the Eastern Partnership countries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Under the EUWI+, several beneficiary countries requested support to develop or update national water strategies or mid-term plans and respective work supported by a capacity development component was included in the EUWI+ Work Plan. A training workshop on conventional strategic planning methodology was then held in Minsk in April 2018.

IIASA research

The approach employed in this project builds on a fusion of a number of qualitative systems analysis methods, including multi-criteria decision analysis, systems mapping, morphological analysis, scenario building, and robust decision-making. It enables a group of stakeholders and experts to collectively produce a set of agreed strategic objectives, analyze enabling factors which allow them to achieve these objectives, and understand key uncertainties involved in the underlying processes and derive robust policies.


IIASA, in partnership with the OECD, developed and made available for potential users a gamified participatory approach to strategic planning aimed at devising such robust water strategies by eliciting collective wisdom of relevant experts and stakeholders. A working paper based on the outcomes of the project was published.

Strelkovskii, N. , Ilmola-Sheppard, L., Komendantova, N. , Martusevich, A., & Rovenskaya, E. (2019). Navigating through deep waters of uncertainty: Systems analysis approach to strategic planning of water resources and water infrastructure under high uncertainties and conflicting interests. IIASA Research Report. Laxenburg, Austria: RR-19-004

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Last edited: 18 March 2020


Nikita Strelkovskii

Research Scholar Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

Research Scholar Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program


Elena Rovenskaya

Program Director and Principal Research Scholar Advancing Systems Analysis Program




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