Water Futures and Solutions Initiative

The Water (WAT) Program carried out fast-track analysis for the IIASA Futures Initiative, the Water Futures and Solutions Initiative (WFaS), completing a first set of multi-model quantified scenarios of water demand in 2014 that focused on the domestic, industrial, and energy sectors.

© Bbofdon | Dreamstime

© Bbofdon | Dreamstime

The WFaS Initiative is a stakeholder-informed, scenario-based assessment of water resources and water demand. Scientists use ensembles of state-of-the-art socioeconomic and hydrological models to test water management and policy options that can be implemented today, are sustainable and robust across a range of possible futures and associated uncertainties, and coherent across sectors and management scales.

Quantitative analysis

The WFaS initiative has a so-called fast track analysis running from January 2014 to March 2015. The fast tracking seeks to use available ongoing research to develop a set of (preliminary) quantitative water projections consistent with global scenario processes in other sectors—specifically the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) and the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and associated climate model projections—that were developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report and beyond. They also take account of developments in population and gross domestic product (GDP).

New multi-model scenario quantifications of water demands were produced to quantify scenario outcomes, indicate the locations and magnitude of future water challenges, and support the deliberations of the WFaS stakeholder process.

Uncertainties and knowledge gaps in the state-of-the-art tools were assessed, and WAT applied its hydro-economic classification system to indicate challenges and uncertainties. Work also began on testing a few cross-sector tradeoffs and options. These included i) water-related climate change impacts on thermal electricity production potential; ii) trade-offs between human and ecosystems water security; and iii) impacts and costs of water infrastructure developments used for managing variability and demand, and also improving efficiencies.

Qualitative analysis

In 2014 SSP storylines were extended with stories and qualitative assumptions on the implications of the SSPs for water availability and demand. Notably, the WAT team developed and quantified scenarios of new irrigated areas, which were not considered in recent scenario analyses of water availability and demand.

Nexus research

WAT scientists enhanced the socioeconomic storylines of the new scenarios with water-related elements and participated in a number of projects aimed at understanding water-food-energy-ecosystem-society linkages as part of a new project to examine the food-energy-water nexus.

WAT also explored existing water-related methodologies and data currently in use and proposed enhancements for implementation in WFaS.

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Last edited: 02 April 2015

Research program

Further information



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313