Threats to freshwater resources and human water security

In 2014 the Water (WAT) Program worked on a project to improve the current understanding of the geography of water-related ecosystem services, while accounting for both biophysical and economic controls on services; it will also assess how new management strategies can enhance the resilience of the global water system over a 100-year time frame.

© Lilyling1982 | Dreamstime

© Lilyling1982 | Dreamstime

The project is an extension of work done by the Global Water Systems Project (GWSP), published in Nature in 2010 [1]. Several refinements and extensions are being made to the original work, including mapping threats to humans and ecosystems into the future using scenarios developed within the Water Futures and Solutions Initiative.

In 2014 WAT delivered finalized driver data, indicators and scenarios, quantified scenario projections of water availability, changes in irrigated areas and land use, and water demands. Human water security and downstream population served by areas with different incident threat scores were mapped.


[1] Vörösmarty CJ, McIntyre PB, Gessner MO, Dudgeon D, Prusevich A, Green P, Glidden S, Bunn SE, Sullivan CA, Reidy Liermann C, Davies PM (2010). Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467, 555–561. doi:10.1038/nature09440


National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

City University New York (CUNY) & the Global Water Systems Project (GWSP), USA

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), USA

University of Wisconsin, USA

University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Germany

Griffith University, Australia

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Last edited: 02 April 2015

Research program

Further information



Research project

Threats to Fresh Water Resources and Human Water Security

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