Enhancing water-system resilience

The Water (WAT) Program has extended work begun by the Global Water Systems Project, which focuses on human and ecosystem water security and assessing the investments required to enhance the resilience of the global water system over a 100-year time period.

© Lawrence W Stolte | Dreamstime

© Lawrence W Stolte | Dreamstime

This research extends the work of the Global Water Systems Project, published in Nature in 2010 [1], and includes several refinements to the original work, such as mapping future threats to humans and ecosystems using scenarios developed within the Water Futures and Solutions Initiative.

In 2014, WAT delivered a first set of various global drivers data, indicators and scenario storylines for the ongoing Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) assessment process. The program’s researchers also developed projections of water availability, changes to irrigated area, and cropland use for a Middle of the Road (SSP2) scenario and provided spatially detailed trajectories of crop and livestock production intensity. This work served in 2015 as input data for mapping human water security. Furthermore, projections of the global food and agriculture system were used in two additional SSP scenarios, Sustainability (SSP1) and Regional Rivalry (SSP3).

WAT’s work has continued to improve understanding of the geography of water-related ecosystem services, while accounting for both biophysical and economic controls on services.


[1] Vörösmarty CJ, McIntyre PB, Gessner MO, Dudgeon D, Prusevich A, Green P, Glidden S, Bunn SE, et al. (2010). Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity. Nature 467: 555–561. 


City University New York (CUNY), USA

Global Water Systems Project (GWSP), Germany

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), USA

University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

University of Bonn, Center for Development Research, Germany

Griffith University, Australia

National Nature Science Foundation of China (NSFC), China 

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Last edited: 09 March 2016


Günther Fischer

Distinguished Emeritus Research Scholar Water Security Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program

Research program

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