Climate Change and Water

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1. What control does climate change have on the predictability, uncertainty and security of water?

  • Surface water, Groundwater, Water Demand, Water Quality, Extremes

2. Association of extremes (Floods, droughts, forest fires) with Climate Change

  • Non-stationary intro in extremes
  • Attributions of extremes to Climate Change
  • Interconnections between fires, droughts, floods

3. Adaptive Water Governance

  • Adaptive responses vis-à-vis Climate Change – change in cropping patterns
  • Forest management
  • Crop risk insurance
  • Flood risk insurance
  • Mitigation technologies
  • Dam and Reservoir management

4. Climate change and the global water cycle

5. Mountains and climate change

6. Demand assessment: Agricultural demands/yields affected by Climate Change

7. What improvements to the global predictability of water resources are possible through improved physics, downscaling, data collection and assimilation in models?

8. How do transient changes in snowpacks, glaciers, ground frost, permafrost and vegetation impact mountain and downstream water resource predictions?

9. Deltas and Climate Change

10. Effects of anthropogenic intervention vis-a-vis Climate Change

11. Green Bonds and Climate Change

12. Transboundary Conflicts - Large-scale water allocation, the impact of Irrigation and hydropower projects

13.  Water in the Carbon Cycle

14.  Do sufficient tools and management option exist to deal with climate and development projections and framework provided by global commitment (agenda 2030) for the water resources management systems?


Ecological Management of Water

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1. The confluence of freshwater biodiversity and cultural diversity

  • Nexus of freshwater biodiversity and cultural diversity.
  • Global status and trends.
  • Impacts of flow regime alteration.
  • Knowledge gained from history – Civilizations around great rivers

2. Implementation of Environmental flows: Role of Science, Culture and Values

  • (Cultural) environmental water allocations
  • Novel tools and applications – e.g. ethnomapping, power mapping, monitoring, citizen science, UAVs, AI, machine learning
  • Trade-offs and optimisation, prioritisation
  • River basin planning
  • Surface and groundwater management challenges in meeting e-flows targets

3. Freshwater conservation planning – novel integrative approaches and Big Data.

  • Understanding freshwater Conservation Priorities - integrated data sets, global models
  • mapping freshwater ecosystem services
  • Protected areas and coverage of freshwater ecosystems
  • River classification for understanding priorities
  • Classifying wetland ecosystems for prioritizing restoration of ecosystems

4. Freshwater ecosystems, biodiversity, and meeting targets for the SDGs

  • Tracking SDGs for freshwater biodiversity, ecosystems and water
  • Ecosystem degradation and human water security
  • Ecosystem services and livelihoods.
  • WASH and biodiversity
  • Invasive species

5. How vulnerable is fresh water in the coastal zone of deltas and estuaries?

6. How can we increase catchment resilience under climate change?

  • Socio-Eco hydrological shifts – managing moving boundaries with climate change. The hydrological regime, Ecological and Social shifts.
  • Solutions for resilience
  • Sustainable Himalayas
  • Revival of springs.
  • Urban resilience
  • Focus on ecosystems and natural infrastructure

Groundwater in the Service of Mankind to Retain Resilience under Change

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

  • Groundwater in climate change adaptation, conjunctive management of groundwater & surface water, groundwater-based natural infrastructure
  • Groundwater governance, regulatory mechanisms, the role of institutions, groundwater in the SDGs
  • Groundwater monitoring and assessment, scenarios, the role of online water monitoring, big data, citizen science, water quality data management
  • Groundwater management in urban areas, link to sustainable sanitation and solid  waste handling
  • Arid zone, options for switching to ‘low water use economies’, the role of scarce groundwater, hardrock aquifers
  • Groundwater and solar irrigation
  • Transboundary and offshore aquifers
  • Investment, economic incentives and markets to optimize groundwater use


Measure Sustainability in Water Space

The thematic scope includes the following topics

  • Global sustainability assessment to track SDG 6– How can we move forward with knowns and unknowns?
  • Global hydrological models: The new imperatives and challenges in the era of growing uncertainties.
  • Integrated assessment system toward improvement in understanding energy and water cycles
  • The role of global thresholds in global assessments-How can we create a Science-based target for WATER?
  • Role of a new generation of integrated world water scenarios and Intergenerational models
  • Role of Earth Observation and Artificial Intelligence in measuring sustainability

Resilience in the urban water system

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1. How do we develop and promote resilience in the urban water system?

  • Reliability of systems (Cyberattacks, Natural impacts)
  • Water Tariffs reliability analysis
  • Urban planning and design of urban water systems
  • Risk and vulnerability analysis
  • Impact of different environments of urban areas – Hilly, plains, coastal etc
  • Impact of Migration
  • How can we improve social resilience in the urban setting to extreme events?

2. How do we track urban water challenges in near real time?

  • Techniques to identify leakages, cross-contamination
  • Identification and forecasting of events
  • Smart solutions – real-time flood forecasting, Monitoring technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain analysis

3. How do we assess and improve urban water governance functional performance

  • Near real-time data
  • Citizen Data
  • Smart technology
  • Earth Observation

4. How to shape multi-stakeholder interactions in order to enable good water governance, innovative urban ecosystem

  • Management of supply and demand separately
  • Capacity development skills
  • Role of stakeholders
  • Methodologies to facilitate interactions
  • Co-design and Co-development

5. Understanding the missing links for improved public health and hygiene?

  • Role of environmental sustainability to achieving health targets through the improved water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Links to achieving SDG targets
  • Include WASH, Urban health and well-being group

6. Interactions of water and health, and between water flows, energy and nutrient in different water supply, wastewater and sewerage systems.

  • Reuse, resource recovery – recovery of energy and nutrients
  • Different type of technologies – membrane technology, Nature-based solutions
  • Irrigation return flow – pesticides – How do we monitor?


SDG implementation

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

  • Demonstration of innovation in water engineering technology that jointly addresses human as well as environmental water security.
  • Understanding risks in SDG implementation
  • Financing SDG Implementation - Financing NBS, Public-Private Partnership
  • The Blended Approach: The scientific knowledge gap in planning green and grey Infrastructure decision making
  • How can Integrating Water Resource Management help in accelerating the implementation of SDG 6?
  • Upscaling and downscaling of indicators in SDG monitoring

Water Ethics

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1.  Ethics of Water Allocation

The allocation of water across sectors, and among competing users is a central concern of water governance and entails judgements about core values and ethics.  The overall aim of this topic is to clarify the value choices and share experiences in tools and methods for resolving value conflictsSpecifically, this topic will discuss the following questions and issues:


  • How much water does Nature need?  Calls for 'Nature Needs Half" (Wilson 2017) might sound utopian, but there is little controversy about the importance of maintaining the long-term health of rivers for both people and nature.  How can we mediate across competing values in setting (a) environmental flow targets and/or (b) water quality standards?

  • Protection, conservation, and restoration of water ecosystems is a focus of the Convention on Biodiversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands).  How might an ethics perspective contribute to reconciling the economic and cultural interests of local communities vis a vis the interests of global heritage?

  • Ethics of sacrificing rivers? [How to think about inter-basin water transfers?]

  • What values (and whose values) should be considered in protecting river connectivity from Source to Sea?   Do migratory fish have rights? Do upper watershed communities have moral rights to connected rivers?

  • Protecting local water vs. importing/exporting virtual water through agricultural trade.

  • How should be the principle of "precaution" be applied to risks of water contamination from industry (eg, PFAS and other persistent pollutants) and agricultural chemicals?

  • What are the ethics of allocating water to carbon-intensive fossil energy?  (e.g., fracking, coal-fired power generators)?

[KEYWORDS: rights of nature, environmental flow, pollution, biodiversity]

2.  Water Ethics and Social Justice

The 2010 UN designation of access to safe water and sanitation as a human right raised awareness about water and social justice. The aim of this session is to map the terrain of water justice, document the interconnections with other aspects of water ethics, and suggest new directions for research and practice. Issues to be addressed in this topic include:


  • How is the UN right to water and sanitation being translated into national legal frameworks, and what are the practical results?  What strategies show promise for the practical realization of the right to water?

  • How can the right to water be realized in disaster contexts?

  • Examples of extending legal rights to include access to healthy water ecosystems (wetlands, springs, rivers, lakes, aquifers);

  • Social justice in access to water-related information (e.g., about plans for dams, mines, or other infrastructure developments), and equitable stakeholder participation in water management, governance, and planning.

  • Cases analyzing Indigenous Peoples' sovereignty rights over customary waters and lands, right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and right to cultural practices, as provided in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

[KEYWORDS:  social justice, human rights, cultural rights, safe water, sanitation]


3.  Ethics of Water Governance

The various norms that have emerged as "best practice" in water governance constitute a set of tacit ethical principles which this session will seek to render more explicit.  We expect to discover that we already have a broadly shared code of water ethics, but if we are mistaken, and there really are fundamental disagreements about the ethics of water governance, clarifying the points of disagreement will also be a useful outcome of this session.  Issues to be explored in this topic include:


  • Adoption of “learning protocols" to encourage innovations and learn from experience, as opposed to bureaucratic water governance.

  • Case studies and theoretical discussions of institutions that can promote effective stakeholder participation, gender equity, social justice, and cultural justice.  

  • How is the principle of "Water as a Commons" being applied in laws, policies, and practical cases?  

  • How is the principle of "Precaution" applied in laws, policies, and practical cases?  

  • How can water governance support the principle of resource sustainability?

  • What normative principles underlie the "One-Water" concept?  

  • To what extent is (or should) democracy considered universal ethical principle of water governance?

  • How should the right to information (Aarhaus Convention, Right to Information Act in India) be applied to water governance?

  • Comparative analysis of water policy/legal and institutional regimes of different countries to see how they reflect or not reflect ethical values.

  • Do water decision-makers have an ethical responsibility to apply ethical reasoning to their decisions?  [Analogy with the obligation of medical researchers to consider ethical implications of their decisions]

  • What should be the role for ethics in our water future?

[KEYWORDS: Water ethics, precaution, best practice, One Water]  

4.  Memory, place and identity

What has been, and would could (and should) be the role of water in our lives?  How can our relationship to water become more meaningful? How might water imbue our lives with meaning, and what would a more intimate connection with water imply for our use and management of water and natural water ecosystems?  This topic will explore issues such as:


  • Our relationship to local waters informs our identity and frames our understanding of both nature and society.

  • Designing for water awareness and behavioral change within cityscapes, including daylighting urban streams, incorporating water features into parks and green spaces; fountains; water-oriented architecture (green walls, etc);

  • Restoring rivers, lakes and waterscapes (both rural and urban examples) as a social and ecological renewal (including cases in Bangaluru and other Indian cities?)

  • River restoration links to flood management

  • Cases of using art to raise public awareness about water;

  • Human-water relationships in various art forms (folklore, painting, music, dance, etc.)

  • Respecting Indigenous cultural water rights through processes of "decolonizing water."

  • New concepts of water museums and other ways to convey historical and creative understandings of water to the public

[KEYWORDS:  Water culture, art, awareness, meaning, identity]



Water Governance

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1. Climate - Water governance

  • Role of Climate negotiations on the water landscape

2. How do we bring in the political economy dimension in the water governance narrative?

  • Water reforms, tariffs, rights, laws, regulatory structures, administrative, bureaucratic side, informal structures

3. Diagnostic approaches to water governance

  • Assessment of functional aspects of institutions
  • New ways of conducting research in water governance
  • New theoretical approaches and assessment mechanisms

4. Governance of Dams, Lakes, rivers

5. Role of indigenous people, traditional water governance structures and their interactions with formal mechanisms

6. Water Conflicts and conflict resolution-Transboundary water governance

7. Public-private partnership

8. The democratization of water governance


Water Quality

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics Topics:

1. Water quality governance: from catchment to national and international levels

  • Innovative policy tools, instruments, approaches
  • Effective legal frameworks and their implementation mechanisms
  • Towards sound institutional frameworks
  • Evidence-based decision making (role of water quality data and information)
  • Stakeholder participation (women, local communities, etc.)
  • Societal, ecological and economic values of good water quality

2. Case studies: Measures and best practices to protect and restore good water quality

  • What do you mean by good water quality? Standards and benchmarks
  • Water quality objective setting
  • Stakeholder inputs and scientific gaps
  • Ecosystem-based approaches to water quality improvements (river restoration etc.)
  • Cost-effective approaches

3. Case studies: Innovative solutions for water quality and wastewater management

  • Effective wastewater management and safe reuse (wastewater circular economy)
  • Matching water quality to intended uses

4. Case studies: Innovative tools for water quality monitoring and data management including modelling, generation/compilation and quality control

  • Online water quality monitoring – need and affordability conundrum
  • Water quality monitoring framework –transitioning from spot sample to real-time water quality analysis
  • Improving water quality monitoring instrumentation in a resource-limited setting
  • Water quality data management – the role of Big Data Analytics, IoT (low-cost hardware ), AI, Earth Observations, Citizen Science
  • Role of Water Quality data management to help achieve water safety

5. Water quality services

  • The current operational mechanisms in countries/catchments,
  • What are the services gap and how such a gap can be filled?

6. Lakes - anthropogenic factors that impact the water quality

  • Depletion of the fish population
  • Groundwater pollution - fire and foam in lakes
  • The contaminants dynamics (antibiotics, pesticide and heavy metals) in such manmade lake
  • Water treatment of lakes and multiple usages (e.g. Irrigation)


Water Security Development-Leaving no one behind

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

  • Human – Climate – Water Interactions - Addressing water security challenges in the Anthropocene
  • Scientific challenges and opportunities to support achieving SDG 6, the water-related SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Leaving no one behind - On the critical role of water security for vulnerable groups
  • gender equality and social inclusion
  • Assessing Water Security supported by Earth observation remote sensing, Big Data, and citizens data?
  • Water-Migration nexus: Understanding the causes, impacts and response options of human migration – Focussing on the role of science (e.g., hydrological predictions, fragility, climate change effects, behavioural science, socio-economics, regional integration) and technology
  • Institutions, water markets and economic policies (e.g. fairness, access equity, water pricing and economic instruments).
  • Interconnection (at different scales) between Water Security and Sustainable production, consumption and well-being


Water –Energy Food Nexus

The thematic scope includes the following topics and subtopics

1. Nexus Indicators, thresholds and scenarios

  • Science and Data Need in achieving Water-Energy-Food Nexus Sustainability

2. Addressing water scarcity and extreme events following the water-energy-food nexus approach

  • Impacts of weather and climate extremes on the WEF security nexus" (eg drought impacts on hydropower/irrigation/urban supplies)
  • mitigating drought and flood impacts through a Nexus approach" (resilience and Nexus)

3. Nexus Governance

  • Nexus governance, public and industry policies, ownership and incentives for cross-sectoral best practices
  • Nexus governance at the household level
  • A Science and Data Need in achieving Water-Energy-Food Nexus Sustainability
  • Need for Integrated Public Policy in addressing Nexus
  • Participatory Nexus oriented approaches

4. Case Studies of Nexus Solutions and Implementations

5. Trade-off analyses around the water-energy-food nexus and implications for the environment