SDG Assessment Core Group


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring the inclusion and protection of societies most vulnerable groups. The SDGs are organized in 169 targets whose rate of achievement should be monitored by indicators developed by the “Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators”. The monitoring of target achievement represents a large challenge for the national statistical offices, due to lack of data, insufficient definitions, and unforeseen trade-offs between sectors. Additionally, the ‘Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus’ approach is becoming increasingly popular among practitioners and scholars for addressing global challenges related to sustainable development. However, very few studies on the Nexus are based on comprehensive quantitative assessment of resources integrating human and environmental dimensions with a socio-ecosystem based approach. This is, however, necessary since there is a genera agreement that sector oriented interventions may trigger Nexus trade-offs. For example, achieving food security can have direct impacts on water resources and energy needs. The group aims to explore how global hydrology, vegetation, land surface , land use, and agent-based models can help monitor progress towards targets defined by the SDGs and project progress by simulating the proposed indicators over the next 15 years. We will build a transdisciplinary collaborative environment following the path from modelling of biophysical variables to monitoring of societal goals, to policy impact.

To achieve these objectives, our group will explore the synergies and trade-offs between multiple dimensions of space and time, and between water, energy, and agricultural sectors.. This multi-scale approach will be adopted to propose preferable solutions to approach global challenges for achieving sustainability, while trying to integrate a nexus approach from river basin up to country and global scales. Additionally, we will characterize how uncertainty is perceived by stakeholders and policy makers, how trust in models influences implementation and how researchers can best communicate and disseminate their methodologies, results, and broader impacts to policy relevant stakeholders.


  • 1 st – 2 nd Month: Revise the preselection of targets and indicators that we are going to focus on and compile a definitive list with the focus targets (FT) according to the group competences.
  • 3 rd – 6 th Month: Organization of the first workshop, search for funding, location, remote collaboration system.
  • 7th – 8th Month: First workshop with three activities:
    • Matching information needs for assessment, with models and indicators,
    • Assessing the factors that affect science-policy communication with focus on perception of uncertainty, and
    • Identify a writing team for the positioning paper.
  • 9 th – 10 th Month: Identifying scientific, structural and technical bottlenecks for the modelling of target indicators and quantifying synergies and trade-offs in the WEF approach.
  • 11 th – 12 th Month: Second workshop:
    1) Sharing developments concerning modelling avenues to support the provision of quantitative assessment indicators,
    2) Summarize best practices in communication of model results, and
    3) Present advances in the paper introduction and methodology.
  • After 12 th Month: finish writing of positioning paper (possibly in an additional writing retreat), formulation of research project proposal and identification of appropriate funding opportunities.


  • Co-Chair: Carlo Giupponi – Associate Professor at the Department of Economics and Director of the Interdepartmental Centre VICCS (Venice Centre for Climate Studies) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy)
  • Co-Chair: Marianela Fader – Deputy Director of the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (UNESCO)
  • Stefano Balbi – Research fellow for the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, in Spain.
  • David Benson – Senior Lecturer, Environment and Sustainability Institute, The University of Exeter, UK.
  • Luna Bharati – Principal Researcher Hydrology and Water Resources, International Water Management Institute, Bonn, Germany.
  • Anne Biewald – Postdoctoral Researcher, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.
  • Livia Bizikova – Director of Knowledge for Integrated Decisions, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Canada.
  • Eleanor Blythe – Senior Scientist and Team Leader at CEH Wallingford, in the UK.
  • Gisela Böhm – Professor in the Department of Psychosocial Sciences at the University of Bergen, Norway.
  • David Budescu – Professor of Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology at Fordham University, USA.
  • Pietro Ceccato – Research Scientist within the Lead Environmental Monitoring Program at the The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA
  • Philipp De Vrese – Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Planck Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg, Germany
  • Siegfried Demuth – Director, International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change(UNESCO) in Germa
  • Martina Flörke – Senior Scientist and Research Group Leader for the Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel, Germany.
  • Animesh Kumar Gain – Research Fellow for the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) located in Potsdam, Germany.
  • Dieter Gerten – Senior Scientist and Team Leader for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, located in Germany.
  • Simon Gosling – Director of Research and an Associate Professor within the School of Geography at The University of Nottingham, UK.
  • Stefan Hagemann – Senior Scientist at the Max Planck Institut für Meteorologie in Hamburg, Germany.
  • Naota Hanasaki – Senior Researcher for the National Institute for Environmental Studies located in Japan.
  • Antony Jakeman – Professor within the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, Australia.
  • Matti Kummu – Assistant Professor for Water and Development at Aalto University in Finland.
  • Hermann Lotze-Campen – Chair of PIK research domain II at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
  • Dilek Onkal – Professor of Decision Sciences at Bilkent University in Turkey.
  • Debra Perrone – Research Fellow at Stanford University, USA.
  • Lars Ribbe – Director of the Institute for Technology and Resource Management in the Tropics and Subtropics, Köln, Germany
  • Justin Sheffield – Professor of Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton, UK
  • Alex Smajgl – Managing Director of the Mekong Region Futures Institute, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Tobias Stacke – Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg Germany.
  • Karl Halvor Teigen – Emeritus Professor in General Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway and an Adjunct Research Scientist at Simula Research Laboratory.
  • Yoshihide Wada – Deputy Director of the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.
  • Dirk Weichgrebe – Head for the Division of Solid Waste Management in Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany.
  • Maciej Zalewski – Director for the European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology in Poland.


The group members cover a broad spectrum of competences (from hydrologic modelling, to climate sciences, economics, governance, decision science, psychology) and have in common an active involvement in sustainability science, transdisciplinary contributions to novel approaches and high-level publications in the field. The past and ongoing activities of the members include vegetation and hydrology modelling, perception of uncertainty, integrated assessment, and participatory institutional analysis of the W-E-F Nexus at different scales ranging from local to global. The team is composed of distinguished senior researchers, but also young researchers who are active in publication. Although many members of our group have collaborated on previous work, our group has been established ad-hoc for the specific purposes of this Core Group for the Sustainable Water Future Programme. The trans-disciplinary character of the group is well grounded in disciplinary competences that were selected with the specific aim of supporting the transformation to water sustainability at the interface between science and policy making.

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