Workshop: Water Challenges and Solutions in India with a focus on Urban Water, 31 July – 1 August 2017

IIS, FICCI and Water Future logos


Water Solution Lab in India 

Currently, many water initiatives exist in India and address water challenges from multiple perspectives. Despite these various efforts, it is beyond any doubt that water related sustainable development requires further accelerated technological, social and institutional innovation. The increasing demand for the drastic reduction of environmental burdens and the footprints of human consumption, for example, water pollution and groundwater overdraft, implies that adaptation within existing technologies is not sufficient. Instead, radical and systematic innovations – ‘regime shifts’- are needed to meet such pressing challenges. Despite much progress in technologies over the past two decades, it is clear that the rate of technological development is not meeting the challenges of burgeoning human populations, demand for water, and increased rates of contamination.

Scientists are concerned with the understanding of water scarcity conditions, drivers and its impacts; businesses implement new strategies, technologies and products with many of these critically dependent on water; policy makers on all different levels attempt to mitigate and adapt to environmental impacts; and non-governmental organisations raise awareness and actively protect and support impacted humans and nature.

The limitation of the current approach involves an apparent disconnection between the knowledge-generators and knowledge-implementers, as the problems and solutions are often identified in silos. The innovation process and solutions developed by the solution identifiers often do not address the root causes of the problem that have been identified by problem identifiers. Fundamentally, this means that essential policies and practices to manage, conserve and/or rehabilitate the supporting ecosystems, are not being fully implemented.

We need a change in approach, and a framework is required that strongly connects both problem identifiers with solutions identifiers, knowledge generators and knowledge implementers, while focusing on integrated solutions.  Such a solutions-oriented, integrated approach can act as an antidote to the otherwise sluggish flow of evidence-based knowledge from the water sciences, to policy formulation and ultimately to application and implementation. It may help to develop ‘knowledge-to-concrete action’ and find solutions through the co-production of knowledge, involving scientists and other stakeholders.

The three major barriers hindering the implementation of an innovative solution are apparent:

  1. Lengthy diffusion time of innovation;
  2. Lack of knowledge exchange between theory and practice; and
  3. Lack of implementation research to monitor and understand the effects of innovative solutions.


To overcome these barriers, the central goal of the Water Solutions Lab – India (WSL-India) is to establish a new framework to facilitate the process of innovation in water-related issues.

The WSL-India will unite the critical water communities of “knowledge generators” from the water sciences and innovators and “knowledge implementers” from water policy, water industry, planning, management and practice. It will develop a use scientific knowledge in policy and management domains, integrating it with knowledge on the ground through broad dialogue between the communities, and co-produce robust solutions addressing the complex water problems at local levels in India.

The goal will be achieved by stimulating innovation through:

  • Identifying the root cause of problems at local levels using a systems approach, and understanding interactions between hydrology, biogeochemical processes, infrastructure, and human dimensions of water related problems.  As several problems are interconnected, identifying root-causes of the problems through systems-based approaches will help to reduce the costs of solving water related problems at local levels. It will allow systemic problems to be addressed.
  • Providing a solution knowledge platform that showcases different solutions available at global, regional, national and local levels and is relevant to the problems identified through systems analysis.
  • Identifying feasible solutions from the solution platform that address root causes of the problems using a multi-stakeholder and multi-criteria analysis framework.
  • Monitoring and assessing implementation of solutions using impact analysis.


  1. The WSL framework reduces the transaction cost that is normally incurred in the diffusion process of innovation, to boost the process of innovations for a sustainable water world.
  2. The WSL sets the stage for truly interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and effective collaboration among scientists and practitioners from various fields.
  3. WSL provides an integrated framework that allows for broader socio-economic outcomes to be assessed alongside supporting socio-ecological systems.
  4. The process of finding feasible solutions are co-designed and co-produced through an evolving science-policy-business dialogue, legitimate in nature and based on a transparent and peer-reviewed process using latest technologies.
  5. WSL addresses multi objectives simultaneously as the result of its multi-stakeholder and multi-criteria perspectives.
  6. WSL supports national governments and international bodies concerned about the implementation of the SDGs and their targets.

WSL-India is one of the key initiatives of the Sustainable Water Future Programme (Water Future) and its partners including Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Currently, the initiative is going through a co design process with different stakeholders ( academia, civil society, government agencies, industry) to identify strategic and design elements, case studies, other collaborating partners and formulate concrete steps that would lead to its establishment in India at the local level.

The workshop to be hosted  by Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science is part of  the co-design process of the Solution Lab, and it will explore how can  the problems and solutions be matched within an integrated framework in the context of the water scarcity situation in Bengaluru.


Further Information