The dynamic society-nature interface and interactions at and across different scales in terms of governing the transition towards a sustainable water future. In this context, the segment further develops the global water governance expertise of GWSP, addressing institutional landscapes, actor networks, multi-dimensional valuation of water and its services. The importance of governance reform, adaptive management, learning and negotiation processes will be reflected through a strong emphasis on policy relevant action research towards solution-oriented approaches. Thus far, as countries have undergone economic development, rivers and wetlands have been subject to an attitude of ‘impair’, then ‘repair’, suggesting an the environmental Kuznet’s Curve. Water solutions should be designed to enable sustainable economic development and for developing countries to leap-frog processes that damage water environments.
Developing robust knowledge is necessary yet not sufficient to govern the transition towards a sustainable water future. Good governance and leadership have yet to set the stage for developing and implementing sustainable management practices, with the new challenge at the fully global scale. Enhancing water security for both humans and nature needs to be translated into operational targets that can be monitored and can guide adaptive strategies. The world looks at threshold economies. To what extent will their development follow the environmental Kuznets Curve, with rising environmental degradation until a certain income level is crossed? Or will they become the pioneers in the sustainable development agenda?
Through Water Future the scientific community adopts an active role in shaping this course. It aims at creating a strategic partnership of scientists, public stakeholders, decision makers and the private sector to implement a reality-based, multi-perspective and multi-scale knowledge-to-action water agenda. Greater emphasis will be required to assess how sustainability research on water can contribute to pro-poor policies.
Given its emphasis on solutions, Water Future will aim to develop a ‘Water Solutions Labs’ providing leadership in identifying research areas and promoting the transition from identification of major research questions and policy issues towards the incubation of ideas and the development of solutions ready for adoption by stakeholders, including governments, businesses and non-governmental sectors.
Water Future will develop as a bridging organization in a polycentric structure, linking the key players in the water field, such as the United Nations organisations (UNESCO, UNEP, WMO, FAO), Future Earth, Group of Earth Observation, CGIAR, Global Water Partnership, World Water Council, National research bodies etc.). It will combine a high level of legitimacy in knowledge generation with ensuring representativeness. Water Future will also develop joint activities with other water related projects of Future Earth, including Future Earth Coasts (formerly known as LOICZ), CCAFS, GEWEX, GLP, and ESG with the aim to promote joint research activities.