Water Security Network mentioned in Science journal as example of long-term initiative for joining interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners

In a recent article in Science’s Policy Forum, Karen Bakker, Director of the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia, reflects on the significant challenges and opportunities for water security research.

Bakker warns that the current disconnect between academic research on water security and the needs of policy-makers and practitioners is impeding progress on addressing the global water crisis.

Oxford’s Water Security Network is highlighted as a prime example of the types of long-term initiatives which are needed to bring together interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners, to complement the typical project-based funding.

Another challenge relates to the differences in scale that different disciplinary approaches take to water research. For example, hydrologists have their vision fixed on the river basin, while the interest of political scientists lies with the nation state. Bakker lends support to the use of a risk-based framework, as developed at Oxford’s Water Security, Risk and Society conference in April this year. “Risk analysis frameworks are promising … because they can incorporate multiple, nested spatial and temporal scales”, she points out. Furthermore, the common language of risk may prove useful for bridging disciplinary divides in water security research and analysing the complex trade-offs between multiple and competing objectives.