Society and nature both can suffer from water security issues. We define water security based on four pillars: availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability. The fourth pillar, stability, is an umbrella that overarches the other three. Integration of alpha, beta, and gamma knowledge within and across pillars is still lacking. Existing initiatives focus mainly on either natural or social parts aspects of water security. Our SPARK activities, including a survey on water research, revealed a clear need for interdisciplinary integration to secure water from raindrop to tap. Such approaches are badly needed to help realize Sustainable Development Goals and European Green Deal policies.
Our main objective is to develop and verify an open-access and integrative framework with indicators to evaluate and improve water security. We will focus on four pillars and two research questions:
Question 1 centers on developing indicators that consider natural and societal requirements for water availability (pillar 1), accessibility (pillar 2), and utilization (pillar 3). We will apply a four-step approach: 1) identify indicators' focus, 2) define the indicators' requirements, 3) formalize methodology and protocols for indicators, and 4) document indicators' application guidelines. The three working groups, each coordinated by two team members, will oversee this work.
Question 2 centers on developing and verifying an integrative framework for water security. A fourth working group will be tasked with interconnecting indicators in pillar 4. The framework will be evaluated in a workshop with different stakeholders such as the Global Water Partnership, UN World Water Quality Alliance, and Dutch water authorities.
The unusual project’s structure that combines natural and societal aspects by pillar will promote out-of-the-box thinking and will lead to a common language. To stimulate this process we aim to also include non-academics. We will write a joint paper and explore funding options for framework implementation.