Context and Background
Over a billion worldwide lack regular access to safe drinking water. Increasing uncertainty linked with climate change exacerbates the challenge of water security—particularly for the world's poor. The International WaTERS Research and Training Network (Water-related Training, Education and Research in the global South) addresses ongoing water governance and security challenges, with focus on the global South. Our work includes three pilot project sites: Lima (Peru), Bangalore (India), and Cape Town (South Africa) and involves researchers and practitioners from around the world.
The International WaTERS is a unique partnership with a multi-faceted approach: promoting collaborative and comparative research on urban water resilience, with specific focus on rural-urban linkages and institutional, social and equity dimensions; fostering knowledge mobilization through academic and policy dialogue in our Network and beyond; and building an extensive network of expertise available to enrich capacity and graduate training at partner institutions.
Our research is focused on equity issues related to water quality and access, particularly resilience and water governance. We consider how inequity could harm the ability of our research sites to adapt to future water stress, and are interested in how this could be manifested in urban-rural linkages. For more detail on our research, please click here.
Drawing on the comparative insights gained, and the collective expertise of our partners, we work towards building capacity and responding to key water governance needs in each focal region. Project partners, including academic and NGO collaborators, participate in research design and implementation, and work with the Network for appropriate dissemination of results for policy-makers and other constituencies. We aim for at least one major Knowledge Mobilization effort in each region, planned for 2015–2016. More details on these knowledge mobilization efforts will be made available closer to the planned events.
International WaTERS offers a certificate to graduate students at all of our partner institutions (involving a newly developed MOOC on freshwater solutions at UBC, and a six-unit training module available to all graduate students and practitioners in the network). Ultimately, we hope that these training modules will also be made available beyond the Network as well. Second, we offer training opportunities in each region to build capacity in ways that extend ongoing activities of our partners. Third, we offer our students access to the considerable expertise of the Network through fellowships as well as collaborative research and publication opportunities. More information about the graduate fellowships (available to those associated with our existing Network partners) will be forthcoming in early 2015.
Our partners bring a wealth of experience with successful interdisciplinary research and graduate training projects; collaborative work with international and cross-sector partnerships; extensive training and capacity development for research on water issues; and networks of colleagues in academic, public and nonprofit institutions.
- The University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance (PoWG) is a center recognized for expertise in water governance research and policy outreach, with significant experience in Canada and internationally.
- The University of Minnesota’s Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) is a graduate training and research center with extensive experience promoting capacity development and research on sustainability and justice issues in the global South (including collaborative partnerships with Southern institutions) ICGC has worked in partnership with the Program on Water Governance (PWG) at the University of British Columbia to advance the work of our collaborative research circle on water access and governance in the global south. At UBC, our partnership activities are led by the PWG Co-Directors Leila Harris and Karen Bakker. Professor Harris, an ICGC alumna, is also a UBC faculty member in the Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability and the Institute for Gender, Race and Sexuality and Social Justice. Professor Bakker is a faculty member in the UBC Department of Geography and holds the Canada Research Chair in Political Ecology. The Program on Water Governance (PoWG) conducts cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on water sustainability, and fosters dialogue on water policy with communities and decision-makers. Our collaborative activities aim to foster interinstitutional research on water issues and to secure support for additional research, education, and outreach projects.
- The University of Western Cape’s Institute for Water Studies has the goal of goal of promoting research, postgraduate training, and outreach on water-related issues through the collaborative efforts of UWC staff. The Institute for Water Studies aims to increase the understanding of surface water, groundwater, and ecosystems linkages and how water users are affected and affect these linkages. IWS has a multi-disciplinary approach to its research since water issues cut across disciplines.
- WaterNET is dedicated to promoting the institutional and human capacity to educate and train water managers for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who are capable of contributing to the equitable sharing and sustainable utilization of water resources for poverty alleviation, economic development (livelihood security) and environmental security. The mission of WaterNet is to build the regional institutional and human capacity in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) through training, education, research and outreach by harnessing the complementary strengths of member institutions in the region and elsewhere.
- Justicia Hidrica is a collaborative network focused on promoting just water use and governance notably in Latin America. Two recent sub-networks related to this effort have more recently been established with focus in Southern and Eastern Africa (Water Justice Network) and in South Asia. These regional efforts are all integral to our Network.
- UNESCO-IHE, is the largest water education center in the world, and contributes to the education and training of professionals as well as linked capacity building for organizations operating in these sectors. UNESCO-IHE offers a UN accredited MSc program and various short courses, online training, and tailored training opportunities for practitioners and policy makers working in the water sector.
- The New Partnership for African Development – South African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (NEPAD SANWATCE) is a regional network whose activities focus on research and development (including infrastructure) through innovation; human capacity development; outreach through networking; conferences and workshops; strategic partnerships and financial sustainability.
- SaciWATERs, the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, is a policy research institute based in Hyderabad, India. It has focused on critical issues related to water resources management in south Asia. A key endeavour at SaciWATERs has been to enhance the dominant water resources management paradigm in the region with a consideration of all issues using a pro-poor human development approach. The emphasis is on the accumulation of new knowledge through a combination of research, capacity building, and advocacy. Accordingly, it partners with universities and academic institutions from across global north and south to fundamentally reshape water resources knowledge systems in south Asia.
- Wageningen University is home to a large number of chairgroups with academic programs that work on research, education and capacity-building in relation to Water Governance in the global South and North. In particular the chairgroup Water Resources Management (WRM) combines this research field, both theoretically/conceptually and in terms of societal impact, with the theme of Water Justice. For this, it coordinates for example the international research alliance Justicia Hídrica / Water Justice (www.justiciahidrica.org), related also to its Water Equity Network. The core of the workfield of the WRM chairgroup is interdisciplinary research and education aimed at describing and understanding patterns of water use from sociotechnical or socioecological perspectives, with the objective of promoting technologies, management practices and policies that contribute to a sustainable use, equitable distribution, and democratic governance of water. The group aspires to improve water and food security by supporting grassroots initiatives and strengthening multi-scalar networks, and thereby sets out to contribute to reducing water-based forms of vulnerability, poverty and social inequities.
- Forum of Water Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India is an effort to bring together all those interested in working on issues related to water conflicts in India into a loose network for action and interaction.
- Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization working in the area of Natural Resource Management (NRM) primarily in the rural areas. It is committed to the principles of sustainable and rational use of natural resources, equity and social justice in the distribution of benefits especially to the disadvantaged sections like dalits, landless, women, democratic and decentralised governance of these resources.
- Birzeit University, Institute for Environmental and Water Studies (IEWS) contributes to the capacity building of the human resources working in the Palestinian water and environmental sectors. The IEWS has direct links with the various faculties, institutes and centers of the university that support the institute in the implementation of its various activities.
International WaTERS’s members are also at institutions such as the University of California at Santa Cruz, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, McMaster University, King's College London, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Syracuse University, Bogazici University, and Dartmouth.