Water security: Research challenges and opportunities

In a recent article published by Karen Bakker in Science entitled,"Water Security: Research Challenges and Opportunities", she argues for enhanced integration between academic research and policy making for water sustainability.

Bakker goes on to make note of several promising efforts to improve the linkage between knowledge and action, "In addition, project-based funding should be complemented by the creation of long-term networks [e.g., Oxford University’s Water Security Network] and research units that bring together interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners on a longer-term basis (32), e.g., NSF’s Decision Center for a Desert City, which bridges science and policy to create analytical tools used in water decision-making."

The article illustrates the increasing impact of our work at Decision Center for a Desert City. Read the entire article at Science.

Karen Bakker is Director of the Program on Water Governance in the Department of Geography and Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.


An estimated 80% of the world's population faces a high-level water security or water-related biodiversity risk (1). The issue of water security—defined as an acceptable level of water-related risks to humans and ecosystems, coupled with the availability of water of sufficient quantity and quality to support livelihoods, national security, human health, and ecosystem services (2, 3)—is thus receiving considerable attention. To date, however, the majority of academic research on water security is relatively poorly integrated with the needs of policy-makers and practitioners; hence, substantial changes to funding, education, research frameworks, and academic incentive structures are required if researchers are to be enabled to make more substantive contributions to addressing the global water crisis.