Juliana Marcal is a WISE CDT Cohort 5 student, working with Professor Jan Hofman and Dr Junjie Shen. Her research topic is 'Improving urban water security by sectorisation of the urban area and decentralization of water infrastructure'. She recently attended the workshop, titled "Assessment and Quantification Methodologies for Water Security" and organised by the Water Europe working group “Water Security”, in the Netherlands.
This January I had the opportunity to attend the workshop organised by the Water Europe Working group “Water Security” at the KWR Water Research Institute in the Netherlands.
Water security is about managing too much, too little or too polluted water and its assessment is of increasing importance in the current global scenario, where water scarcity, hazards and pollution are core challenges faced by our society. How to define and assess water security would allow us to identify pathways towards a more proactive approach to water management in order to achieve water security.
In this workshop, keynote speakers from leading European water institutions gave their perspectives on water security. Different backgrounds and experiences brought to the discussion a variety of perspectives that highlighted the multidisciplinarity and complexity of the concept: water security involves, among other factors, governance and water management, economic and social factors, water hazards and protection of ecosystems; it can be considered at different levels, from household to global and it should also consider the stakeholders and end-users. Since water is essential to all human activities, the list of factors can go on, and considering all the important aspects and how they are linked is crucial to understand how to take this concept out of the paper and into actions, guiding water management strategies that can ensure water security for all.
People from governmental and non-governmental institutions, academia and private sector were put into groups in the afternoon session to discuss the big question: how to assess such a complex concept? Different viewpoints sparked a very interesting conversation on key aspects and indicators that could be employed in the quantification of water security accounting for water quantity and quality, ecosystems, water related risks, and governance and stakeholder’s involvement.
It was a day of learning and engaging discussions. I enjoyed the talks and the exchanges that I had with the participants. It was a very enriching experience for me as a PhD student starting to work on the subject. With a topic on strategies to improve urban water security, this day was filled with information and new perspectives that have broadened my view on the subject and will surely be extremely valuable for me in the development of my project.