NeWater scientific challenge


Joerg Krywkow

Anne van der Veen


University of Twente

Complete list of partners


Jan 2005 – Dec 2008


The complexity of current water resource management poses many challenges. Water managers need to solve a range of interrelated water dilemmas, such as balancing water quantity and quality, flooding, drought, maintaining biodiversity and ecological functions and services, in a context where human beliefs, actions and values play a central role. Furthermore, the growing uncertainties of global climate change and the long term implications of management actions make the problems even more difficult. NeWater addresses some of the present and future challenges of water management. The project recognizes the value of highly integrated solutions and advocates integrated water resource management (IWRM) concepts. However, NeWater is based on the hypothesis that IWRM cannot be realized unless current water management regimes undergo a transition towards more adaptive water management.


The NeWater project has the following specific objectives:

  • To develop a conceptual framework for research and adaptive management of river basins that integrates natural science, engineering and social science concepts and methodologies.
  • To apply the NeWater knowledge and tools in transboundary river basins, with special emphasis on EU Water Framework Directive and Water Initiative implementation areas.
  • To develop protocols and tools for stakeholder engagement and analysis in participatory research and management of IWRM.
  • To analyse the role of key factors including governance, participation and spatial planning for the transition to adaptive management of river basins.
  • To develop approaches that integrate poverty alleviation, gender awareness and health planning in the adaptive management of river basins.
  • To develop a range of tools to assess and manage the transition to adaptive management tailored to the institutional, cultural, environmental, technological settings of river basins.
  • To compile a baseline of present vulnerability and adaptive capacity of river basins that integrates exposure to present socio-institutional, economic and environmental stresses and shocks
  • To assess current practice in IWRM and draw lessons for the transfer of new scientific methodologies for IWRM practitioners.
  • To analyse and classify major sources of uncertainty in IWRM and their implications for management.
  • To develop a sound scientific foundation for managing uncertainties, interactions across scales, integration across sectors and exposure to future stresses for climate resources, conflicts between water quantity, water quality and ecosystem services.
  • To develop a range of tools to assess vulnerability and adaptive capacity that supports transitions to effective adaptive management of river basins
  • To explore the influence of system structure and external shocks, stresses, and trends on adaptive capacity, resilience, and vulnerability
  • To analyse scenarios of future vulnerability and adaptive capacity of river basins in order to provide end points of transitions to adaptive management strategi
  • To deliver a comprehensive methodology and protocol for its use that demonstrates best practice in using innovative tools for adaptive management drawn from the NeWater case studies
  • To develop an innovative toolkit and guidance for practitioners in applying methods for the adaptive water management of river basins.
  • To share experience and innovations in dialogues, publications and action, to further the European Research Area and to support the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and EU Water Initiative.
  • To initiate an world-wide research to application platform for effective scientific and cross-policy cooperation in dealing with the high complexity and limited predictability of integrated water resources management on a river basin scale that contributes to constructive dialogues with the Global Water Partnership (GWP), World Water Council (WWC), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other efforts.