Water Knowledge and the Data Revolution

Data is essential for striving towards informed-based decision-making. Thanks to technological development, there are multiple sources of information that can be used to assess the past, present and future status of diverse regions. Therefore, this topic intends to develop pathways for data-driven decision-making for sustainability.

  • Novel Remote Sensing, Monitoring, Tracer and Model Techniques
  • Generation, Access and Utilization of Big Data for Water Development
  • Open Science and Open Innovation
  • Novel Water Curricular and Educational Networks
  • Capacity Development and Blended Learning for Water Security

Related sessions

Water and Disasters and the Role of Real-Time Geospatial Tools for Operational Planning and Decision-Making

Hosted by: Rishiraj Dutta (ADPC)

Through a unique partnership between NASA and USAID, SERVIR-Mekong is harnessing space technology and open data to help address development challenges related to a changing climate. SERVIR-Mekong works in partnership with leading regional organizations to help the five countries in the Lower Mekong Region namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam, use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies to manage climate risks. Over the years, several tools and services have been developed and deployed in the Lower Mekong Region prioritizing the specific country needs in terms of real-time monitoring of sectoral issues such as disasters, agriculture, water, and ecosystems and land use. 

While the session will provide an overview of the different tools and services deployed in the region, it will also give an account of a successful case example of the Vietnam Drought Portal that has been customized for drought monitoring and forecasting in the Ninh Thuan province of the South and Central Highlands. The tool was developed jointly by SERVIR-Mekong and the Vietnam Academy of Water Resources (VAWR) whereby the Regional Hydrologic Extreme Assessment System (RHEAS) was successfully customized and implemented to produce the drought outlook/forecast for Ninh Thuan province. The drought information generated by this service have helped assist farmers to make preemptive decisions about their water use, cropping and planting patterns, and market decisions. The service has also empowered end-users to help reduce crop loss, support agricultural livelihoods, and have enabled farmers to access appropriate advisories for their crops including scheduling and harvesting.

Novel Approaches to Assess and Cope with Droughts in Data Scarce Regions

Hosted by: Alexandra Nauditt, Lars Ribbe (TH Köln, CNRD), Christian Birkel (UCR, CNRD) and Rolando Celleri (UoC, CNRD)

Droughts are causing severe damages worldwide. Drought adaptation strategies, however, require a profound knowledge about the spatial and seasonal distribution of drought risk at local or river basin scale. Therefore, with this session, we intend to highlight innovative data sets and methodologies contributing to a better assessment and management of drought risk – especially in data scarce catchments.
 Droughts are slowly evolving and complex disasters, often poorly understood in the context of their regional climatic, hydrological and human environment. Therefore, we welcome research looking at hazard, vulnerability and exposure, the individual components of drought risk.

This session aims at presenting and discussing concepts, methods and data that can support drought assessment, management and forecasting.

Water-Climate-Nexus Challenges and Opportunities In Mountainous Regions

Hosted by: Björn Weeser and Suzanne Jacobs (ZEU)

Mountainous regions across the world play a vital role in the supply of freshwater to a large proportion of the world’s population. Compared to other ecosystems, mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change. This will strongly affect the often already poor and marginalized communities living there, as well as downstream populations, that rely on the mountains as a water source. Climate change effects, such as melting glaciers, changes in the volume and timing of water supply and an increased risk of landslides, could affect hydropower production and agricultural productivity, whilst increasing water scarcity conflicts through unequal water allocation.

In this session, we will explore climate change effects, adaptation, and mitigation options for mountainous regions and the communities living in and around them, with a specific focus on water. We invite contributions presenting challenges, but also opportunities resulting from climate-induced changes in water-related issues. This includes, but is not limited to, studies on the effect of climate change on water provisioning and livelihoods, the application of novel monitoring strategies (e.g. citizen science, wireless sensor networks, remote sensing) and modeling to support water management and the development of early warning systems for natural hazards, and recommendations for good governance of mountain ecosystems.

Solutions Towards a Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus

Hosted by: Lars Ribbe and Alexandra Nauditt (TH Köln, CNRD)

It is widely recognized that more “Nexus Thinking” is needed in resources management and that planning strategies should consider the needs of all sectors related to water, energy, food and the environment; and be based on a profound understanding of Nexus conflicts and trade-offs. However, Nexus systems can be extremely complex, depending on the spatial scale, seasonal variability, resources availability and demand as well as potential climatic, demographic and socioeconomic changes. Aside from understanding the economic trade-offs between the different resources uses, we need to be aware of the environmental implications of any intervention, and how it compromises other sectors. Typical examples are e.g. the impact of agricultural activities on water quantity and quality, reduced groundwater recharge due to increased technification and efficiency of irrigation, energy generation vs. water uses for domestic supply and agricultural activities, etc. ..). Therefore, only based on a WEF Security Nexus System assessment, we will be able to suggest adaptive solutions to improve sustainable resources planning.

In recent years, qualitative and quantitative tools of varying complexity have been developed and applied to assess such Nexus components and interconnections (Bassel et al., 2015; Basheer et al., 2018; Schull et al., 2020). Many of these tools address decision-making and governance at the national or regional level and are capable of depicting the regional physical and institutional context of WEF Nexus systems (Hermann et al., 2012; Sieber et al., 2015; Daher and Mohtar, 2015). Therefore, there is a strong demand to provide tools that can assess such Nexus tradeoffs at local scale systems as eg. the catchment scale, irrigation scheme or urban system.

Based on such a Nexus system assessment, we can suggest and develop integrated, low-cost WEF Nexus conform solutions (hybrid and polyservice technologies), that can optimize resources supply and protect ecosystems. Common examples are agro-photovoltaics, photovoltaics combined with water treatment, waste(water) for fertilization and energy generation.

Therefore, this session aims at presenting and discussing concepts, methods and data that can support WEF Security assessment and governance approaches, as well as smart and integrated solutions that can improve the secure supply of clean resources.

Operational Water Management Developments in Southeast Asia

Hosted by: Marcel Marchand and Dinh Phuong Trang (Deltares)

Hydrometeorological hazards such as floods and droughts are omnipresent in  Southeast Asian countries and are likely to increase with climate change. To cope with these hazards there is a growing need for real time water information enabling timely decisions in water management. Indeed, most countries are currently developing early warning systems as part of their disaster risk reduction management policies. These systems  require up to date and high-resolution data to feed hydrodynamic models, preferably in an automated workflow to generate reliable forecasts. Surface observation data, satellite and radar images combined with numerical weather prediction model results need to be processed, analyzed and archived in such a way that they can be used by rainfall run-off and hydraulic models that can generate predicted water flows and levels. There have been commendable achievements and investments in each of these components over the past decade. Nevertheless, there remains a genuine challenge to combine and integrated these into a reliable operational forecasting and warning system. Data transmissions are vulnerable, databases and models are often fragmented and require different formats, hampering interoperability. Hence, latest developments are (or should be) focusing on system integration from a holistic perspective, acknowledging that technical solutions can only be effective if sufficient attention is given to capacity building and institutional embedding.

Smart Water Technologies and Digital Solutions to Advance Water Security

Hosted by: Mahsa Motlagh (ICB)

Water is essential to realize all the SDGs, to meet the challenges of global changes, and for all aspects of human and environmental development. The wide range of water security challenges will require a similarly wide range of innovative solutions and tools, ranging from using the internet and mobile applications to remote sensing and big data, from desalination to cloud seeding, and from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. Technology brings a new chapter to data and decision-support systems to light and develop innovative forms of institutions, governance, and enabling infrastructure. However, technology alone cannot solve the water security challenges. Sustainable solutions require integrated and transdisciplinary approaches to create a roadmap as a shared vision to embrace the opportunities of the present and future digital solutions to reach the 17 SDGs by 2030 and beyond.

Today sustainability and digital technology have been connected along their path of development, and their innovative combination may provide such new capabilities in the water sector to understand the trend of disruptive changes from global to local. As a promising game-changer, the on-going development and integration of digital technologies are providing opportunities for water security while actuating the positive impact of a technology-enabled sustainable development won’t occur unguided in water management practices.

Experts in digitalization and sustainability from academia, private sector, politics, tech organizations, start-ups, national authorities are invited to join in our a session to present their research, experience, projects and case studies, to contribute to creating a shared vision considering the current landscape, gaps, risks and opportunities as well as actions that can accelerate the transformation towards sustainable digital water security.

Drought Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Hosted by: Yuei-An Liou (NCU)

Droughts are very common phenomena that occur worldwide and may cause the society tremendous amounts of economic loss and social damage with long-term consequences and difficulties to overcome. In the context of climate change, droughts are increasingly threatening not only economy, but also ecosystems and food security in the most vulnerable countries. Take Vietnam in 2019-2020 dry season as an example, drought and saline intrusion have greatly affected the life, activities, and agricultural yields of the Mekong Delta, where is Vietnam’s largest rice bowl. It is important to assess the changes in spatiotemporal trends of droughts in the regional scale. This information will help us understand the impacts of climate change and drought. Implementation of drought assessment will support policymakers and water resources managers in developing coping strategies and drought management plans.This session seeks for research studies on advancements in development, application, technology, and model to further heighten exploration of droughts, climate change and their impacts on socio-economics. In addition, this session solicits solutions in short-and long-term visions of technologies, policies and institutions to prevent and reduce the damages caused by drought.