Scientific Framework

The scientific objectives of the project are described in the following publication: The Global Water System Project: Science Framework and Implementation Activities. Framing Committee of the GWSP (2005). Earth System Science Partnership. Available online.

The implementation of GWSP research is organized into research activities that fall under the three core themes:

1. Magnitudes, mechanisms and triggers of anthropogenic and environmental change

2. Main links and feedbacks of these changes in and upon the global water system

3. Measure resilience and adaptation of the global water system and to derive sustainable governance studies and strategies towards inegrated water resources management

Within this context GWSP is focusing on three core integrative study areas:

1. Global Scale Initiative (GSI)

GSI is science driven but policy orientated. Its goal is to provide scientists and policymakers with high quality, quanititative, and timely information on the condition of the Global Water System, both now and into the future, reflecting sound biogeophysical and human dimension perspectives. The central science question is: What is the state of the Global Water System defined by physical, biological, chemical, and social perspectives as well as through their combination.

2. Global Catchment Initiative (GCI)

GCI encourages the use of large river catchments worldwide as "living laboratories" for better understanding the functioning of the Global Water System. Its goal is  to expand the viewpoint of river basin research and management to include the global perspective.

3. Global Water Needs Initiative (GWNI)

GWNI seek to find scientifc answers to the following key questions: How can we meet human needs for water and at the same time protect important assets and values that freshwater ecosystems provide. Humans demands are drastically changing globally, which has impacts on water resources. That is why it is important to quantify the amount and characteristics of that part of the river flow, that sustains ecosystem health.

The "WaterNeeds" project funded by DFG is an endorsed project of GWSP. Please visit the website for detailed information:

The three integrative study areas define three main thrusts and synergies of the GWSP. The scientific results are presented as reports and papers in science fora and media and also in policy dialogues with decision-makers in order to achieve knowledge-based solutions that safeguard and develop the Global Water System.