Water security involves protection of vulnerable water systems, protection against water related hazards such as floods and droughts, sustainable development of water resources and safeguarding access to water functions and services.
It is primarily concerned with human interventions in water systems. These are aimed at the enhancement of the beneficial and sustainable use of water for various purposes such as water supply, irrigation, drainage, navigation, hydropower, environmental purposes and the protection against water related risks such as floods and droughts.
Interventions in water systems are necessary to meet the needs of society in the widest sense and in order to be able to face the challenges of all kinds of global changes (e.g. climate change, land use change, etc.).
Research at UNESCO-IHE deals with surface and groundwater systems; river basins, coastal and estuarine water systems and ports and waterways and includes the following main aspects:
- analysis and understanding of hydrological, hydraulic, geo-technical and morphological processes and phenomena;
- planning and design of engineering interventions at regional/trans-boundary and local scales;
- management, operation and maintenance of water related infrastructure;
- environmental assessment and mitigation of impacts due to water use and interventions in water systems.
- Integrated coastal zone management and coastal zone
- Flood risk management & vulnerability indices
- Flood-resilient buildings
- Hydrological Processes and Modelling
Chair Groups involved:
- Flood Resilience
- Coastal Systems and Engineering and Port Development
- Hydrology and Water Resources
- Sustainable urban infrastructure
ICZM seeks to learn and understand the needs and methods for an integrated approach to planning and design of infrastructure in the coastal zone and estuaries.
This requires the development of integrated coastal and marine area management plans, port development and management, maritime transport and inland navigation and integrated modelling for environmental impact assessment, planning and analysis.
Flooding is inevitable as people seek the benefits of living near water, but it is possible to mitigate the adverse effects.
Projects in this area seek to enhance our ability to forecast floods, real-time flood prediction, risk and uncertainty techniques and the modelling of urban floods. In this context, flood vulnerability indices can be used at large scale and in areas where flood modelling is not possible.
The indices are calculated from data on land use, hydrological conditions, socio-economic indicators etc. They can be used by decision-makers to identify areas where further development may be ill-advised.
A key non-structural measure for reducing flood risk is to design buildings to withstand floods. With increasing climate variability this will be a key part of flood risk management.
Research is underway at UNESCO-IHE that seeks to improve the available technology. This seeks to develop and test new methods.
Understanding hydrological processes and develop suitable models is crucial for water resources management and to able to predict future impacts initiated through global changes.
Research is undertaken at different scales, i.e. rainfall-runoff generation, water-soil-plant-atmosphere interactions, water dating and surface water-groundwater interactions.
Therefore, the Institute further develops different experimental and modelling techniques using tracers, geophysics and remote sensing data.
It is now widely accepted that the constraints placed on rivers through excessive engineering in the past are not appropriate if we are to satisfy the many demands on rivers in a sustainable manner.
This has resulted in policies in several countries to move flood defences back from rivers and to allow more vegetation in the floodplains. This requires an understanding of how vegetation affects both the flow of water and the erosion and deposition of sediment.