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GCRF: Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub

GCRF: Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub

The Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub is a five-year project improving water security for a resilient future.

Project leader

Prof Richard Dawson


February 2019 to January 2024

Project staff

Dr Claire Walsh

Dr Geoff Parkin,

Dr Jaime Amezaga

Prof Tom Curtis

Prof David Graham

Dr David Werner

Prof Jon Mills

Dr Cat Button

Prof Pauline Dixon

Dr Graham Morgan

Maggie Roe

Dr Michaela Goodson

Victoria Anker

Caroline Grundy

Dr Greg O’Donnell

David Walker




Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Universidad del Cauca, Colombia

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

School of Architecture and Planning, India

Water and Land resource Center, Ethiopia

International Water Management Institute

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

University of Leeds

University of Oxford

A reliable and acceptable quantity and quality of water, and managing water-related risks for all, is considered by the United Nations to be:

the critical determinant of success in achieving most other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Water is essential for human life. It is also necessary for food and energy security, health and well-being, and prosperous economies. Yet some 80% of the world's population live in areas with threats to water security. The impacts cost $500bn a year.

Progress in meeting SDG6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), has been slow. In May 2018, the United Nations reported that “the world is not on track to achieve SDG6”. Improvements that increase access to water or sanitation are undone by pollution, extreme weather, urbanisation, over-abstraction of groundwater, land degradation etc.

Significant barriers:

  • insufficient data to understand social, cultural, environmental, hydrological processes
  • existing service delivery / business models that are not fit for purpose
  • costs are too high, and poor understanding of local priorities leads to inappropriate investments
  • fragmented water governance
  • communities are engagee with, and take responsibility for, water security
  • pathways to water security
  • often not adaptable and appropriate to local context and values

These barriers are inherently systemic, and will need a significant international and interdisciplinary endeavour. The GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub brings together leading researchers from Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Malaysia and the UK. Each international partner will host a Water Collaboratory (collaboration laboratory) which will provide a participatory process, open to all stakeholders, to jointly question, discuss, and construct new ideas to resolve water security issues. 

Through developing and demonstrating a systems and capacity building approach to better understand water systems; value all aspects of water; and strengthen water governance we will unlock systemic barriers to achieving water security in practice.

  • Colombia: Aquacol, Executive Sanitation Unit, Commission for Recovery of the River Cauca Basin, Regional Council for Environmental Policy and Water Resources, Empresas Munipales de Cali, Abay River Basin
  • Ethiopia: Awash Basin Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Rift Valley Lakes Basin Authority, World Bank Ethiopia Office, Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence
  • India: Delhi Development Authority, The Flow Partnership, Delhi Jal Board, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology, UN Habitat India, Green Shakti Foundation, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, National Capital Region Planning Board, Central Water Commission
  • Malaysia: EcoKnights, Green Earth Society, Indah Water Konsrtium, Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Ministry of Health, SAJ Ranhill, National Water Services Commission, Johor Water Regulatory Body
  • Other/Global: Arup, Binary Asylum, Envirowatch, Global Flood Partnership, International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, International Water Association, Matrix, Oxfam, TickTock Games Ltd, UN Habitat, Waterlat, Wolf and Wood, World Health Organisation, World Wildlife Fund