One of Europe's largest centers for water research to be established in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt

Published on October 11, 2013 at 2:53 AM · No Comments

One of Europe's largest centers for water research is being established in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt with a workforce that includes over 500 researchers: The 'Center for Advanced Water Research (CAWR)'. The cooperation agreement will be signed by representatives of the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden, TUD) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) on 8 October 2013. Both partners see the benefits that will arise from the new Center in the channelling of existing resources, which will allow to address the global problems concerning integrated water resources management jointly. With the foundation of the CAWR, the partners' strategic cooperation will take on a new quality. The TUD and the UFZ have already been working closely together since 2006, most recently (since 2009) within the 'International Water Research Alliance Saxony' (IWAS).

Even though access to clean water has been recognized by the United Nations as constituting a basic human right since 2010, around three-quarters of a billion people throughout the globe are still suffering from acute water shortage. As the population continues to increase, these problems will become even more challenging in many regions of the world. According to current estimates, over two billion people will be living in regions with acute water shortage in 2050. Benefiting from over 100 years of research in Germany, appropriate approaches will contribute to the task of overcoming the challenges in the water sector. "The Center for Advanced Water Research has been founded to allow us to tackle these issues with the help of integrated approaches. Complex problems cannot be addressed using single solutions. Hand in hand with the most important partners in the field of water research and sustainable development we will make our scientific competences available to strategically develop training and successfully transfer our knowledge to practice, policy-making and society both at the national and international level.," explains Professor Hans M-ller-Steinhagen, Rector of the Dresden University of Technology. Water is a core research focus both at the TUD and the UFZ. "For a long time now we have benefitted from successful cooperation within national and international projects, through training as well as from setting up the Water Science Alliance together - the alliance of the German water research community. With the Center for Advanced Water Research, the region Dresden-Leipzig-Magdeburg-Halle is emerging as an international pivotal point for water research," points out Professor Georg Teutsch, Scientific Director of the UFZ.

A comprehensive range of activities

At the Dresden University of Technology, with about 250 scientific employees including the incumbents of 25 professorial chairs in this field, water research is one of the key issues that the University has defined within the framework of the excellence initiative, building on its unique concentration of hydro-scientific competence.

In 2012, the well-established tradition of work related to the hydrosciences received new impetus through the establishment of the FLORES Institute of the United Nations University with its thematic focus on the "water, soil and waste"-nexus. Over many years the Dresden University of Technology gives students the opportunity to study in these areas, and on behalf of UNEP and UNESCO it has also provided in-depth, water-related, management-level training for people from developing and newly industrializing countries through the CIPSEM Postgraduate Centre.

Water research is also a priority at the UFZ, which has around 280 scientific employees and 23 joint professorships in the water field alone. Since 2010, the UFZ has played an important role in the development and setup of the 'Water Science Alliance', a platform with the aim to strengthen the existing competences in water research in Germany as well as internationally. , Furthermore the UFZ is the coordinator of the Helmholtz Water Network bringing together national labs in the water field with their key university partners. Also, the TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) and TERENO-MED (Mediterranean region) observation platforms maintained by the Helmholtz Association represent major research infrastructures contributing to the partnership.

Numerous joint projects

An interdisciplinary study conducted in the context of the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) with the aim of improving water quality in the Western Bug (the area where the Ukraine, Belarus and Poland have common borders) is one of the many examples of the fruitful cooperation between the TUD and the UFZ. The specific work performed within the framework of the IWAS model region of Eastern Europe included natural scientific research, social scientific research and the development of capacities and infrastructures for operators. The main thrust of the work was directed towards the investigation of the origin, transport and degradation of nutrients and pollutants, which was achieved with the aid of innovative approaches and by combining simulation models. In order to ensure that the results of the research are also put into practice, the political and socio-economic conditions of the Western Ukraine were also analysed and identified, for this is where the most important institutional and economic barriers to the implementation of the proposals are to be found at present.

Integrated Water Resources Management

The 'Center for Advanced Water Research' covers a wide range of topics: Research is conducted on scientific issues involving water quality, on the integrated management of water resources in dry areas and urban areas as well as on the social-scientific aspects of water policy, societal change and environmental change. In addition to research work, the Center will also be focussing on the implementation of knowledge and research findings. The 'Center for Advanced Water Research' unites the working groups previously established by the two partners. It is supervised through the offices of a coordination bureau and receives support from an international Advisory Board. Tilo Arnhold, Susanne Hufe

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