Research Themes

The Institute for Water Futures acknowledges that water is not simply a stand-alone research area, but one which crosses into sociological, hydrological, and ecological study and beyond. For this reason, our research themes are not organised by discipline, but rather into three primary outcomes, where work may fluidly operate across categories.

Connecting each outcome are the cornerstones of our research approach: co-production of knowledge, decision support and learning-by-doing.

Understanding uncertain futures

Scientific data, analysis and modelling are powerful tools that help us navigate uncertain futures. We develop advanced information products, cutting edge analysis and integrated models to characterise scientifically plausible futures. Social processes, norms, and conventions also strongly shape how society interprets and applies these tools.

We work with communities and stakeholders to envision socially feasible futures through in-depth understanding of governance, institutions and social norms and values. We combine scientific and social insights to create multi-dimensional understandings of how different actors and organisations navigate uncertainty and plan for the future.

Creating new options

Innovation is key to creating new options that can bring about greater resilience and transformative shifts in how we share and benefit from water.

We link emerging technologies such as remote and in situ sensor networks, earth observations, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to real-world decision-making. But innovation is not limited to technology. We create new tools and methodologies for communities and professionals to think differently and more creatively about the future, generating new options for policy and practice.

Enabling action

Making decisions now that prepare us for an uncertain future is the fundamental challenge confronting water users, traditional owners, practitioners, policy-makers, and other custodians of water resources.

We work with our partners at all levels to co-develop and co-produce deliberate strategies to adapt, transition, and transform in anticipation of changing demands, climatic shifts, and technological opportunities. We foster solutions for forward-looking, cooperative and anticipatory water governance.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.