Looking Ahead

A programmatic vision for G-WADI to maintain and increase further its impact and value was developed in G-WADI: The Way Forward. The following text is adapted from from that publication.

It is clear that the regional networks play a crucial role in the success of G-WADI. Through their network and connections to local policy, they are best placed to identify specific bottlenecks for a sustainable development of arid and semi-arid regions. As such, they should set the agenda and ensure that the scientific process is optimally demand-driven, and is turned into tools and products that address those local demands, such as maps, datasets, simulation tools and predictions.

The regional centres are also ideally placed to identify training opportunities that address specific needs in relevant policy fields. It is within this context that a global G-WADI coordination should operate, by identifying common interests and priorities among regional centres and subsequently generating the critical mass needed to tackle the identified challenges. This will require the mobilization of relevant actors within the global scientific community, for example via special journal issues, conference sessions, and joint projects.

The new scientific trends that were identified in G-WADI: The Way Forward can be highly instrumental in achieving this goal. The interest in the hydrology-society interaction of IAHS’ Panta Rhei decade has put the science-policy interface high on the agenda of scientists and researchers, not only as a study object in itself, but also as a pathway to increasing the societal relevance and impact of research projects. This is a timely opportunity for G-WADI to catalyse this trend for the benefit of arid and semi-arid regions, by promoting the opportunities these regions present for both high-level and high-impact research.

The increasing interest in participatory approaches, grassroots initiatives and citizen science can also be used to highlight further the need for locally-relevant knowledge, and locally-tailored solutions for policy support. With the increasing availability and adoption of ICT and mobile technologies, many of these solutions are expected to come in the form of digital services and tools. Existing G-WADI tools such as iRain, RainSphere, and the African and Latin American Flood and Drought monitors are prime examples of tools that leverage new technologies, originally in the form of web-technologies, and more recently with the addition of a mobile phone app. Extending further these tools, for instance by adding a wide range of climate services, is a promising way forward to leverage these emerging technologies. In developing and implementing these tools and approaches, G-WADI will continue to mainstream UNESCO’s Priority on Gender Equality, ensuring that the needs of both women and men are equally represented and considered its programmes and activities.

Such an endeavour is impossible without the mobilization of financial and other resources. As G-WADI itself has limited resources of its own, the best strategy will be to leverage those resource by tapping into external funding. This will require further global coordination to identify funding opportunities within the scope of G-WADI’s priorities, and to assemble the optimal consortium of scientists and end-users to formulate successful bids.