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Water and Societal Challenges

Stable access to clean water and fresh seas is fundamental for all life on earth. An access we cannot take for granted. Interdisciplinary knowledge is a key.

Sustainable policy and management of our seas and our fresh water is one of the great, complex tasks of our time. Water resources are affected by a number of factors. Among these, are climate changes, with extreme rainfalls and corresponding drought, both of which cause problems at opposite ends of the scale on the freshwater side, and the warming and acidification of the oceans. 
Another factor is urbanisation, which leads to increased pressure on the cities' infrastructure. Then we have the growth of the world's population. According to the UN's calculations, we will reach the peak in 2080, with 10.4 billion people on earth. All of these will need access to clean water. In addition, expectations of a higher standard of living, growing industry and intensified agriculture mean that we will need more water. 

The aim of the EU's water directive is the sustainable use of water resources. Corresponding targets exist for the sea, through marine management plans and at EU level through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. To achieve these goals, we must adopt a socio-ecological perspective and analyze the health of ecosystems in a societal context: How do our economic, political, technological and cultural aspects affect ecosystems? And the opposite: What effect do these ecosystems have on human development and welfare? 
Such knowledge is important for developing holistic solutions to water- and society-related challenges in Norway - and in the rest of the world. 

NIVA can contribute to this 

The management of water and marine environment sets guidelines for well-functioning and sustainable societies, through rules and institutions that regulate how the water and marine environment is used, managed and protected. 
NIVA has experts in various fields, who work to understand the consequences of different management regimes and who look at how management, decision-making and knowledge production in the environmental field are connected. 

We have expertise in environmental economics and valuation of ecosystem services; environmental law, policy and management analysis; socio-ecological analyzes of ecosystem health; climate change mitigation and adaptation; participation, involvement and responsible research and innovation. 

Why does NIVA work with water and social challenges? 

Today's environmental and water challenges are complex and require interdisciplinary research and solutions. In addition to scientific and technological expertise, NIVA has researchers who work at the interface between environment and society. We know how humans, culture and nature influence each other, and which values, perspectives and knowledge are reflected in environmental policy, regulation and management. This is knowledge that is important for further policy development within the water and society area. 

Get in touch if you want to know more about what we offer on this topic. 

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