GRoWnet: Innovative Solutions for Global Water Issues

Tribal farming rice in rice terraces on mountain of twilight

Sustainable Development Goal number six reads, “Clean Water and Sanitation”. Achieving this means guaranteeing that everyone in the world has access to drinking water and sanitary facilities, while simultaneously protecting this vital resource. Climate change, population growth and associated conflicts related to the use and over-exploitation of water represent obstacles to this goal. Research can make a critical contribution to tackling the global water crisis.

GRoW: Water as a Global Resource

adelphi leads the networking and transfer project GRoWnet. Its aim is to strengthen the positive impact of the initiative “Water as a Global Resource” (GRoW), a research programme funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). GRoW brings together more than 90 institutions from research, industry and practice. The goal is to develop innovative solutions for local-to-global water problems. 

Learn more about the initiative from some researchers themselves:

Linking the local and the global by connecting research, policy and practice

The guiding principle of this programme is to connect global analyses with local solutions: the 12 GRoW joint projects improved global information and forecasts for water resources and demand, while exploiting new knowledge to develop solutions for local water problems with stakeholders. The transfer project “GroWnet”, led by adelphi, identifies and takes advantage of synergies between these 12 joint projects and helps them transfer their research results and solutions into policy and practice. 

Water is a valuable production factor

Tools developed by researchers in the GRoW WELLE project enable companies to better determine their water footprint. The project found that, in many companies, over 95 percent of the total water consumption in the manufacture of products comes from the supply of energy and materials. If the value of water as a production factor is made visible at all points in the supply chain, companies can take measures to reduce water scarcity at local hot spots in their value chains.

Efficient water management in agriculture

The world’s largest consumer of globally available water resources is agriculture. “We are developing tools to monitor and determine the efficiency of agricultural water use worldwide. This way, we can identify global hotspots in water management in agriculture that have an impact on food production, ecosystems and energy generation,” says Wolfram Mauser, coordinator of the GRoW project VIWA, Chair of Geography and Geographical Remote Sensing, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Clean energy without water stress

Water is also an important factor in the energy transition: considerable amounts of water are required to extract raw minerals – often in regions that are already suffering from water stress. Case studies and global modelling in the GRoW project WANDEL show that strategies for the energy transition not only have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also have to take water requirements into account. This way, clean energy does not come at the expense of scarce water resources in arid regions of the world.

These are just selected examples of the GRoW initiative research results. Many more can be found in publications from the GRoW initiative and on the GRoW website.

Publications of this project