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Mitigation of Water Stress through new Approaches to Integrating Management, Technical, Economic and Institutional Instruments

Final Report Summary - AQUASTRESS (Mitigation of water stress through new approaches to integrating management, technical, economic and institutional instruments)

Water stress is a global problem with various economical and social implications. Current estimates indicate that a third of the world's population lives in water stressed countries and this proportion is expected to rise to two thirds by 2025. In addition, climate change is affecting all regions of the world and extreme events instigate water scarcity even in traditionally water rich areas.

Therefore, the necessity to develop an innovative, integrated water management approach towards new tools and decision support practices is prevailing. The AQUASTRESS project aimed to contribute in this direction through the exploration of novel interfaces between technologies and social approaches, disciplines and sectors, the proposal of an innovative water stress mitigation conceptual framework and the identification of guidelines to implement such integrated options. More specifically, the project aimed to:
1. characterise water stress;
2. assess mitigation measures;
3. conceptualise innovative options and design tools to support and evaluate them;
4. develop and disseminate guidelines, protocols and policies and create a participatory approach for their implementation.

Hence, this ambitious project presented a major management challenge that, through a scientific strategy, produced a high level of interaction among advanced research teams, local water managers, stakeholders and citizens within the framework of the European Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Firstly, the theoretical results of previously undertaken activities were identified and exploited. Specific case studies were analysed and local indicators and needs for feedback were selected so that the technical Work blocks (WBs) could result in useful practical guidance documents and tools. A Joint work team (JWT) was established for each case study site, providing, through an interdisciplinary approach, all the required information to groups of participants working in the field. In addition, public participation emerged as a necessary aspect for the planning of any management plan, programme of measures or project. The formulation and operation of stakeholder bodies enhanced information exchange between the public, decision makers and water experts and enabled mutual understanding and early identification of the emerging problems.

Furthermore, AQUASTRESS resulted in various documents which, along with the developed tools, were anticipated to be of significant importance to the scientific community. As such, an appropriate dissemination strategy was implemented to maximise the project impact to scientists, stakeholders and the general public.