Management of water resources, droughts and water scarcity in the UK is undergoing significant changes. Our vision is that management of droughts and water scarcity will in future be more explicitly risk based, incorporating authoritative analysis of the full range of drought impacts for people and the environment, and a systemic understanding of their interactions and uncertainties.

A risk-based approach will enable the development of management measures whose costs and impacts are in proportion to the probability and consequences of water scarcity, informed by a mature understanding of droughts from the perspectives of a range of communities and stakeholders. Improved understanding of associated uncertainties will provide the basis for identification of management responses that are robust to uncertainty, reflect society’s attitude to risk, and will help to make the case for adaptive management approaches informed by targeted data acquisition.

In order to achieve this vision we have identified seven scientific and applied objectives:

  1. To demonstrate the application of a risk-based approach to the management of droughts and water scarcity, and to promote the uptake of the research, through the analysis of real and synthetic droughts at catchment and national scales, in partnership with stakeholders in government, businesses and NGOs.
  2. To explore, and where appropriate, quantify drought impacts from environmental, economic, social and cultural perspectives.
  3. To provide enhanced scientific understanding and modelling capability to represent drought processes, and analysis of the frequency of droughts at catchment and national scales, in present and future climatic conditions.
  4. To examine the socio-technical framing of droughts and water scarcity, and inherent controversies, from the perspective of multiple stakeholders.
  5. To analyse governance arrangements for management of droughts and water scarcity and explore the opportunities to introduce alternative management arrangements.
  6. To analyse how in competitive and/or collaborative situations, accompanied by information asymmetry, the behaviours of different actors can modify the risks of water scarcity.
  7. To develop a dashboard for communicating the multiple impacts of water scarcity and evaluating the effectiveness of drought management options and trade-offs for a range of stakeholders.