Who will get how much water? Conflicting goals of future water distribution in Germany


Water is one of the most important raw materials on earth. But what if it becomes increasingly scarce as a result of climate change and future weather extremes? An interdisciplinary group of scientists is setting out to identify conflicts of interest in the future distribution of water in Germany and to devise possible solutions.

Even in Germany, which is rich in water, local water stress will lead to intensified conflicts of interest in the future, for example between agriculture, industry, energy and water management, and the protection of groundwater and ecosystems. By means of modeling and simulations, researchers intend to make interdependencies between the individual sectors and interest groups transparent, and to pinpoint possible conflicts of interest in water usage.

The following questions are the focus of the funded project: What influence will future environmental conditions have on expected water conflicts in Germany? How will the future strategies and decisions of various social protagonists affect conflict situations? What combinations of strategies and measures can exacerbate or mitigate future water conflicts? How can modeling and simulations be used to support protagonists in anticipating conflicts and in devising strategies?

Three case studies of particular relevance for Germany are planned as examples. Forschungszentrum Jülich is examining conflicts of aims in a river catchment area under conditions of future climate extremes. The University of Stuttgart is conducting a case study on conflicts in irrigation, with a particular focus on the irrigation of agricultural land and watering of municipal green spaces in view of future aridity. The Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg is analyzing (cross-border) water conflicts that arise in connection with large-scale lignite mining projects and their subsequent flooding.

The findings from the case studies will be incorporated into the development of a web application for professional users in science, administration, and practice. The workshop version of this application will be tested together with interested protagonists in the form of simulations and in university teaching. This project fundamentally aims for the ongoing development of a participative, semi-quantitative, software-supported approach to a system analysis that can be transferred to other topics and conflicts of aims. The conflict field of water is to be made experienceable for all protagonists, to enable them to devise strategies that conform to goals while at the same time mitigating conflicts.

Projekt partners
  • University of Stuttgart, Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Research (ZIRIUS)
    Dr. Wolfgang Weimer-Jehle (Coordination)
    Dr. Hannah Kosow (Coordination)
    Janina Moschner
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation (IEK-STE)
    Dr. Stefan Vögele
    Simon Brauner
  • Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg, Environmental and Resource Economics
    Prof. Dr. Dirk Rübbelke
    Anja Brumme
    Fabian Hölzlberger
Project Advisory Board
  • Dr. Ines Dombrowsky, German Institute of Development and Sustainability, Program Management “Environmental Governance”
  • Prof. Dr. Martina Flörke, Ruhr University Bochum, Chair of Engineering Hydrology and Water Resources Management
  • Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Jeromin, Lake Constance Water Supply Association
  • Dr. Hagen Koch, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Prof. Dr. Hannah Schmid-Petri, University of Passau, Chair of Science Communication
  • Prof Dr. Vanessa Schweizer, University of Waterloo (Canada), Department of Knowledge Integration
Further information
  • Link zur Projektseite (folgt)



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