Gathering of the Ladenburg Research Network “Future Water Conflicts in Germany” (ZuWaKo)
September 26-28, 2023
A hole today, a lake tomorrow? The discontinuation of lignite mining will make it necessary to backfill or flood mines in future. Such flooding projects are controversial, the interests involved are diverse, and their feasibility is uncertain. Where will the water come from – or where will it then be lacking? How will flooding effect the environment? What conflicts of interest exist between the local inhabitants, agriculture, tourism, and industry? The scientists from the Ladenburg Research Network “Future Water Conflicts in Germany” (ZuWaKo) asked themselves these questions during a tour of the Inden open-cast lignite mine that took place as part of a project meeting at the Jülich Research Center from September 26 to 28, 2023.
The ZuWaKo project is currently concerned with problems of water competition and scarcity in Germany that are now emerging or are becoming more acute – also as a result of climate change. The focus here is on the mining sector, but also on river basins in general as well as newly arising conflicts in urban and agricultural irrigation. The goal of the project is to better understand the uncertainty, complexity, and conflicts potentially associated with water issues and to address these conflicts in good time. The project proposes to bring stakeholders and affected parties to the table already today, in order to develop robust strategies that can make a significant contribution toward mitigating conflict. So-called participatory modeling and simulation games are being used for this purpose. In participatory modeling, simplified qualitative models are created that depict future framework developments along with alternative strategies and measures. In the simulation game, these models are used to explore the consequences of one’s own decisions in interaction with those of others. At the gathering, scenarios up to the year 2050, a prototype of the simulation game, and an initial test model were presented and discussed and the next steps determined.