International Water Security Network (IWSN)

The overall aim of this research is to address water security, particularly from the perspectives of adaptation to scarcity and social vulnerability, urbanization, reliance on groundwater, the nexus between water and energy, and ecosystem resilience.  This aim will be achieved through a combination of workshops/dialogues, meetings, collaborative projects, and significantly, student training.  Over the course of the project, we intend to assess water governance and water-security challenges in the following transboundary regions in the Arid Americas (listed according to tier-order of partnership and engagement, with Tier 1 being the initial priority, beginning in Year 1):

  • CIMG0449Tier 1:  Arid-semiarid U.S.–Mexico border region
  • Tier 2:  Andean Chile–Argentina
  • Tier 3:  Andean Peru-Bolivia
  • Tier 4:  Arid Northeastern Brazil interstate rivers

Building and strengthening relationships is an important component of this strand of work, including researcher-scientist networks in the U.S.-Mexico border region and beyond, via site visits, convening and participating in workshops, co-hosting of events such as science-policy dialogues, exchange of students, and development of joint research activities and publications.  An essential element is also the training and engagement of graduate students, stakeholder engagement and workshops, and the development of communities of practice.

Research will entail direct involvement in on-the-ground projects, such as developing small-scale projects that address elements of water security, using field cases where transboundary or transjurisdictional conditions exist.

The development of a water-security index will help to assess if a region is water-secure.  There exist numerous indicators of security; some are sociocultural and economic, other physiographic, still others political and geopolitical.  We have begun developing an adaptive-capacity index, which we will modify to be a water-security index-related to existing poverty and sustainability indices.

Some regions, especially in transboundary zones, are particularly vulnerable to water shortages or water-quality problems and will be the ‘hotspots’ focused on in this research. These areas are useful testbeds for calibrating the index, and will serve as excellent sites for students, who will experience conditions that highlight the challenges to overcoming water insecurity.



Lloyd’s Register Foundation 

The International Water Security Network is funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a charitable foundation helping to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research.

Lead Partners

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.50.16 AMUniversity of West England 

UWE, Bristol is the lead partner in the IWSN. As well as managing the project, UWE is researching urban water security.


Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.50.27 AM

Monash South Africa 

Monash South Africa are leading on the Water Quality Security programme of IWSN.


Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.50.32 AM

University of Arizona 

The University of Arizona are leading on the Transboundary Water Security programme of IWSN.



Organizations working with IWSN

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.50.42 AMEl Colegio de Sonora 

In collaboration with the University of Arizona Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, researchers at El Colegio de Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico, are addressing some of the challenges of water security in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and in the Sonora and Yaqui Rivers in northern Mexico.