Fluss mit Staudamm

Working Group
“Social-Science Water Research”

The Working Group on Social-Science Water Research examines economic, political, social and legal aspects of the use and management of water. It aims at the development of concepts and social science contributions towards a sustainable, integrated and adaptive water resources management under the conditions of global change. It focuses on the following challenges in the water sector:

  • The achievement of a ‘good status’ of water bodies according to the EU Water Framework Directive;
  • The management of flood risks;
  • The management of water scarcity;
  • The provision of water services and the adaptation of water-related infrastructure systems to demographic and climatic change as well as to changing perceptions of the role of the public sector.

Reference is made to water problems in Germany, Europe as well as in selected transition and developing countries. The Working Group has expertise in the following areas:

(i) Evaluation and decision support

  • Valuation of environmental effects (contingent valuation, choice experiments);
  • Risk and vulnerability assessments in relation to extreme events;
  • Evaluation of alternative management options and development of decision support systems (multi-criteria analysis, cost-benefit analysis, cost-efficient combinations of measures, role of uncertainty).

(ii) Instruments

  • Analysis of pricing instruments for water supply and sanitation and their evaluation in terms of economic efficiency, social acceptability and cost recovery;
  • Analysis and evaluation of economic and command-and-control instruments for the reduction of pollution from point and non-point sources.

(iii) Governance and Institutions

  • Analysis of transboundary and local water conflicts and of conditions for cooperation;
  • Analysis of institutional conditions for an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), e.g. of the interplay of relevant laws;
  • Analysis of the development of water law in multi-level systems (e.g. EU − Federal Government − States), including a comparative analysis of European water laws;
  • Development and analysis of processes for the participative planning of measures and analysis of the framework conditions for their implementation.

The work draws on economic, legal, sociological, political science and philosophical concepts and methods. In many cases the research is done in close cooperation with natural scientists and engineers inside and outside the UFZ, as such contributing towards a inter- and transdisciplinary research for a sustainable use of water.