A game changer for UN 2023 Water Conference: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Water Sustainability (ISPWAS)

Varady, Robert G. / Annabelle Houdret / Wouter Buytaert / Anil Mishra / Abou Amani / Anik Bhaduri / Olcay Unver
External Publications (2023)



This paper proposes the establishment of an “Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Water Sustainability (ISPWAS)” to undertake a science-based global water assessment to forge a new relationship between science and policy-making. Thus it would bring evidence-based knowledge and rigorous analysis to policy-making sustainably addressing increasingly complex interconnected water challenges across sectors and bridge the growing science-policy gap that exists in many  countries. ISPWAS would share world-class, science-based, solution-oriented knowledge to support Member States in their decision and innovative policy-making that underpins and addresses the complexities of sustainably managing water  resources. It would help to identify and address the severe deficiencies in human capacity and water governance that hinder effective water management. ISPWAS would undertake the global assessment implemented through national entities with an intergovernmental validation mechanism. Governments need to base their policy and decision-making on sound scientific evidence. The widening science-policy gap must be closed to ensure that policies and regulations are more relevant and based on state-of-the-art science. ISPWAS would assist Member States in improving their knowledge of available tools and information for tackling water issues and their use in policy-making. It would facilitate coordination and exchanges among water-related efforts within  and between countries and aid Member States in monitoring national or global initiatives. Finally, ISPWAS would help to position water issues at the forefront of global sustainability agendas and processes. In short, it would significantly transform  water management and potentially be a major “game-changer” for accelerating implementation of Agenda 2030 and beyond.

About the author

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist


Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Hein, Jonas


Hornidge, Anna-Katharina

Development and Knowledge Sociology 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis