Director's Message - Dr. Howard Wheater
Welcome to the University of Saskatchewan Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS). We are an umbrella organization created in 2011 to foster research collaborations in the area of water security by addressing five research themes: Climate Change and Water Security, Land-Water Management and Environmental Change, Sustainable Development of Natural Resources, Water and Health and Socio-hydrology.
Fresh water is essential for human life and well-being, for economic development and for entire global ecosystems. While water can be a major threat through floods and droughts, water resources are also under pressure world-wide through population growth and movement, economic development, climate and land use changes, and pollution. Tensions are rising over scarce water resources, with potential for population migration in the face of water stress and growing awareness of the role of “embedded water” in food, goods and services. Effective water management is a social imperative and water security is increasingly recognized as a strategic national and international priority. Further, effective water management is becoming increasingly complex, requiring deep understanding of aquatic and terrestrial environments, their vulnerabilities to environmental change, and water management and protection challenges.
Canada faces unprecedented water challenges. Water contributes $23 billion annually to our economy, yet our water supplies face serious threats from climate change and pressures on resources. A 2009 World Wildlife Fund report points to significant concerns for the environmental sustainability of Canada’s major river systems, concerns exacerbated by climate change.
New interdisciplinary science and technological innovation is urgently required to inform water management and policy and to develop new solutions to critical problems facing global and domestic water security. It is now imperative to address these issues using the spectrum of relevant disciplines and to translate this integrated science into technologies and useful information for decision-making, working with stakeholders and state-of-the-art informatics tools. These global needs will be met through our institute, which is viewed as a founding institution for water sciences in Canada. GIWS takes advantage of the capacity, investments, sense of place and 45-year history of hydrological research here at the U of S. We address issues of national and international priority, contribute to innovation, and promote broad and inclusive research collaboration.
GIWS strategically positions Canada to deal with water security challenges nationally and internationally and lead to changes in water use, policy, management and reclamation, while training national and international students to ensure the world’s water security.
GIWS has come a long way since its foundation in 2011, and we are proud of our achievements thus far. However, none of this would have been possible without the far-sighted support of our major sponsors, the Canadian Government, through the Canada Excellence Research Chair program, the Province of Saskatchewan, and the U of S. I would like to record my personal thanks to these sponsors for their recognition of the strategic importance of water security and their vision and confidence in the U of S and myself to deliver on this important and unique opportunity.
Professor Howard Wheater, FREng
Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security
Founding Director, Global Institute for Water Security