Our Path Ahead
Even before I became KWR’s Chief Executive Officer in July 2018, I was aware that the organisation is truly unique. This was confirmed by the recent Peer Review conducted by a group of internationally renowned scientists, who were commissioned to evaluate the performance of KWR over the last five years, in terms of both scientific quality and valorisation. They commented positively on our transition from a focus on drinking water to one on the broader urban water cycle, and concluded that ‘KWR is a unique institute of its kind’ whose ‘scientific level is assessed as very high’.
This gratifying recognition brings with it a responsibility to not only maintain, but indeed to enhance our understanding of the urban water cycle on various spatial and temporal scales. This is particularly important at a time when the whole world is experiencing the observable environmental impact of global climate change. One stark example was last year’s drought in Europe, when lower winter precipitation and higher than normal summer temperatures stretched our water supply capacity to its maximum. In this context, KWR’s research into increasing groundwater recharge is an example of how we ensure that the water utilities are prepared for extreme weather and climate events in the future.
However, it is not just our scientific excellence that is unique, both nationally and internationally. We also distinguish ourselves in collaboration. We are successfully reaching out to co-create research outputs with our water sector partners, university collaborators and other research organisations both at home and abroad. The best example of this is the Joint Research Programme with the Dutch-Flemish water utilities. We have been active for almost 70 years in knowledge co-creation with the Dutch water utilities and one Belgian water utility. This collaboration has its origins in 1952, and since 2002 it has taken the form of a coherent joint research programme. We embarked on the third consecutive Joint Research Programme (2018-2023) last year.
At the heart of these programmes is the co-creation model, in which water utilities play a central role. They co-design the programme with us. And they contribute to its success by co-creating outputs. In this way we make an important contribution to valorization together. The current Joint Research Programme promises to be the most exciting one to-date. In this we focus on the shift to a circular economy model within the water sector. That is also about means of achieving the so-called ‘digital water’ transformation. Hydroinformatics science and tools are important here.
KWR’s international vision and activities are ambitious and realistic at the same time. They are channelled mostly through the Watershare research network, which we manage on behalf of all 21 Watershare partners, through KWR contract research, and through our close collaboration with Allied Waters. We want to realize KWR’s global ambitions via these three routes and through an open co-creation model. We have also launched a program to recruit and retain the best global talent. It is my pleasure to report that we now have 27 international colleagues working at KWR. This demonstrates not only our commitment to providing excellence in research, but also to diversity.
Going forward, together with our researchers, partners and stakeholders, we are committed to growing KWR’s water research profile nationally and internationally. We will be leading the way toward creating new alliances and opportunities. We invite you to join us in co-creating this bright future for all.
Prof. Dragan Savic FREng
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