The India-UK Water Centre (IUKWC) was a virtual joint centre established in 2016 and funded by the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The aim of the India-UK Water Centre was to promote cooperation and collaboration between NERC-MoES water security research in order to establish a platform for, and legacy of, long-term partnerships and dialogue between Indian and UK water researchers, water policy-makers and water businesses.
The Centre had five key cross-sectoral themes:
- Developing hydro-climate services to support water security;
- Building cross-sectoral collaborations to understand the dynamic interactions across the water-energy-food nexus;
- Using new scientific knowledge to help stakeholders set objectives for freshwater management;
- Improving freshwater monitoring frameworks and data for research and management;
- Transforming science into catchment management solutions.
These themes guided the various activities that the Centre facilitated.
2. Activities and Outcomes
The Centre facilitated linkages amongst the community and sought to support a range of activities which brought together users, stakeholders and researchers across sectors in order to facilitate development of cross-disciplinary partnerships, exchange knowledge and build capacity.
The IUKWC's activities included
- Six workshops (3 held in India, 3 in the UK)
- 13 Researcher Exchanges (7 Junior, 5 Senior)
- 3 User Engagement Initiatives (UEI)
- 3 Grassroots Field Exposure Sessions (GFES)
- 6 Pump-Priming Projects.
- 9 Webinars
- News/Community news
These activities were initiated from the wider Indian-UK water research community and delivered with support from the Centre. Further information about the Centre's activities can be found here .
The Centre was able to achieve its aim through these activities and for more detailed evidence of the outcomes of the Centre, please click here .
3. The Open Network of India-UK Water Scientists
This was an online, searchable database of individuals and organisations based in the UK and India with research interests in water security, as well as other stakeholders such as policy makers, operations and management decision makers, and businesses interested in water science.
Hosted on the IUKWC website, the Open Network provided an open information source for members, as well as being used by the IUKWC to disseminate communications, circulate calls for new activities and identify participants for commissioned activities.
The network of researchers, policy makers, businesses and decision makers, grew continually over the years, and at the time of decommissioning membership stood at just over 1000, with 95% of members coming from a huge range of institutions across both countries, and 5% comprising of State and National bodies in India, NGOs, and businesses.
The Centre was hosted jointly by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology on behalf of NERC and MoES. It was led by a Management Board and supported by a Secretariat based at UKCEH and IITM. The Management Board was jointly chaired by the Centre co-ordinators, Prof. Harry Dixon (UKCEH) and Dr Atul Kumar Sahai (IITM). NERC and MoES, with other invited Ministries and Departments in India served as the Steering Group that oversaw the strategic direction and progress of the IUKWC.
5. Lessons Learned
- Networks such as the IUKWC, need long-term sustained funding to develop and strengthen as it takes time to establish the community. Mixed funding models could help.
- Involvement of an advisory group to include representatives from each target stakeholder sector can be beneficial to sustain relevance over time.
- Engagements have to be in step with funding availability, especially in the UK – so that ideas can be developed into successful proposals and collaborations strengthened
- Stakeholders should be looked at as co-creators of research. Funding call timescales can make this challenging. Mechanisms such as the GFES and UEI found to be valuable and critical to embedding real change - Closing the Loop!
- Developing successions of interlinked activities helps learning and capacity building - not only for early career but stakeholders.
- Engagement should always be two way - India has incredible start up culture and tech development that the UK HEIs/funders can learn from; and the UK have good basin management experience that India can learn from.