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The India UK Water Centre (IUKWC) is to close on 30th September 2020.

Over the space of four years, IUKWC has built an active community of over 1000 water scientists and stakeholders from both countries through its Open Network, and has engaged directly with water resource managers across India to promote Indo-UK freshwater research. The Centre’s activities and publications have underlined the complementarity in expertise, significant enthusiasm for collaboration, and breadth of ideas that exist between the two countries in the field of water science.

The IUKWC has provided opportunities for networking between scientists through workshops and research exchanges, as well as supporting pilot-level projects exploring new ideas for future collaborative research. The Centre’s Open Network, which currently has 1060 members across India, the UK and a few other countries, has enabled scientists to find and interact with others who have similar research interests. Scientific workshops, on topics including freshwater earth observations and Himalayan hydro-climatology, have enabled the sharing of research outputs and the building of collaborative relationships and project ideas primed for future funding. On the back of IUKWC events, a number of members have submitted Indo-UK joint proposals, including bids to Global Challenges Research Fund and other similar initiatives. Activities focused on early-career researchers, such as the IUKWC’s Researcher Exchange Scheme, have helped participants establish wider networks in both countries with which they can progress their careers.

As well as strengthening links across the Indian and UK water science communities, the Centre has helped researchers connect with policy makers, implementation agencies, and the end-users of water science through its User Engagement and Grassroots initiatives. Designed to promote the outputs of recent research projects and enhance the co-design of future science, these initiatives have included events focused on water availability and quality in West Bengal, freshwater monitoring in Kerala, and water resources management in Madhya Pradesh. Participants were able to gain a better understanding of the needs of these stakeholders and the opportunities for future high impact research in the area of water. The Grassroots events in West Bengal took this co-design a step further, by advancing understanding of surface and ground water supply in the Sundarbans through two pilot projects. These IUKWC-supported projects were developed through collaborations between UK and Indian scientists, NGOs, and water users.

The Centre has published a range of Water Briefs, authored by Open Network members, exploring the state of science in a field, and opportunities for knowledge exchange and capacity development. The Briefs confirm the complementary scientific expertise that exists in India and the UK across many components of water science, and offer significant collaboration opportunities to improve water resource management. The development of a SMART rivers concept, improvement of catchment planning and management through incorporation of ecosystem services assessments, and enhancement of water quality improvement strategies and monitoring networks, were identified as just some of the areas where Indo-UK collaborative science could pave the way. These Water Brief publications along with other IUKWC outputs can be found on the IUKWC website. In addition to IUKWC publications, a number of Open Network Members have co-authored peer-reviewed papers stemming from Centre activities.

Reflecting the maturity of the India-UK research partnership, which is now evolving to focus on jointly addressing global challenges, the decision has been taken to close the Centre. As such, operations will cease at the end of September. The IUKWC Management and funders hope that the activities it has supported over the last four years have developed a strong foundation for continuing close research ties between UK and India in the area of water. They would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members, stakeholders, and supporters who have engaged with the Centre over this time, and to encourage them to continue their collaborations, in order to enhance India-UK research capabilities and jointly tackle the world’s water challenges.

In preparation for the closure of the IUKWC a few changes will be made to its website in order to protect members’ information and IUKWC outputs. The Open Network will be removed from the website at the end of September. The IUKWC website will be mothballed, and while the Centre’s Water Briefs and Activity Reports will remain available for at least 12 months, other information such as presentations and recordings from the webinar series will be removed. In line with GDPR, personal information collected from members will be destroyed by the date of closure. UKCEH and IITM will no longer be able to support nor advise the IUKWC community after the end of September 2020.

Statement issued on behalf of the IUKWC Management Board hosted by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, and IUKWC funders the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and UKRI Natural Environment Research Council, UK.