Water resources management presents significant challenges for the development of populations of southern Europe. Considered frequently as a common good, water is essential to life and to numerous human activities, and suffers their negative impacts. In the Mediterranean region, the significance of irrigated agriculture, the intense urbanisation, and the tourism are increasing their demands for water, requiring therefore important efforts to find new strategies to better manage this scarce resource.

Following the goals of the Water Framework Directive in Europe it is important to develop new methods for more efficient water management to meet the local needs. The main issue framing the current project relies on the need to increase the efficiency of water management under the scenarios of climate change and increased demand. The pressure caused by these scenarios threatens the agro-industrial employment, can reduce food security, obliges to make changes in models of water management, brings damage to aquatic ecosystems, and increases desertification and loss of biodiversity.

Those problems require the implementation of an holistic analytical approach and an integrated management approach. In order to implement such approaches, the combined socio-economic and ecologic components of our territories should be analysed focusing on their interrelated dynamics. In order to support such analytical approach a vast literature has developed over recent years upon the concept of social-ecological systems, or in short, socio-eco-systems, which can be defined as complex adaptive systems where social and biophysical agents are interacting at multiple temporal and spatial scales.

It is within the ambition of the ICARUS proposal the development of ad hoc socio-ecosystem models, providing a schematic and simplified functional representation of the real world in which the most important relationships for the given problem are included, and analysed in view of plausible scenarios of global change for the development of local adaptation strategies for the management of water resources in the agricultural sector.


Project’s objectives

General objectives:

  1. To increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture by analysing and understanding the biophysical, socio-economic and institutional dimensions of sustainable water management and by identifying innovative adaptation strategies, practices and tools for saving water in irrigated production systems, which could be disseminated also in other Mediterranean countries.
  2. To support the implementation of the WFD by promoting transboundary exchange of experiences, by broadening the range of methods and tools available to water managers. The project evaluates the methods of different models and approaches, tries to enhance their usability and to integrate scenarios which may give more detailed information of the impact of climate change. The selected areas comprise different European regions from the south of Europe which delivers a range of impacts. The main focus of the project is on water management in the agricultural sector, the impact of climate change, consequent adaptation strategies in over the next 20 years.

Specific objectives:

  • To understand the processes of socio-economic change in agriculture and their impacts in water demand and water availability changes
  • To contribute for better and scientifically sound water governance through the understanding of the policy, legal and institutional frameworks in which decisions regarding water management take place
  • To contribute for the involvement of key water management stakeholders in the water management decision-making processes
  • To develop and test decision support methods and tools to integrate management of supply and demand for water resources in the context of global changes and in the frame of an integrated participatory approach
  • To propose, the introduction of the climate change perspective in the practice of Integrated Water Resources Management, via the adoption of CC adaptation strategies within the plans for water saving in agriculture.

More information on the project…


ICARUS project home page