At the AMSI/MASCOS/UNESCO Industry Workshop and Short Course on “Future Models for Energy and Water Management”, Brisbane 20-22 July 2009, we the participants from different disciplines and countries have considered the following:
- Water and energy are interconnected resources needing an integrated approach to manage them locally as well as globally. Both resources are becoming increasingly scarce which creates challenges for society at large.
- Understanding the impacts of water and energy projects on water quantity, quality, the environment and their links with climate change is important for tackling the global issues. Real time water and energy data collection capturing dynamics of environmental changes is necessary. This can only be accomplished by using mathematical sciences as a unified tool to bring an integrated approach to water and energy sector. This can help to develop benchmark solutions and to share data across different regions.
- Incorporation of observed complexities vs adoption of reductionism is an important consideration – complex and accurate models need to comply with law, institutions and policy. Modellers are required to deal with uncertainty by explaining it to people while satisfying local vs global needs. Modern tools and techniques such as learning machines can help in simplifying data collection and modelling of floods, droughts and climate change leading to strategy development and mitigation measures. Models that demonstrate the consequences of action/inaction and can be a powerful way of putting issues such as global change on the agenda. Modellers need to focus on appropriate role of optimisation and simulation techniques. Optimal scenarios as compared with optimisation techniques are different concepts in seeking widely accepted environmental solutions.
- It is not clear how to link sectoral water and energy models with stakeholders in the decision making processes. There is a need to build stakeholder trust in model fidelity and reliability through validation, education and consultation.
To face the above challenges and maximise the advantages from different sectors unified by mathematical sciences, we recommend the following to the UN organisations, governments, international donors, regional and local authorities:
- To invest in integrated modelling research for addressing water and energy issues and associated risks as a matter of priority in the context of environmental and global change, including climate, change under varying socio-economic conditions.
- To develop national databases on environmental and socio-economic conditions to tackle water and energy issues and to effectively link modelling and policy communities.
- To enable sharing of transboundary databases and models for preserving and enhancing the water and energy assets, shared across political and administrative boundaries.
- To provide stakeholders (policymakers, modellers, water and energy users and community) with access to spatial and temporal data and model outputs in easily understandable formats.
- To promote mathematical sciences at all levels of education especially in the utility of models as a key to sustainable development.
- To support the development of research and analysis methodologies that function across the diverse range of scales and issues of the water-energy nexus.
- To enable feedback at all stages of modelling and also policy links with models integrating biophysical, social, economic and environmental aspects.
- To facilitate integration of models across disciplines and of modelling outputs into policy development.
- To develop case studies and communication strategies to link community engagement, governance, financial information and risk assessment.