“Solving impeding problems and exploiting emerging opportunities optimally”

European Water Sector Intelligence (EWSI)

To address the challenges of the future, managers, developers, researchers, and policy makers need to work proactively and together in futures research. As the future is inherently uncertain and conventional futures research is complex and costly, future research is often delegated to a separate internal department or external bureau. This can be problematic as: (1) knowledge transfer from the futures researcher to the decision maker is difficult, and (2) much work is unnecessarily duplicated by similar organisations independently monitoring a shared context.
EWSI is a collective initiative by the European water organisations to deal with this challenge in an integrated and intelligent fashion


In an effort to become more efficient and sustainable, the water sector is confronted with a continuously changing context. Organisations within the water sector have to prepare themselves for pressing issues such as rising energy costs, expanding regulations, changing workforce, and efficiency drivers. In developing strategies towards robust service provision, water organisations rely upon insight into future trends and challenges and the knowledge and responses required to deal with these developments. Increased awareness of traditional, cause-and-effect strategic planning not being able to address the challenges of today’s complex and dynamic world has encouraged the development of new planning methods based on transdisciplinarity and knowledge co-production.

KWR Watercycle Research Institute has investigated and applied these novel methods in combination with participatory backcasting and social learning within the context of the Dutch Water Sector Intelligence (DWSI) https://www.dwsi.nl. DWSI is a collective initiative by the Dutch water sector to deal with this challenge in an integrated and intelligent fashion. The European Water Sector Intelligence (EWSI) initiative is of particular interest to European water organisations because it works towards a strategic understanding about future developments that act as building blocks for the design of their corporate strategies. EWSI also supports these organisations in contributing to agenda setting that is less arbitrary and more attuned to the knowledge needs of society.

What is EWSI?

EWSI is a knowledge platform for creating learning alliances that bring together strategic thinkers and decision makers from diverse water related organisations. The purpose of the learning alliance is to provide its members with insights into potential future issues as the basis for collectively reviewing possible responses to identify robust strategies and knowledge gaps. EWSI targets at the establishment of strategic learning alliances at a regional scale throughout Europe.

Who is EWSI?

EWSI is a collective initiative by European water organisations that form strategic learning alliances with various stakeholders from the private and public sector at a regional scale throughout Europe in order to meet the present and future challenges of the local water sector.
EWSI organizes think-tank sessions to bring together these stakeholders as well as strategic planners and decision makers from various water organizations in the regional context of the European partner. This initiative is facilitated by KWR Watercycle Research Institute.

Mission and vision

EWSI mission is to support European water organisations in their effort to make intelligent strategic decisions for robust service provision based on improved insights into future trends and challenges and the knowledge and responses required to address and deal with these developments.

EWSI’s vision is to become the strategic learning alliance for the European water sector.


The benefits of participation in EWSI are:

  • Information:
    exclusive access to applicable water sector related results of horizon scanning research. These results are summarized into trend alerts, which are available for downloading on this website.
  • Knowledge and insights:
    EWSI is more than just knowledge distribution. It is also about developing and understanding strategic knowledge. During think tank sessions, knowledge and insights will be cultivated through processes of social learning. EWSI members, trend researchers and leading experts external to the water sector are dedicated to share their knowledge and to learn from each other for a common purpose of gaining more insight into a particular development of interest.
  • Building blocks for strategy development:
    New bodies knowledge and insights developed by EWSI partners during think tank sessions provide new building blocks for strategy development. These building blocks are essential for adequate response strategy on a signalled development, which in turn allows organizations to develop new strategies or to optimize existing ones. Strategy development can take place in collaboration with a management team at the organizational level but also with all partner organizations.
  • Relevant research:
    Results of EWSI activities may support partner organizations to define relevant research questions and set the agenda for the European water sector at large. These results are applied by related knowledge institutes to program and conduct water sector related research individually. This research effort contributes to the further development of sector relevant knowledge.
  • Networking:
    EWSI emphasises its network function to support strategic planners and decision makers in exchanging knowledge, ideas and experience on future visions and adaptation. EWSI provides a learning based platform for them to do so.
  • Synergy:
    EWSI facilitates forms of collaboration between various stakeholders which can also be extended as follow-up activities such as agenda setting for joint research or response strategy development. EWSI provides partner organizations major opportunities to explore and establish new synergies that creates mutual benefits.