Our (long-term) goal is to design and establish strategic learning alliances on a regional scale throughout Europe that are geared towards participatory futures research for (1) planning urban water systems intelligently and (2) programming European water research agendas strategically.

Our approach

Our approach is built around a knowledge management instrument that incorporates a novel combination of social learning theory and participatory futures research to produce scientifically informed, intersubjectively reviewed insights into future developments that have strategic relevance for the organisations involved. These insights lead to new avenues for further research and developments that may have strategically significant consequences. A research team at KWR has published papers based on the theory behind this concept. The concept has also been applied and tested through designing and facilitating DWSI since 2008 and programme management of the joint research programme of the Dutch water sector.

Trend alerts

A team of futures studies researchers at KWR Watercycle Research Institute applies the SEPTED approach to systematically examine and report on trends and developments in the water sector. SEPTED stands for social, economic, political, technological, ecological, and demographic dimension of these trends. EWSI members have access to the results of this research via concise Trend Alerts on the website. The futures research team also participates in various networks such as the World Future Society and European Foresight Platform and attends conferences to signal and understand the most important and latest developments. The knowledge acquired through this research is used to program the themes for the think-tank sessions and select the best external experts to fuel the strategists of the water sector with new insights.

Think tank sessions

Strategic thinkers and decision makers from our partner organisations organize themselves into a think-tank. This think-tank approach reflects the core of EWSI which is tailored to the principals of Social Learning. Think-tank sessions aim to facilitate not only knowledge transfer but also co-learning. Through a process of collective exploration members benefit from the diversity of knowledge and insights provided by representatives from all corners of the water sector. Leading experts from outside the water sector are also invited to the sessions to provide fresh perspectives. Comprehensive group processes are used to reveal and test participant’s assumptions and facilitate generation and analysis of alternatives to ascertain whether or not adaptation is needed. These think-tank sessions provide participants with new building blocks for their response strategies.