Online Conference
Themes & Issues

Addressing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change

Currently, climate change has become an undeniable major pressure on the world’s freshwater resources.  Yet, the effects of climate change on groundwater, the most significant freshwater resource on Earth, are still poorly understood. Somewhat neglected by policymakers and ignored by the public, groundwater management, governance and monitoring are less developed compared to surface water, globally.  More up-to-date research and knowledge generation and sharing, as well as more efforts to raise awareness of the links between groundwater and climate change are also critical to ensure the sustainable management of this vital resource.

IWRA’s Online Conference (29 – 30 October 2020) addressed these challenges and priorities in order to manage resiliently groundwater resources under climate change. The conference’s main goal was to, ultimately, promote the sharing and exchange of state-of-the-art scientific and policy knowledge on the links between an increased resilience of groundwater resources and climate change for the sustainable governance, use and management of these resources in all regions of the world.

This new innovative IWRA event had the overarching theme of “Addressing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change” with five different themes, which you can discover below: 



The intensification of precipitation in a warming world highlights the critical importance of water storage and the vital role played naturally by groundwater, the worlds largest distributed store of freshwater, in sustaining ecosystems and enabling climate-resilient water supplies. This session welcomes submissions that address the direct impact of climate change on groundwater systems and indirect impacts of climate change such as increased groundwater withdrawals for public water supplies, irrigation and industry. Studies assessing conceptually and quantitatively interactions between groundwater and other components of the hydrosphere and biosphere under climate change including conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water are of particular interest.  

1.1 Long-term groundwater monitoring and climate variability
1.2 Groundwater-surface water-atmosphere interactions
1.3 Groundwater indicators, data and reporting
1.4 Groundwater sustainability for different uses such as water supply, irrigation, industry…
1.5 Offshore and coastal aquifers, small islands



Impacts of climate on nature and society call for science ingenuity for better planning and management. Where climate change is expected to affect important natural fluxes into and out of the system, such as (direct and indirect) recharge, evapotranspiration and discharge into surface water bodies, these impacts will alter hydrogeochemical dynamics, groundwater quality and pollution state. Sea level rise will modify hydraulic gradients and, possibly in combination with coastal storm surges, aggravate saltwater intrusion. Theme 2 will address future trends in groundwater quality and associated health linked to climate change, with particular interest in remediation, through treatment, dilution and other methods.

2.1 Groundwater pollution from agriculture (nitrates, pesticides
2.2 Groundwater pollution from natural disasters (floods, tsunamis, hurricanes,…)
2.3 Groundwater pollution and public health
2.4 Groundwater salinization
2.5 Aquifer restoration: existing and emerging methodologies
2.6 Bioremediation and bio-stimulation of aquifers
2.7 Wastewater treatment and aquifer recharge
2.8 Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)



Technology has been used throughout the centuries for groundwater extraction, and gradually, tools have been developed to support monitoring (e.g. loggers), assessment (e.g. models) and management (e.g. water meters) of groundwater resources. Especially development of ICT has brought variety of new applications such as cell-phone apps (e.g. for monitoring, water markets, governance), modelling environments, serious gaming, information portals, etc. Often, new technologies are developed in other sectors (e.g. remote sensing, drip irrigation, building info modelling, solar pumping, thermal energy) but provide a significant contribution to better groundwater management and increased resilience to climate change. Accordingly, this theme welcomes contributions across sectors and disciplines.    

3.1 Advances technologies for monitoring and observation of data and processes relevant for understanding of impact of climate change on groundwater resources

3.2 Technological novelties improving simulation and prediction of impact of climate change on groundwater resources as well as effects of adaptation measures

3.3 Technology and technology-supported measures for groundwater management, including cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches to building resilience to climate change



Strong governance and institutions are central to protect and safeguard groundwater and stimulate its resilience. Theme 4 will consider innovative groundwater governance models (polycentric, multilevel, network, etc.), legal systems and policy designs, including policy (and social) learning. It will also consider the centrality of equity in groundwater governance, in the context of achieving the SDGs and issues related to (ground)water markets and pricing. It will cover groundwater rights and resilience, related to community and ecosystem-based adaptation, nature-based solutions and green infrastructure. Finally, look at groundwater governance as an integral part of socioecological systems (public consultation, information systems, participation and co-management).

4.1 Multi-level groundwater governance: institutions and management plans, innovative network governance

4.2 Groundwater equitable use and groundwater in the SGDs

4.3 Groundwater tarification and pricing, (ground)water markets and incentives

4.4 Groundwater law, policy, monitoring and evaluation

4.5 Groundwater rights and licensing, regulation (incl. for groundwater mining)

4.6 Groundwater community and ecosystem-based adaptation and resilience

4.7 Public consultation, stakeholders’ information, participation and co-management



As the largest liquid freshwater reservoir on earth groundwater plays a huge role in adaptation to climate and global change. At the same time its invisible nature makes groundwater difficult to assess and manage, which has already led to overabstraction and contamination by human activities. There is thus a growing need for trained and skilled professionals in this field. Theme 5 welcomes abstracts on the way in which education and capacity building are addressing groundwater resilience under climate change, at different education levels, from national programmes to international cooperation and co-construction of knowledge, and using a variety of tools, from face-to-face education to distance e-learning, proven particular relevant in 2020. 

5.1 Groundwater education, training and capacity building
5.2 Technologies and models for distance e-learning
5.3​ Cooperation and co-management of transboundary aquifers
5.4​ International education activities