About us


The Commission for Water SUSTAINABILITY of the International Geographical Union (IGU) was founded in 1998 by Dr. Tony Jones (Aberystwyth) as “Study Group on Hydrological Extreme Events”. It was upgraded to Commission status in 2002 and renamed to “Commission for Water Sustainability”. Following the retirement of several founding members and the ending of the term of the previous chair, Prof. C. Cassardo, in 2015 the composition of the Steering Committee (SC) recently changed. With strong encouragement from IGU executives and the renewed confirmation as a Commission in good standing by IGU Exco in 2017 a new Chair and Steering Committee were elected. Since then efforts have been made to consolidate and update the list of active members by sending out templates on research profiles to over 350 contacts listed on the Commission’s data base. All approached people who returned the filled-in templates in due time are now officially recognised as active members of the Commission (for details on statistics and profiles see respective sections on this website).


The Commission strives to provide a recognised platform for international scientific exchange of physical and human Geographers as well as scientists from other disciplinary backgrounds sharing insights, knowledge and data on water- sustainability in its broadest sense. This includes natural and human impacts on the availability and quality of water and their implications for sustainable water use at local, regional and global scale. The Commission specifically encourages the dialogue between physical and human water sciences including economic, cultural, legal and medical aspects to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of natural and man-made factors governing water sustainability. A particular focus is on water–stressed areas worldwide encouraging and fostering mutually beneficial collaboration between scientists from developing and developed nations.


The Commission aims to interpret “sustainability” in the widest possible sense, including the sustainability of the environment in the face of water development work as well as the sustainability of water resources. It aims to foster links between the human and physical aspects of water management, with specific concern for the sustainability of water resources and for the impacts of water management on the environment. The Commission holds regular international conferences (e.g. Lisbon 1998, Aberystwyth 1999, Seoul 2000, Zaragoza 2001, Durban 2002, Kyoto and Yerevan 2003, Glasgow 2004, Buenos Aires 2005, Brisbane 2006, Asheville 2007, Tunis 2008, Torino 2009, Santiago 2011, Cologne 2012, Kyoto 2013, Lanzhou, 2013). We circulate a regular newsletter to registered corresponding members and maintain a website, which includes information on conferences and abstracts of papers. Selected full papers are also published as Special Issues of leading international journals (e.g. Hydrological Processes 2002, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 2003, GeoJournal 2004, Area 2006, Physical Geography 2006, Water 2010) and as books (e.g. Environmental Change and Water Sustainability 2002, The rational use and conservation of water resources in a changing environment 2005).

The Commission also aims to support collaborative and multidisciplinary research amongst its members. This includes joint work on global water sustainability under the leadership of Prof. Jones that resulted in the publication of an international textbook examining physical and human aspects affecting availability and usability of the world’s water resources [Jones JAA (ed.) (2010): Water Sustainability – A Global Perspective, Hodder Education, London, pp. 452, visit: http://www.hodderplus.com/geography)]. As part of the Commission’s involvement in the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE), a joint initiative of the UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) launched in February 2008, Prof. Jones together with other Commission members addressed the need as well as ways and means to preserve and protect the groundwater component as a critical element in the global water cycle [Jones JAA (ed.) (2011): Sustaining Groundwater Resources – A Critical Element in the Global Water Crisis. Springer, pp. 228].

On bilateral level an ongoing exchange programme supports joint research projects on water and climate-related issues in water-stressed regions of South Africa between the University of Turin (Italy) and North-West University (Vaal Campus, South Africa) under the leadership of Proffs. C. Cassardo and F. Winde. It is envisaged to further expand number and extent of our bi- and multilateral research projects in selected countries by drawing on the wide spectrum of expertise and nationalities represented in the Commission.

Current focal points of the Commission’s research include but are not limited to the following topics:

• Climatic and meteorological impacts on water resources
• Water in urban environments
• Groundwater management
• Water availability in arid and semi-arid regions
• Impacts of mining on surface and groundwater
• Hydrological processes and extreme events
• Integrated catchment and water resource management
• Water pollution and health
• Hydro – GIS (Geographical Information Systems).