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EU Water Initiative - WATER for Life

IWRM Science Communication for Impact
Brussels, 20-22 June 2006

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Daily Programme ( 21 KB)

Participants list ( 88 KB)


The impacts of investments into research and technology for solving problems in any given society tend to arise only after long incubation times. Most of the time, the project duration is too short to produce highly visible impacts, except if there is a succession of several projects.

Impact of research has been shown to depend largely on three factors: (i) the trustfulness of the researcher, (ii) the perceived relevance of the message (research results) in relation to what the recipients is looking for, and (iii) the communication capabilities of the researcher.

Awareness about these factors can help researchers to become more effective in the way they address non-scientific publics and communicate their results outside scientific journals and conferences. It is understood that in some situations communication is not possible and no degree of sophistication in communication skills will remedy this:

There are none so deaf as those who do not want to hear.

However, in all other cases, becoming more aware and competent in communicating research to non-researchers is of immediate benefit for the researchers themselves and a big step towards plausible impact. Integrated water resources management poses a big challenge to researchers and social actors:

The challenge is to converge the water policy and management determined by political processes with the fundamentals exposed by ecosystem and social science.

Purpose of the workshop-cum-training

The main idea of the workshop-cum-training event (hereafter called 'workshop' for short) was studying, in an interactive mode, how researchers can best engage constructively with the mindsets of water users, water managers, different types of practioners and the water policy community. The purpose of the Workshop 'IWRM Science Communication for Impact' is to

  • Contextualise today's IWRM research in relation to the challenges of water policy reform;
  • and Acquire communication skills in relation to different target groups and communication needs.

See slide show here.


The workshop had a duration of three days. It alternated plenary lectures, discussions and outbreak training sessions. Emphasis was put on maximising interactive learning effects from the combination of presentations by resource persons, sharing of projects' experiences, discussions and exercises. The effectiveness of sessions and overall usefulness of the workshop was assessed by the participants at the end of the event.

Some additional background reading and information resources can be accessed here.

Almost 50 selected research leaders from European and international S&T cooperation projects related to integrated water resources management were attended teh workshop cum training. Project partners were selected on grounds of their willingness to invest into the area of communicating scientific knowledge, the improve the associated skills and the probability of them making a difference, e.g. through integrating such aspects more strongly into their research project activities. A small number of the ERA-Water Net and UNESCO were also invited. Limited funding was made available to cover their travel expenses and per diems in those cases, where the costs could not be charged to on-going projects.

Expected results

The investment in interested workshop participants was expected to lead to the following:

  • Greater awareness of the political nature of resource allocation in IWRM and the differing perceptions of other stakeholders
  • At least basic understanding of conditions of engagement with non-scientists in multi-stakeholder dialogues and practice
  • At least basic understanding of engagement with the media, extension services, and educationists
  • At least basic principles of cost-effective websites
  • Better appreciation on how to practice, how to get additional information and learning support
  • Selected case material based on project experience about good practice in stakeholder engagement and communication.

The following feedback on related experiences was received from participants in the light of the workshop experience.

Dates and Venue

The workshop took place in the Commission's premises in Champs de Mars in Brussels, from 20 to 22 June 2006. A press release was published upon its successful completion.