From December 7 to 8, 2022, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers gathered in Paris for the first groundwater summit of its kind at UN level. The high-level meeting’s objective was to formulate a clear message on groundwater to pass to the UN water summit in New York, 2023. The groundwater community gathered to draw attention to what many see as missing for example in the formulation of SDG6: Groundwater as a key element in meeting the SDGs. The event that also marked the final phase of the UN water year lasting from March 2022 to March 2023 was held under the title ‘Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible’.
How can social ecology benefit from political ecology and vice versa? An international two-day online workshop organized by ISOE researchers offered the opportunity for dialogue between these neighbouring research fields. What role do more-than-human entities such as plants, animals, rivers, resources, geomorphological formations and things play in conflict analysis? This was the overarching question of the session, which linked the concept of social-ecological systems with approaches of environmental justice, resistance and politics. In addition, the question, “What happens when theoretical claims of political ecology meet practical problems in transdisciplinary, social-ecological projects?” invited to reflect on power asymmetries in everyday research.
Groundwater is the main source of drinking water and irrigated food production worldwide. The invisible resource is, however, under stress from climate change, societal water withdrawals and long-distance effects – telecouplings. Virtual water trade, that is the water contained in traded products, and remote water supply are two examples of how society manages groundwater in such de-localised contexts. The junior research group ‘regulate’ examines the social-ecological regulation of groundwater against telecoupling effects in an inter- and transdisciplinary research setting. Case studies in Germany, Spain and Croatia provide the empirical basis to inform sustainable groundwater governance in Europe.