The Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USASK) is the top water resources research institute in Canada and one of the most advanced cold regions hydrology centres in the world. GIWS is dedicated to helping protect our precious freshwater resources needed for the world’s growing demand for sustainable food production, mitigating the risk of water-related disasters such as floods, droughts, and fires, predicting and forecasting extreme global change through the use of advanced remote sensing and modelling techniques, and co-creating traditional knowledge with western science to empower Indigenous communities in protecting water health.
GIWS is led by Executive Director Dr. Jay Famiglietti, Canada 150 Research Chair in Hydrology and Remote Sensing and Professor at USASK's School of Environment and Sustainability and the Department of Geography and Planning. Before moving to Saskatchewan in July 2018, Famiglietti served as the Senior Water Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and he was a faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, and at the University of Texas at Austin. His research group uses satellites and develops advanced computer models to track how freshwater availability is changing around the globe. A fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, Famiglietti is a regular advisor to state, provincial and federal government officials on water security issues.
GIWS is co-located with Environment Canada’s National Hydrology Research Centre at Innovation Place in Saskatoon. GIWS also leads the largest freshwater research program in the world, the pan-Canadian Global Water Futures Program that includes partners from the University of Waterloo, McMaster University, and Wilfrid Laurier University.
GIWS was funded initially through the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security (CERC), a $30-million, joint federal-provincial-university commitment between 2011-2018, and led by Founding Director Dr. Howard Wheater, one of the world’s foremost hydrologists.
Officially launched in March 2011, GIWS builds upon leading expertise and capacity in water research at USASK. At GIWS, faculty and government scientists work with students and post-doctoral fellows on interdisciplinary teams to understand how climate change, land management practices, and development of natural resources are affecting our water environment, and develop the improved modelling tools needed to sustainably manage water. GIWS combines expertise in natural sciences, engineering and the social sciences, recognising that people and their activities are of critical importance for water science and management.
To undertake world-class research that enables and enhances water security. We define water security as the sustainable use and protection of water resources, the safeguarding of access to water functions and services for humans and the environment, and protection against water-related hazards (flood and drought).
- Create a focus and platform for interdisciplinary collaboration that recognizes the societal dimensions of water security, human impacts on the environment, and the linkages and feedbacks between atmosphere, land and water systems. This requires new integration of the relevant spectrum of natural, health and social sciences, public policy and engineering;
- Develop the knowledge, science and technologies needed to support integrated water quantity and quality management in the face of uncertain climate and water resource futures, and address local, regional and global water security agendas;
- Develop partnerships with key stakeholders to translate science into policy and management support to meet water security challenges, including interactions among water, food, energy and ecosystem services (i.e., benefits to human welfare), climate change adaptation and mitigation challenges, and the human health agenda;
- Provide tools, technologies, and computer models for application to key globally significant water security issues, with international application; and,
- Create a unique opportunity for governments, industry and universities to invest in and collaborate on one of our most pressing global issues.