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EU Science Hub

Water governance

With its expertise and broad scientific networks, the JRC supports sustainable management of water resources, from the Danube region and the Mediterranean to Latin America and Africa.

Rivers and seas are a common resource for the countries that share their basins. A key example in Europe is the Danube river which is 2 800 km long, passes through 10 countries and receives water from 19 countries. The JRC’s activities focus on assessing water availability in the European region, tackling the major sources of pollution and investigating the effects of EU policy and international conventions on water scarcity and quality.

The JRC provides scientific support for the EU’s Danube Strategy by helping to find transboundary solutions for the restoration of water quality and the management of water-related risks along the Danube.

At a global level, the JRC is highly committed to supporting developing countries (particularly in Africa and Latin America) in finding their own sustainable solutions to water challenges by transferring technology and helping to build their capacity.


The JRC supports the implementation of the European Strategy for the Danube Region (the Danube Strategy) in close cooperation with the countries and national science academies of the region and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The JRC develops transboundary solutions for the restoration of water quality and the management of water-related risks.

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The Joint Danube Survey

EFAS – European Flood Awareness System

The Mediterranean

Water is a natural resource that is at risk in the Mediterranean region due to increasing water demand for domestic and industrial use, expansion of irrigated areas and tourism activities. This resource is likely to come under further pressure as a result of climate changes and rapidly growing populations, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East.

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The JRC is part of an expert network in the Mediterranean region that is notably involved in assessing the present and future availability of water resources in the region, taking into account needs for adaptation to climate change and extreme events. The JRC also investigates the effects of changes in current and future water quality resulting from modifications in policies, including the impacts on transitional and coastal areas. Moreover, the JRC simulates and forecasts flash floods using novel high resolution ensemble weather forecasts and rainfall radar data.

Africa and Latin America

Around the world, 2.5 billion people have no access to proper sanitation facilities, and about 768 million people have no access to clean water (UNICEF, 2013). As a consequence, about 3 575 million people die each year from water-related diseases (WHO, 2013). In order to address these issues, the JRC supports developing countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, in finding their own sustainable solutions to the water crisis.

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The JRC collaborates with more than 40 African (ACE-Water) and Latin American (RALCEA) Centres of Excellence in Water in almost 30 partner countries, with their governments, and with regional and continental institutions.

JRC activities include assessing available water resources, floods, droughts and water scarcity, and the impact of different management and climate scenarios and strategies on agricultural production and the environment. The JRC also develops methodologies to monitor the variability of water balance components, and develops and manages an innovative web-based information system – Aquaknow – in collaboration with EuropeAid, to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration within the water sector community.

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RALCEA project


Sun setting over a calm lake.
© Photographer/Credit: R.Loos

To find out more about the JRC's work on similar topics, explore the related JRC portfolios: