Groundwater scientists are often challenged to bridge the gap between science and society, and to find effective ways to make the best use of scientific outcomes for the long-term protection and sustainable use of groundwater resources. Undoubtedly, climate change, the widespread diffusion of contaminants, disease pandemics, the shift towards more water-dependent economies as food demand increases, and the growing global population will persist in putting pressure on fragile water resources, with severe impacts on human well-being. Groundwater is key to water security and climate resilience across many parts of the world. Bringing the best evidence base to bear on management and protection of this resource is critical.
For these reasons, new paradigms are needed to ensure that research carefully addresses the reciprocity between people and groundwater, and the socioeconomic and environmental context in which they are situated. This requires the explicit inclusion of the social dimension of hydrogeological and hydro-geochemical assessments in groundwater management, as promoted by the recently developed discipline of socio-hydrogeology. The key aim of this discipline is to enhance a balanced multidisciplinary approach to sustainability issues that have a strong hydrogeological component or challenge. In addition, the aim is to encourage scholars from various fields to develop joint research frameworks that span wider and more integrated research questions and approaches.
The Socio-Hydrogeology Network of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH-SHG) was recently launched to promote the integration of social science into hydrogeology, and to include local perspectives into hydrogeological assessment and management by developing concepts on how interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation and research can be carried out. Furthermore, the network aims to highlight the importance of science communication in multiple contexts and beyond the hydrogeological community, and to serve as a platform for hydrogeologists who already work at the interface between society and groundwater. As a partner of the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP), IAH and the new IAH-SHG network strongly support the key aims of GRIPP in terms of identifying sustainable groundwater solutions through filling knowledge gaps and sharing information while networking across diverse partners.
To foster the debate on this emerging field within science-for-development and to encourage the application of interdisciplinary research at the interface of hydrogeology and social sciences, a special issue titled Socio-Hydrogeology in Groundwater Resources Assessments and Management was recently launched in Water (an open access journal; Impact Factor: 2.544).
For this special issue, a broad range of papers, including case studies, reviews or theoretical approaches on the following topics, can be submitted:
- Examples of socio-hydrogeological assessments supporting sustainable and equitable groundwater use.
- Participatory approaches in socio-hydrogeology, including stakeholder analysis and public engagement.
- Multidisciplinary frameworks to tackle groundwater issues.
- Challenges and opportunities arising from the integration of hydrogeology and social sciences, and from interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation.
Deadline for submission of manuscripts: April 30, 2021
Viviana Re and Theresa Frommen
Guest editors of the special issue, and co-chairs of the IAH-SHG Network