26/04/2021 - Interdisciplinary approaches for addressing the 21 century water challenges

Interdisciplinary approaches for addressing the 21 century water challenges.  Scientific symposium.

26 April 2021
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Call for contributions from Circle U. Partners



There is no life without water. Water is a driver for development: it is vital for human nutrition and health and essential for ecosystem management, agriculture, energy, economic development, peace, and security. Yet, billions of people around the world are continuing to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Some 2.2 billion people around the world lack access to safely managed drinking water services, 4.2 billion people do not have access to safely managed sanitation services, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities. Many societies are further confronted with increasing water scarcity, lowering water quality and the indirect impacts of climate changes on water system functions and services. In addition, in many regions of the world, governance and institutions and financial resources dedicated to water management are insufficient for reaching a sustainable trajectory for water management. The current challenges related to water are therefore multi-dimensional, multi-scale and complex, and intertwined with the many other challenges of the sustainable development agenda. Addressing these complex challenges needs multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, and expertise from different scientific disciplines. This should be grounded on a thorough understanding of the water system, the water system processes and associated water services and functions. 

The Circle U. is a recently created European university alliance that aims constructing, by 2025 an inclusive, research-intensive and interdisciplinary European university. Students, staff and partners from civil society, businesses and the public sector will collaborate to jointly develop competencies and solutions for keeping Europe and the planet healthy, peaceful, democratic and prosperous. Louvain4water is a transdisciplinary consortium that develops basic and applied research, advanced training and services in the field of water at UCLouvain.  The expertise available in the Circle U. alliance, or in local platforms of participating universities like the Louvain4water platform yields excellent opportunities for consolidating the science base needed to address the current water challenges. Yet, such expertise should be better mapped and linked in order to empower the capacities of participating institutions of the Circle U. alliance in addressing water challenges. 

The overall goal of this symposium is to strengthen the conceptual interdisciplinary scientific framework that is needed to address the current multidimensional water challenges and to bring together expertise from different partner institutions of Circle U. in the water science domain. The specific objective is to illustrate and discuss on how interdisciplinarity can be boosted to address the complex water challenges and to draw a roadmap to set-up interdisciplinary activities in the water science domain in the realm of Circle U.

Symposium format 

To reach these goals, a scientific symposium will be organised at UCLouvain 26 April 2021. The symposium will be formatted along four programme activities: 

  • A panel debate on water and global health (45 minutes). In this panel, experts from the different universities will participate and debate on how interdisciplinary science can better be mobilized to reach current global water and health issues 
  • Key note presentations (140 minutes): Experts from the different universities will give some lectures on current progress in the water science domain. We aim for 7 key note presentations of each 20 minutes.  
  • Pitch presentations (45 minutes): Scientific members of the different universities will be able to showcase their work in the water science domain (3-5 minutes per presentations).
  • A business meeting (60 minutes) aiming to draw a roadmap for interdisciplinary research in the water science domain within the realm of Circle U. 

The symposium will further be linked to the Film Festival “Go Future”, that will take place in Louvain-la-Neuve in April 2021.  

Given the current pandemic, the symposium will be organised online. The event will be streamed and can be followed remotely on virtual platforms.

Call for contributors and contributions

Contributions for panelists,  key note speakers and poster-pitch presentations  are sought in the following domains:

  • water – energy -food nexus; 
  • water and climate security; 
  • water and public health; 
  • water and human rights; 
  • water governance and diplomacy; 
  • integrated water resources management. 


  • Call for contributions: 1 February 2021
  • Deadline for submitting keynote proposals and contributions: 15 March 2021
  • Finalisation of the programme: 29 March 2021
  • Scientific symposium: 26 April 2021


Free participation is only granted for members of the Circle U. alliance universities.

Publication and diffusion 

The proceedings of the meeting, including abstracts of keynote lectures and posters will be distributed virtually, through the Louvain4water website. 

Registration and contributions should be made using the following form by 15  March 2021: 

Click here to register and submit your contribution

Organising committee

The meeting is organised by the scientific committee of the Louvain4Water platform and will be hosted by UCLouvain.