Water is everywhere in our economy, in nature and culture. Billions of years ago our planet had cooled down enough for the surrounding gas clouds to condense, fall down to Earth’s surface, and form the oceans. Everything started with water and water is still a precondition to all life. No wonder that World Economic Forum in 2016 listed water as the largest risk factor for sustained well-being on the planet. Our blue gold is increasingly under pressure as water demand increases rapidly in the advancing global economy. Water is needed for food production, for energy uses, for industry, ecosystems and human consumption and much more, creating a complex web where issues are intimately linked. We must find ways of managing the finite resources in new ways, across political borders and regions, across sectors and knowledge disciplines. If water knows no boundary, so must we.
The WaterCentre@KTH started in 2017 with an initial investment from the KTH President’s office of 10 million SEK. Water as a subject area has been taught at KTH since 1858 and much has happened since then. At KTH water-related research is now dispersed throughout the university’s organisation as academic specialisation and sheer growth of staff has prompted new departments and schools to be formed. Today, water research is carried out at least in seven out of ten schools at KTH. While specialisation is needed for scientific excellence, it can lead to ‘silo thinking’, fragmentation of knowledge and loss of synergies. As academic professionals, we must also ensure a good contact with actors outside the university world to ensure our work continues to be of high societal value. The purpose of the Water Centre is here to bridge disciplines within KTH and to connect our researchers with those who can use the knowledge we produce. We believe that this is how true innovation happens.