Delft, the Netherlands, 18 Dec 2014

UNESCO-IHE introduces Erasmus+ programme on Groundwater

Together with its partners TU Dresden and University of Lisbon, UNESCO-IHE introduces the Erasmus+ Joint Master Programme in Groundwater and Global Change - Impacts and Adaptation (GroundwatCH). The two-year programme will start for the first time in September 2015. Students will kick off their studies in Lisbon, Portugal and then go to Delft, the Netherlands and Dresden, Germany. Graduates will receive MSc degrees from the three partnering institutes.

The programme offers a distinctive curriculum built on the cornerstones of hydrogeology, hydrology and climatology. With this curriculum GroundwatCH aims to address the current gaps in higher education with regard to the understanding of the interactions between groundwater, surface water, climate and global change, and how we need to consider and can benefit from these interactions when dealing with adaptation.

Groundwater is the largest liquid freshwater reservoir on earth. As such it plays a crucial role in the existence and future development of humanity, but also in the preservation of groundwater dependent ecosystems, rivers, wetlands, flora and fauna. Groundwater has both a huge environmental and economic value, and the latter will continue to increase as the large and still growing direct (consumptive) and indirect (crop) water demands of the global population need to be satisfied.


Several factors foster the need for a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary educational groundwater programme.

First, groundwater is a component of the water cycle interacting with all other components at various temporal and spatial scales. Second, groundwater systems are largely interdependent with socio-economic development. Third, climate change is foreseen to affect freshwater availability globally, with several hotspots, among which many areas that currently already suffer periods of severe droughts and freshwater scarcity, such as the Mediterranean area of southern Europe and Northern Africa, northeast China, northern and south-western Latin America, large parts of Australia and the western United States, among others. Fourth, important feedback mechanisms exist between groundwater (and its use), climate and global change, which vary in time and space.


GroundwatCH's curriculum is based around the following academic areas:

  • General Hydrogeology
  • Groundwater Data Collection
  • Interpretation and Modelling
  • Climate Processes and Modelling
  • Integrated River Basin and Water Resource Management
  • Groundwater and Environmental Impacts
  • Groundwater, Society and Policies
  • Groundwater, Climate and Global Change Impacts and Adaptation


Innovation and excellence of the GroundwatCH programme is stimulated by the combination of vast educational and research experience of three full partner Higher Education Institutions with high national and international recognition, each with a distinct profile providing added value to the course, namely through:

  • the environmental engineering perspective provided by Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) Lisbon (part of the University of Lisbon), as well as the know-how of the CVRM Groundwater Research Centre, hosted at IST, in semi-arid hydrogeology (currently a centre of excellence in RALCEA - the Latin American Network of Knowledge Centres in the Water Sector);
  • the vast international experience of UNESCO-IHE in hydro(geo)logical research, education and capacity building in many countries across the globe;
  • the renowned expertise in the field of climate and hydrology from Technische Universitat (TU) Dresden, with its well matched combination of engineering, geo and natural sciences at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences.

The programme will provide outstanding opportunities to deepen cooperation between these three partners, as well as with associated partners, currently including water authorities and companies from the three countries, and universities from China, Colombia, Tanzania, Uganda and Morocco.


Between 10 and 15 full scholarships are available for attending the GroundwatCH programme. Students applying with other or own funding will benefit from a largely reduced tuition fee.

More information at


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