Regional vernetzt : Das Zentrum für Wasser- und Umweltforschung
In den letzten 15 Jahren hat sich die Wasserforschung an der Universität Duisburg-Essen (UDE) zu einem wichtigen und erfolgreichen Schwerpunkt weiterentwickelt. Gebündelt wird diese durch das Zentrum für Wasser- und Umweltforschung (ZWU), und zwar nicht nur innerhalb der UDE, sondern auch innerhalb des Ruhrgebiets. Die klassische Grundlagenforschung spielt dabei eine genauso wichtige Rolle wie anwendungsorientierte Fragestellungen, die in Verbundprojekten gemeinsam mit Praxispartnern aus der Region bearbeitet werden.
The ZWU was founded in 2003 with the aim of advancing modern environmental research, which links global social changes and challenges such as population growth, urbanisation and megacities, climate change, water availability and sustainable energy supply with environmental concerns and integrates their effects on human life. This kind of research is primarily interdisciplinary and ranges from natural and engineering sciences to medical and social sciences and economics. The main focus of the ZWU activities is on water research, with a broad spectrum of expertise in the fields of water ecology, drinking water treatment and supply (contamination, evaluation, and purification), environmental toxicology and chemistry, urban water management, hydrology, hydraulic engineering, and water governance, including competencies in water economy and law. The “core” of the ZWU at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) currently comprises 22 research groups from the Faculties of Biology, Chemistry, Engineering and Medicine, with approximately 150 researchers. Besides bringing together water research at the University of Duisburg- Essen, the ZWU managed to integrate the water expertise of the two partner universities of the University Alliance Ruhr. This cross-university cooperation has proven its value in a series of running and completed joint research activities, and many joint publications. Examples include the ZWU-coordinated PhD training program “Fortschrittskolleg FUTURE WATER” (funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia) and the collaborative research project “Sustainable Cultural Landscape in the Metropolitan Ruhr Region” (funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research). The ZWU is supported in its work by an entire network of strong regional partners. Among these are the IWW Water Centre and the Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology e.V. (IUTA), research institutes associated with UDE which function as a bridge to industrial partners in the field of water supply and water treatment. Together with the Rhine Ruhr Institute for Social Research and Political Consultancy (RISP), they significantly contribute to the high density of water-related know-how in the region. The ZWU, however, is not only the hub of a regional network of water-related research facilities, it also integrates commercial (many SMEs from consulting agencies to water technology companies, water suppliers, and water boards) and municipal representatives as well as state authorities (North Rhine-Westphalia) into common research initiatives and integrates these partners into teaching and research.