Pulilan River, Philippines.  Photo: Jaime Sumugat Singlador
Pulilan River, Philippines: The local government has embarked upon a campaign to clean-up the river. Photo: Jaime Sumugat Singlador

Freshwater is vital for survival – and yet one-in-nine people globally don’t have access to clean drinking water and one-in-three lacks improved sanitation.

There is an increasing need for cutting-edge science and innovation in the water arena to address the global demands for sustainably produced water, a safe water supply and healthy waterways. 

Through the GCI Sustainable Water Program, the university is committed to addressing the complexities of the global water challenge to improve access and ensure appropriate management of this vital resource.

The Global Change Institute (GCI) is playing an important role in achieving this goal, coordinating the university’s strengths in innovation and education by building strategic water research partnerships and facilitating adoption of this research into planning and policy. Increasingly, GCI is highlighting the key links between water, food, energy and our coasts.

The emerging Sustainable Water Program of work integrates four themes of water for productive economies, water for cities, water for the environment, and resilient water communities. This will be achieved through outputs that provide innovative decision-making support tools, whole-of-system understanding, market-based solutions, and innovative monitoring.

Discussion Papers

Discussion paper No. 4

Water, sanitation and hygiene in remote Indigenous Australian communities: a scan of priorities (July 2017)

In remote Australian Indigenous communities, the ‘familiar story’ of poor water, sanitation and hygiene-related health challenges continues – despite documentation of this situation during the past thirty years. The representatives interviewed in this scan strongly recommended to stop perpetuating this story: ‘This is not new stuff.  You know, you can look back and do some research for decades and what I'm telling you today is what was being said 20 years ago, so it's not like any of this is new’ (NGO representative #1). In parallel, they also called for providers to raise their expectations for the standard of these services in all Australian locations – including remote communities: ‘Non-indigenous people who go out to communities quickly lower their expectations to what’s the prevailing norm …  You’re in Australia now, so the benchmark is an urban [clinic] in Darwin or Sydney, not a clinic at the back of Jakarta’ (research representative #2).

Please cite this report as: Hall, N., Barbosa, M.C., Currie, D., Dean, A.J., Head, B., Hill, P.S., Naylor, S., Reid, S., Selvey, L. and Willis, J. (2017), Water, sanitation and hygiene in remote Indigenous Australian communities: A scan of priorities’, Global Change Institute discussion paper: Water for equity and wellbeing series, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Discussion Paper No. 3
Strengthening community participation in meeting UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 for water, sanitation and hygiene

Countries have much work to do to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. But development projects don’t always go the way you expect. A resettlement project in Laos recently provided taps and toilets as a way to improve hygiene and health outcomes for communities. But on revisiting the resettled village, the project team was dismayed to find that the new brick toilet facilities were instead being used to store rice.  Global Change Institute discussion paper: Water for equity and wellbeing.

Discussion Paper No. 2
Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals for water and beyond' (Sep 2016)

This University of Queensland discussion paper from the Water for Equity and Wellbeing Initiative was developed to consider Australia’s efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Australia, and within the broader Asia-Pacific region. Global Change Institute discussion paper: Water for equity and wellbeing.


discussion paperDiscussion Paper No.1
The UN Sustainable Development Goals for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: How Should Australia Respond Within and Beyond its Borders’ (July 2016).

Australia is positioned next to south-east Asia, where one billion people lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. Only half the population in the Pacific Island countries have access to such facilities, while poor hygiene and unsanitary living conditions have contributed to children in remote Australian Aboriginal communities experiencing a higher rate of common infectious diseases than in large urban communities. Global Change Institute discussion paper: Water for equity and wellbeing.


Objectives and research themes

Contact the GCI Sustainable Water Director, Associate Professor Eva Abal or Manager, Dr Nina Hall

The Global Change Institute collaborates with researchers across The University of Queensland to meet the challenges of change.

Sustainable Water

GCI's sustainable water research involves input from many UQ schools, institutes or centres including:

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