In a context of global change, environmental and human-induced pressures on continental fresh water have been exacerbated and have become a major challenge for our societies in the 21st century. Water is vital for regulating the climate, for ecosystem functioning and for human development, but is as rare as it is precious. While 72% of our planet is covered in water, only 3% of all the water available on Earth are fresh waters.

OneWater - Eau Bien Commun is a national research programme launched in March 2022 and is designed to build knowledge in the field of fresh waters, to change the current management paradigm and to have water recognized as a common good.

The ten-year programme is co-directed by the CNRS, the BRGM and INRAE. It will help speed up the transitions and measure the impacts of global changes on socio-ecosystems in mainland France and in the French overseas territories.

OneWater is one of the 17 exploratory Priority Research Programmes and Infrastructures (PEPR exploratoire) under the fourth Investment for the Future plan (PIA4) launched by the French government in January 2021. The goal of such research programmes is to build or consolidate French leadership in scientific fields that are seen as a priority at national or European level and are linked to a large-scale transformation of France.

Headed jointly by Agathe Euzen for the CNRS, Dominique Darmendrail for the BRGM, and Thibault Datry for INRAE, OneWater will work on six major scientific challenges, mobilizing a multi- and interdisciplinary academic and non-academic community specialized in freshwater related issues and challenges.

To address these challenges, the programme’s 13 academic partners contribute to 8 ‘targeted’ projects. These projects provide the fundamental knowledge base and shared tools we need to make headway on the scientific challenges identified by the OneWater – Eau Bien Commun. The OneWater challenges are also addressed through a series of calls for projects open to the entire French scientific community to allow a holistic, transdisciplinary approach.

The programme encompasses education-through-research initiatives, scientific conferences and workshops, as well as European and international cooperation initiatives, which help to bring together a multi-stakeholder ‘water community’.

To put forward a national strategy adapted to the needs of both living organisms and water users, and to strengthen the dialogue between science and society, the programme also benefits from an International Scientific Committee and a dedicated Think Tank. The relevant State entities, the local authorities, the water sector, users, NGOs, researchers and an array of other parties are represented. Via this interface, OneWater aspires to federate and support all stakeholders through the transitions needed to address the environmental and societal challenges.