SLU news

SLU focuses on the value of water

Published: 22 March 2021
Portrait photo of Jens Olsson

Today, March 22, is the World Water Day, which this year has an extra focus on how we value water and its provision of ecosystem services. At SLU, we pay a little extra attention to water issues and their role for the global sustainability goals this week. Keep an extra eye on our news feed and social media.

A recently published report on how climate change affects the ecosystem services provided by water is a good example of how SLU works with valuing water. But there are many more examples at SLU where over 400 people work with different water issues, from source to sea.

SLU Water Forum acts as an umbrella for water-related issues at SLU and the forum is coordinated by Jens Olsson. Further below, Jens makes some reflections on what water means to him and how SLU works with water, for example within the framework of Agenda 2030.

Find current news on water issues

Explore the SLU Water Forum news flow for more information. Given the focus of World Water Day 2021 we would like to highlight the following reports (in Swedish):

Find current examples of water issues

Follow SLU on Facebook and follow SLU Water Forum on Twitter (mostly in Swedish).

Three questions to Jens Olsson, coordinator of the SLU Water Forum

What does water mean to you?

- Water means a lot to me. The most obvious thing is that without access to clean water, I would not be able to live the life I do today. I have constant access to high quality water directly from the tap. Also in my free time the quality of water is essential as I like being out in nature fishing and boating. Water of high quality with a variety of plants and animals is absolutely crucial for my experiences and well-being. I may not always think about it, but the benefits and pleasures, so-called ecosystem services water offers me and my fellow human beings, are incredibly important for how I can live my life. Without water, no life.

How are our waters doing and what do we need to do to achieve sustainable water use?

- Currently, humans put a high pressure on our water resources and the biological diversity in the water, notably for example impacts from climate change. Although the reporting in media often gives the impression that all our waters are in poor condition, this is not true. There are hopes for the future and many good examples of how sustainable use can ensure the long-term provision of vital ecosystem services from water. But this requires action in time and also that we as humans see and accept our own role in the ongoing development. For example, we need to continue to develop our knowledge on the state of the aquatic environment and decide and agree on what measures we should take to improve the status. Today, there is a great lack of knowledge in many areas related to water. In addition, water issues are transboundary and interdisciplinary, and therefore we need a more comprehensive understanding of our ecosystems with knowledge of how things are connected and how processes interact and how different environments are interconnected. We must work together, between subject areas, authorities and different parts of the society.

What does SLU do on water?

- As a university with a focus on sustainability we provide knowledge and advice to support the global sustainability goals within Agenda 2030. Water hence permeates a large part of SLU's work. Our operation covers the entire "waterscape" from the headwaters, along the waterways through forests and agricultural landscapes, via lakes and cities to coastal areas and the open sea. SLU takes on the water challenges with an interdisciplinary approach that includes research, education, environmental monitoring and assessment, and collaboration with the society.


SLU – a water university

Water is essential to life. At SLU more than 400 researchers and experts work with water-related issues, from source to sea. Our knowledge contributes to achieving the global sustainable development goals focusing on water quality, life in water and the human use of water resources. Learn more at


Jens Olsson, Researcher
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, SLU, +46 10 478 41 44