Germany has already experienced heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall as a result of climate change. These phenomena will probably intensify in the future. As a result, water shortages are to be expected – at least locally and seasonally – in Germany, which traditionally has been a country with abundant water resources. This may exacerbate current competing demands of industry, water management/private households, agriculture and ecosystems, or create new conflicts over the use, distribution and protection of surface and groundwater resources.
Water conflicts in Germany so far have hardly been the subject of social science research. In particular, there are still no systematic analyses and no prospective studies, i.e., studies that anticipate possible futures, that focus not only on the effects of climate change but also on actor decisions, their interplay and possible conflicts between actor strategies. A report by the German working group on water issues of the Federal States and the Federal Government (LAWA 2022) already points to conflicting goals and possible synergies in adapting water management to climate change, but comprehensive combinations of measures (policy mixes) have not yet been examined.
There is also a lack of offers for professional users from science, administration and practice to systematically explore scenarios as well as options for action and their consequences and to support the development of coherent strategies. Although there are already a number of simulation games or serious games in the field of water, they do not yet focus on the complexity, i.e., the complex interactions between environmental factors and actors’ strategies in water conflicts. This is where our research project comes in.