The 2022 Henry Darcy Medal is awarded to Wouter Buytaert for contributions to improving water security in poorly gauged and challenging regions, through the development of innovative analysis methods and approaches for data collection and citizen science.
Wouter Buytaert has advanced the development of water resources management development, especially in poorly-gauregions, proposing innovative approaches for data collection, nature-based solutions, and citizen science. His research is exceptionally interdisciplinary, crossing over into several areas of natural and social sciences, collaborating with academics and experts in human geography, public policy, political ecology and development studies, among others.
He has worked extensively in logistically-challenging and developing regions (notably the Andes and the Himalayas) where data and observations are lacking; in these contexts, he has shaped the agendas for use of low-cost robust environmental sensors and citizen science for water resources. He has advanced the theoretical scientific basis of using citizen science in a sustainable development context, working on participatory monitoring, knowledge creation in social-ecological systems and water governance. His research made tremendous contributions to interdisciplinary research on the active participation of non-scientists in the hydrological knowledge creation process. This work has had major implications for strengthening the science – policy interface, both in terms of theoretical advances (e.g., on how to apply citizen science in a context of sustainable development) and of practical applications (e.g., co-design of decision support systems, and application of low-cost technologies for hydrological monitoring). His scientific contributions are complemented by pioneering work on the actual implementation of participatory monitoring of water resources, building a unique network that has addressed the hydrological data gap of the Andes, but it is also a globally relevant example of inclusive knowledge co-creation, using bottom-up approaches.
Wouter Buytaert is a truly outstanding hydrologist, who proposed original, integrative, interdisciplinary and out-of-the-box scientific approaches to real-world water management problems combining natural science and social science knowledge, based on his thorough understanding of region-specific human water systems worldwide.