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Sustainable use of the freshwater resources of the world is an urgent challenge. The World Health Organization recently estimated that 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, a problem the United Nations highlights in its Millennium Development Goals. To address the scale and urgency of this challenge, IBM, The Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are collaborating to develop innovative, technology-based decision-support tools for improved management of water resources worldwide. The Water for Tomorrow modeling framework and decision support system (DSS) is designed to help policy makers and a variety of stakeholders to assess, come to consensus, and act on land-use decisions that balance human use, ecosystem preservation, and ecosystem restoration. Such stakeholders include farmers, fish and wildlife managers, food-processing plant managers, and hydropower operators. Initially focused on the Paraguay-Paraná Basin of Brazil, in partnership with local academic and public-sector collaborators, the DSS integrates data and models from a wide variety of environmental sectors, including water balance, water quality, carbon balance, crop production, and proxies for biodiversity. Intuitive interfaces and complex query support allow users to reach a rich understanding of the effect of changes in management on freshwater ecosystems.
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