Where Do We Stand Now? A Bibliometric Analysis of Water Research in Support of the Sustainable Development Goal 6

In Water
Peer-reviewed Article
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The connections between the scientific findings and SDG-6 are often not clear, which results in increasing the gap between technical developments and academic discourse, and the policy practitioners and/or implementers. The present paper explores the existing scientific research on water that directly connects to SDG 6 using the bibliometric analysis. The 637 scientific articles published between 2015–2021 (till 13 May 2021) were investigated for temporal development, scientific collaboration, existing research focus, and gaps. Interdisciplinary journals such as Science of the Total Environment and Journal of Environmental Management are found to be dominant sources along with water-specific journals such as Water Research and Water (Switzerland). Open access journals make a dominant footprint and the majority of author collaborations are found among authors from countries such as USA and UK while the research connections among authors from Global South are observed to be weak. Targets 6.1 (safe and affordable water), 6.3 (treatment and reuse of wastewater), and 6.5 (IWRM including through transboundary cooperation) are identified to be the highest referred to targets in scientific research in support of SDG 6. Though a significant evolution of scientific research is observed in connection to SDG 6 with increasing studies on groundwater, water governance, wastewater treatment, etc., in recent years, scientific studies connecting emerging concepts such as water security, water-energy-food nexus, and ecosystem-based approaches are still in an infant stage which calls for more research connecting these concepts and approaches to SDG 6 targets to attain a sustainable water environment by 2030 and beyond. This paper significantly contributes to tracking the progress in scientific research in connection to SDG 6 as well as highlights the hotspots where more collaboration between scientific communities and policymakers is required.