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Our Vision: Thriving ByWater
Cities, coastlines and river basins around the globe that flex and extend with nature – rather than resisting it – to grow and share sustained prosperity for everyone.

Our Mission
The ByWater Institute conducts scholarship that helps bring about a future of Thriving ByWater by diagnosing problems and producing, testing and communicating solutions at scale – all in collaboration with action-oriented stakeholders. 

We use our city, its coastline and the Mississippi River Basin as a testbed for developing adaptation and intervention strategies to the challenge through an approach we call “clinical trials for planetary health."

The Three Pillars of Thriving ByWater
Thriving ByWater rests on research created under a set of design principles, co-created with the communities that research is designed to benefit, and leveraged to grow from the Mississippi River Delta and coastal Louisiana to the entire Mississippi River Basin and onto river basins and delta cities across the globe.

1. Designing Our Future ByWater: We help people achieve better water futures through adaptive designs of neighborhoods, landscapes and technologies that include nature as a tool for achieving those futures. 

  • We collaboratively design “engineered nature” as tool and infrastructure.
  • We integrate and operate natural assets in coordination with existing built infrastructure – from neighborhood to watershed.
  • We partner to invent nature-based technologies that connect waste, wastewater, shipping and commerce to create hydrogen as clean fuel.

2. Sharing Our Future ByWater: We help share the benefits of a Future ByWater through participatory research that embraces inclusion and equity.

  • Our scholarship seeks to improve access to safe living spaces, drinking water and sanitation, especially in rural communities.
  • We conduct participatory research that leads to solutions that are co-produced and co-owned by inclusive stakeholder groups.
  • We partner to speed translation of our scholarship into projects that allow us to test solution design and quickly scale the successes our experiments find.

3. Growing Our Future ByWater: We help sustain the growth of healthy river and coastal ecosystems and their embedded economies and communities. 

  • We improve the science connecting climate change and individual quality of life through collaboration across medicine and climate science.
  • We communicate health-climate change interactions as a way to motivate communities to embrace climate action.


Clinical Trials for Planetary Health
Our city, its coastline and the Mississippi River Basin are a testbed for developing adaptation and intervention strategies to the challenges of the entire basin — through an approach we call clinical trials for planetary health.

  • The climate and water problems that we are facing today are the cholera and malaria of the 21st century – sea-level rise, dead zones, coastal land loss and equitable access to environmentally safe spaces.
  • Conventional science moves too slowly and at too small a scale to address these problems adequately.
  • What are clinical trials in an environmental setting? Coordinated experimental interventions with nature conducted at appropriate scales and with appropriate controls. As compared with conventional science, these trials will lead us much more quickly to solutions that can scale across a whole basin.    
  • The geographic location of Tulane is perfect for building a center of research excellence on water-related scholarship and translating this scholarship into positive change.
  • We are on the receiving end of all activities—bad and good—upriver. 
  • Our coastal location and elevation mean that we are literally on the front lines of climate change and sea level rise.
  • Tulane was founded as a public medical college to address pressing health challenges in the 19th century.
  • ByWater will establish Tulane as a local, national and international leader for how scholarship can address these new climate and water-related challenges. 


Read ByWater Institute Director John Sabo’s piece in Forbes, “Fast Clinical Trials for Planetary Health,” for more on how the clinical trial approach could accelerate planetary health.