Professor Iwao Kobori, United Nations University (UNU) Senior Programme Advisor, one of Japan's leading academics for drylands, an eminent pioneer and tremendously respected personality in water history research, passed away on 26 November 2010 at the age of 86. Former Professor at the Universities of Michigan State, USA and Meiji, Japan, Iwao Kobori was an unfaltering supporter of UNESCO-IHP and, in particular, of its endeavours in water history that he helped to establish as part of the programme of actions. He was also a founding member of the International Water History Association (IWHA). Among the large-scale initiatives Professor Kobori brought to life was the Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (SUMAMAD) Project, in collaboration with the UNESCO MAB-Programme.
Professor Kobori drew global attention to the potential for sustainable groundwater use through elaborate traditional water management techniques like qanats. His profound understanding of water-society interactions in arid and semi-arid regions resulted form a combination of his superb academic scholarship and a passion for languages, encountering and understanding people during his many trips to the field. Professor Kobori never ceased to travel nor to share his knowledge and insights through international cooperation. His last mission, in October 2010, led him to the International Centre for Historic Hydraulic Structures under the auspices of UNESCO in Yazd, Iran, where he took part in the meeting of the Board of Governors. The Algerian television devoted a documentary to his yearly travel to the arid south of the country, titled "Le japonais d'In Belbel". He passed away shortly before another mission that was scheduled to take him to Egypt.
Many international scholars and experts in the field of water and dryland consider him as an intellectual and spiritual father figure.
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