17.12.2012 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

UNESCO launch of the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 in Brazil

Belo Horizonte, 18 December 2012

On 18 December 2012, Ms Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, the Director of the Division of Water Sciences of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme, launches the Brazilian Campaign for the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation 2013. The Organization is the leading UN agency responsible for the coordination of the Year.

Why an International Year of Water Cooperation 2013?

Water is vital for life and development but water resources on the planet are limited. In all settings, dealing with water requires collaboration: it is only through water cooperation that we will succeed in the future to manage our finite and fragile water resources, which are under increasing pressure from the activities of a growing world population of over seven billion people. Pressure on water resources is escalating from the use by agriculture and industry, from pollution and urbanization, and from environmental and climate change. Water cooperation takes many forms ranging from cooperation across boundaries to manage shared underground aquifers and river basins, to scientific data exchange, to cooperation in a rural village to build a well or provide drinking water through urban networks. One thing is sure — humanity will not thrive without cooperating around water management.

Developing water cooperation involves an approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors and disciplines and needs to cover many dimensions: religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic. It is a vehicle for exchange, building peace and a foundation for sustainable development.

In December 2010 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, by virtue of the Resolution A/RES/65/154. It followed the proposal submitted by a group of countries, initiated by Tajikistan. It was decided that the 2013 World Water Day, celebrated on 22 March, will also focus on the theme of Water Cooperation. This is a first, highlighting the subject’s primordial importance and lending this 20th World Water Day particular importance. It’s official celebration will be hosted by the Government of The Netherlands in The Hague.

UNESCO lead coordinator of the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013

The member agencies of the UN-Water group appointed UNESCO to lead preparations for both the 2013 International Year and the World Water Day in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and with the support of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).

The choice of UNESCO was based on its multi-dimensional mandate, covering the natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication and its significant and long-standing programmes contributing to the management of the world’s freshwater resources, such as the International Hydrological Programme. Given the intrinsic nature of water as a transversal and universal element, the International Year on Water Cooperation naturally will embrace and touch upon all the domains of UNESCO’s expertise.

Objectives and Key Messages of the International Year of Water Cooperation

The International Year of Water Cooperation encourages stakeholders at international, regional, national and local levels to take action on Water Cooperation. The Campaign will create a momentum that goes beyond the Year itself. Campaign efforts around the world will raise awareness on the potential and challenges for water cooperation, facilitate dialogue among actors and promote innovative solutions for nurturing water cooperation.

The Water Cooperation 2013 Campaign will focus on five strategic objectives:
1.    Raise awareness on importance, benefits and challenges of cooperation on water-related issues.
2.    Enhance knowledge and build capacity for water cooperation.
3.    Spark concrete and innovative action towards water cooperation.
4.    Foster partnerships, dialogue and cooperation around water as top priorities, also beyond 2013.
5.    Strengthen international water-related cooperation to pave the way for developing Sustainable Development Goals supported by the entire water community and addressing the needs of all societies.

The Campaign’s four key messages are:
Water cooperation is key to poverty eradication, social equity and gender equality
Access to clean water is the foundation for the fulfillment of basic human needs and contributes to the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals. Inclusive and participatory governance of water and cooperation between different user groups can help to overcome inequity in access to water and thus contribute to poverty eradication and improve the living conditions and educational chances, especially of women and children.
Water cooperation creates economic benefits
All economic activities depend on water. Cooperation can lead to a more efficient and sustainable use of water resources, e.g. through joint management plans creating mutual benefits and better living standards.
Water cooperation is crucial to preserve water resources and protect the environment
Water cooperation helps the sharing of knowledge about the scientific aspects of water including data and information exchange, management strategies and best practices and knowledge about the role of water in preserving ecosystems, fundamental to sustainable development.
Water cooperation builds peace
Access to water can be a source of a conflict, but it is also a catalyst for cooperation and peace building. Cooperation on such a practical and vital issue as water management can help overcome cultural, political and social tensions, and can build trust between different groups; communities, regions or states.

Contact for the Water Cooperation 2013 Campaign:

Ms Blanca Jiménez Cisneros
Division of Water Sciences
1, rue Miollis
75732 Paris cedex 15
E-mail: iywc2013@unesco.org



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