Making water management everyone’s business

22 mars 2001 - The First Science Days open today in Casablanca (Morocco) on the theme of the social management of water and the roles universities and other partners can play.

Experts and academics from around the country and abroad will be participating in these First Science Days. They are joined by representatives of international bodies, the private and public sectors and registered charities. Over the next two days, participants will be exchanging their experiences of engineering a social approach to water management, comparing water and resource centres, and discussing ways of spreading and sharing knowledge.

Organized by the UNESCO Interdisciplinary Chair for Sustainable Management of Water at the Hassania School of Public Works, the meeting is placed under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Scientific Research and the Ministry of Territorial Planning, Habitat, Town Planning and Environment. It inaugurates a cycle of scientific events.

The federating theme of the Chair is the development of tools for ‘social engineering’. The Chair’s principal goals are to promote research in the social and human sciences and a synergy between research, action and concertation within an interdisciplinary approach to water management.

The Chair promotes interaction between modern scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge. It strives to teach people about the place they occupy in the ecological chain in a manner which reflects society’s values, rhythms, needs and priorities.

Transversal exchanges and training are fostered to break down the barriers between the university, public and private water managers, water technicians and charities. This approach should make it possible to define a code of conduct in a climate of consensus, in order to resolve conflicts and promote ‘an ethics of action.’

The interdisciplinary approach to environmental research was plebiscited in Budapest. ‘Interdisciplinary research involving both the natural and the social sciences must be vigorously enhanced by all major actors concerned, including the private sector,’ the Science Agenda recommends (para. 31) ‘ to address the human dimension of global environmental change, including health impacts, and to improve understanding of sustainability as conditioned by natural systems.’

Paragraph 32 goes on to recommend that ‘Modern scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge ... be brought closer together in interdisciplinary projects dealing with the links between culture, environment and development in ... the management of natural resources ...’ and that ‘local communities and other relevant players ... be involved in these projects.’

It is hardly a coincidence if the meeting falls on the same day as World Water Day. One of the objectives of the Science Days is to raise public awareness of society’s stake in water management.

In parallel, a Training–Awareness building session on the theme of ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ is being organized by the Maghreb Machrek Alliance for Water (ALMAE), in collaboration with Al Ahdat Al Maghribia, the Moroccan Association for Information and Environment for Development (AMIED), Nissaa Al Mabhrib and Women of Morocco. The session is being supported by the United States Embassy in Morocco, by the Ministry of Territorial Planning, Habitat, Town Planning and Environment and by UNESCO.

The participants in both meetings are invited this evening to the opening of an exhibition on the theme of ‘Artists and Water’ in the presence of Moroccan painters. The exhibition is being housed in the Villa des Arts within the Musée de la Fondation ONA. At tonight’s opening, a group of children will unveil ‘their common canvas’ to mark World Water Day. The canvas will be their way of asking their elders exactly what kind of world they plan to leave them.

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