2005-2015 is the International Decade For Action 'Water for Life'
|HRH Prince of Orange|
© H. de Lijser
HRH Prince of Orange closes UNESCO-IHE 50th anniversary celebration ceremony
His Royal Highness The Prince of Orange, Chairman of the UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, closed the Celebration Ceremony of UNESCO-IHE’s 50th anniversary. Prince Willem Alexander, an alumnus of the class of 1998, highlighted the need to have well-educated professionals to change the world’s water future. “It cannot be denied that this need has grown in the past fifty years, and will continue to grow. After all, the field is becoming increasingly complex, because the various interests at stake – water, food production, energy and ecosystems – impact much more directly on each other”, said His Royal Highness.
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© A. Otte
IHP co-sponsors 5th Conference of the International Water History Association
The 5th Conference of the International Water History Association (IWHA) was held from 13-17 June 2007 in Tampere, Finland. It was co-organized and hosted by the University of Tampere and the Technical University of Tampere. The conference was co-sponsored by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) within the framework of its project "The History of Water and Civilization": a comprehensive, benchmark reference series on the history of humanity's multifaceted interaction with water.
As one of Finland's most important centres for research and industrial development, the city of Tampere has depended historically on the water of its rivers and lakes for economic and leisure activities, and focuses considerable research efforts on sustainable water use. The setting, benefiting from the seasonal midnight sun, provided the background for a scientific conference with more than 40 sessions and three roundtable panels. Four keynote lectures covered the topics of "privatization of water", "water and citizenship", "water and Finnish development cooperation", and "adaptation to climate change".
Over 250 registered participants from more than 50 countries represented a wide range of disciplines, including history, geography, anthropology, archaeology, civil engineering and political science. The presentations ranged from detailed studies of local river development to discussions of historical hydraulic technologies and global approaches to social participation in water management. For the first time at an IWHA conference, a roundtable panel was organized to discuss "Water History in Israel-Palestine in the 20th Century".
In his opening address, Professor Fekri Hassan, the IWHA President, highlighted the close cooperation between the Association and IHP, particularly through the project of writing The History of Water and Civilization (HWC).
IHP organized an editorial meeting of the HWC book series in Tampere on 18 June. The series' Editorial Board, composed of outstanding scholars from various disciplines representing all world regions, established the project's editorial organization.
The next IWHA conference will be merged with the 2009 World Congress of Environmental History, organized by the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations (ICEHO) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
CATHALAC announces Latin American and Caribbean Water Prizes – PLACA 2007
July 31 is the nomination deadline for the 2007 PLACA Water Prizes. The objective of the Prizes is to recognize and share innovative solutions to some of the most demanding issues related to water management and conservation in the region. Likewise, it seeks to honor outstanding local, national and regional efforts and best practices that serve as examples to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, most of which are water-related.
More information on PLACA 2007 guidelines and nomination form
UNESCO Water Family
RedAlfa-TECSPAR International Sustainable Water Management Workshop
2-4 July 2007: Barcelona and Terrassa, Spain
The principal objective of the international workshop is to present and explore the new trends in sewage water treatment and utilization and innovative technologies for water quality control, based on the premise of sustainable water management.
3rd International Conference on Water and Climate
3-6 September 2007: Helsinki, Finland
This conference is being organized by the Finnish Environment Institute, the Helsinki University of Technology, and the Academy of Finland. UNESCO, WMO and IAHS are contributing to the event through the Scientific Committee. The conference is targeting the hydrological science community, coordinators of water resources programmes, and decision makers.
The main themes of the conference are the following:
- Climate change and hydrological extremes
- Climate change and water resources; risk and risk management
- Adaptation to the impacts of climate change in the water sector
- Climate change mitigation and hydrology
- Hydrological science, poverty and capacity building.
International Symposium on “New Directions in Urban Water Management” (PDF format)
12-14 September 2007: Paris, France
The objectives of this symposium are:
- Bringing together leading international urban water management experts to discuss new concepts, approaches and technologies for dealing with urban water problems under various settings, covering both developed and developing countries.
- Exchange of ideas for new directions in urban water management, as well as drawing recommendations for the formulation of new strategies and implementation elements such as guidelines and educational tools.
- Presentation and delivery of the results and outputs of the IHP-VI Urban Water Management Programme (UWMP) and gathering feedback from the participants regarding their applicability, gaps and possible extensions. These elements will also feed into the design of the next phase of IHP-VII (2008-2013).
Du droit de l’eau au droit à l’eau au Maroc et ailleurs (“From Water Law to the Human Right to Water in Morocco and Elsewhere”). Houria Tazi Sadeq. UNESCO/Eddif/UNU/UNU-EHS, 2006 (French Only)
This publication, the first of its kind in Morocco, deals with water law from the perspective of sustainable development. The book offers a useful case study for the exchange of similar experiences in other countries. It could also promote the emergence of a new field of studies related to changes in water governance and propose innovative solutions to new challenges arising in the field of water resources management.
For a copy of this book, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting to know UNESCO's Water Family
An interview with... Alistair Rieu-Clarke, Lecturer, UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee, Scotland
When did you first know that you wanted to study international water law and what was your reason for wanting to do so?
I undertook my undergraduate studies in law at the Universities of Dundee and Utrecht. The subjects I enjoyed most during my undergraduate years related to the environment and international law, so I decided to pursue a Masters in Natural Resources Law and Policy. As part of my LLM, I took a number of excellent water law courses delivered by Professor Patricia Wouters. I found international water law to be really fascinating as it combined a number of my interests, e.g., development studies, environmental protection, and international law. The magnitude of the world's water crisis and the fundamental need to strengthen legal frameworks for transboundary waters in so many countries around the world also made the study of international water law - and its application - very enticing.
So, with the work you do now at UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, how are you able to mix your interests with your job?
As a lecturer at the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science I'm able to deepen my knowledge and understanding of international law and water resource issues both in terms of theory and application. For example, I am currently involved in two EU funded research projects (BRAHMATWINN and STRIVER), which involve over 25 interdisciplinary partners (universities, international organizations, government ministries, etc.) covering 6 river basins in 11 countries throughout Europe and Southeast Asia. Key aspects of the projects include IWRM, climate change, transboundary cooperation and governance. In both projects, I act as principal investigator for our Centre, where we take the lead on analyzing the role of law in the wider context of IWRM. I am also currently working with WWF-International and GWP-West Africa to look at the applicability of the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention both to European and West African States. In addition, I teach a postgraduate Masters course on the International Law of Water Resources, and supervise several Masters and Ph.D. students specializing in legal aspects related to transboundary waters. The teaching and supervision allows me to share knowledge and ideas, and keep abreast of developments in international law and water resource issues. All things considered, I therefore couldn't imagine a better job for pursuing my interests.
The focus of this newsletter issue is water and international law. You mention the UN Watercourses Convention in your previous response. Why is this Convention important?
In my opinion, the UN Watercourses Convention is important because of its content and the way in which it was developed. The Convention represents the closest thing to a global consensus on the rights and obligations of States over their shared watercourses, having been initiated by the UN General Assembly in the 1950s, developed by the International Law Commission from the 70s to the 90s, and adopted by States following two years of intense negotiation in 1997. The voting record shows that most States supported the Convention with only 3 States voting against. In terms of content the Convention provides the foundation for promoting IWRM at the international (transboundary) level through its basin approach, primary rule of equitable and reasonable utilization, supplementary provisions on no significant harm and ecosystem protection, and well developed procedural rules. It is therefore disappointing that - despite recent calls from groups such as the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation and WWF-International - there are only 16 Contracting States to date.
How is your institution working with UNESCO to promote international water law?
There are various ways in which we work with UNESCO to promote international water law. For instance, we provide legal input into the IHP HELP (Hydrology, Environment, Life and Policy) Programme and act as regional coordinating unit for Europe. Also, Sergei Vinogradov, Fadia Daibes and Patricia Wouters have provided expert legal advice relating to UNESCO’s work on the ILC’s draft articles on transboundary aquifers, and Andrew Allan, will attend the forthcoming IHP 2nd Expert Meeting on "New Directions in IWRM implementation in Basins, Sub-basins and Aquifers" in Paris. However, perhaps the most exciting activity we are presently involved in is a collaborative initiative between UNESCO PCCP, UNESCO IHE Delft, and ourselves to develop an interdisciplinary Masters Course in Water Governance. The latter initiative fits strongly in line with our Centre’s core mission to build a new generation of local water leaders.
Activities related to Water and International Law
The Dundee UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, has its home in the Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy programme (HELP) and was officially created as a HELP Centre. HELP is a cross-cutting Programme of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP). It interacts with all five core themes of IHP by establishing a global network of basins to improve the links between hydrology and the needs of society. Established in 1999, HELP aims to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to stakeholders through research towards the sustainable and appropriate use of water. This is accomplished by deploying hydrological science in support of improved integrated catchment management. This includes improving the complex relationships between hydrological processes, water resources management, ecology, socio-economics and policy-making. The Dundee UNESCO Centre acts as the Regional Coordinating Unit for the 20+ European HELP basins.
UNESCO’s Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PCCP) employs principles of international law as part of its interdisciplinary approach to foster peace, co-operation and development related to the management of shared water resources. Of particular importance to PCCP is the way disputes are resolved within the existing legal regimes governing the international waters under consideration or how these regimes may be either lacking or insufficient. PCCP case studies examine the international agreements that govern the use of the shared waters with the specific goal to asses whether or not the agreement is being adhered to by all parties or if it can be modified to promote cooperation. PCCP courses explain how to use the transparent range of rules, instruments and mechanisms of international law that are capable of transforming conflicts into cooperation. Such courses also examine how to enforce decisions and agreements under international law, examine how to use international law to facilitate seeking and securing a mutually acceptable solution, and review negotiations in the context of international water-related agreements.
The worldwide ISARM (Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management) Initiative is an UNESCO led multi-agency effort aimed at improving the understanding of scientific, socio-economic, legal, institutional and environmental issues related to the management of transboundary aquifers.
International law applicable to transboundary groundwater, one of the five focus areas of ISARM, is still in its first stage of development. There already exist international rules that apply to transboundary aquifers, but they do not cover all types of aquifers, (mainly aquifers unconnected to surface water), and do not consider the specific characteristics of aquifers. However in the coming years this situation might change.
In 2002, the UN International Law Commission (UNILC) , which is the UN body in charge of the progressive development of international law and its codification, has included the topic of "shared natural resources" in its work programme. Under the topic, it has chosen to cover transboundary groundwater, and then oil and gas. Since then, in the framework of the ISARM Program and its focus area on the legal issues, close cooperation with the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) Secretariat and the Special Rapporteur of the UNILC on the topic has been established. The IHP is committed to provide the Special Rapporteur with scientific, technical and legal support on the issue of transboundary groundwater.
Did you know...? Facts and Figures about Water and International Law
- The history of international water treaties dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the two Sumerian city-states of Lagash and Umma crafted an agreement ending a water dispute along the Tigris River.
- There are more than 3600 international water treaties dating from 805 AD to 1984 AD.
- The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses was adopted May 21, 1997 after 27 years of development. The Global Convention sets out the basis rights and obligations between States relating to the management of international watercourses.
- While the ten-year anniversary of the Watercourses Convention passed in May 2007, only 16 nations have ratified the Convention. For the Convention to enter into force, 35 are needed.
- The primary substantive rule of international law is that States must utilize their international watercourses in an equitable and reasonable way.
- In the 20th century, only seven minor skirmishes took place between nations over shared water resources while over 145 treaties were signed during the same period of time.
The section “Did You Know…?” is taken primarily from the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD) at Oregon State University.
UNESCO’s Water Family consists of the following:
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