Help celebrate International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict on November 6th!
UNESCO-IHP and OAS hold 5th International Workshop of the ISARM Americas project
The 5th International Workshop of the ISARM Americas project – jointly coordinated by UNESCO-IHP (Montevideo Regional Office) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) – was held from 17-20 September 2007 in Montreal, Canada. The workshop brought together national coordinators of the 20 countries participating in the project as well as international experts from UNESCO, INBO and IGRAC (International Groundwater Resources Assessment Center). Ambassador Chuseï Yamada, Special Rapporteur of the UN’s International Law Commission (ILC) on the topic of shared natural resources also participated in the workshop.
Cooperation between neighboring countries in the Americas led to the identification of 69 transboundary aquifers. These results are published in an atlas presented at the workshop in Montreal. The event also provided an opportunity to listen to several international presentations, such as Mr. Jean François Donzier’s on INBO and the EU Water Framework Directive and Amb. Yamada’s on the draft articles on the law of transboundary aquifers.
The results of the project’s second phase which began in 2006 were also discussed at the workshop. This phase focused on the legal and institutional aspects of transboundary aquifers. Data and information were collected through a questionnaire prepared by a group of legal experts, which was then circulated amongst the national coordinators. The analysis of these results will be published in a second volume which will accompany the atlas. Finally, the participants shared their national situations with regards to the third phase, which is concerned with the socio-economic and environmental aspects of the transboundary aquifers.
More information on the ISARM Americas project or contact Ms. Raya Marina Stephan at email@example.com
UNESCO organizes “Coastal Aquifers Management and Ecosystems in the Mediterranean: Coping with Climate Change” side event
On 20 September 2007, UNESCO organized a side event on “Coastal Aquifers Management and Ecosystems in the Mediterranean: Coping with Climate Change” in the framework of the XXXV Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) “Groundwater and Ecosystems”, held in Lisbon on 17-21 September 2007.
The event focused on the management of coastal aquifers and wetlands in the Mediterranean, starting from the experience of two projects which are funded by Italy’s Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS): The Water Programme for Environmental Sustainability (WPA II) and GEF-UNEP’s Mediterranean Action Programme. UNESCO is working with five countries in the Mediterranean basin through the implementation of these two projects.
During the side event, presenters from six countries illustrated different approaches to coastal zone management in the Mediterranean region. The side event also included a roundtable on "Coastal Aquifers management, wetlands and ecosystems: What are the beneficial effects from the Groundwater Framework Directive for the South Mediterranean countries?". Mrs. Sylvie Detoc from the European Commission illustrated the newly adopted EU Framework Groundwater Directive during the roundtable.
More information on the “Congress and Ecosystems” Congress
Israel National IHP Committee and partners release the Spanish version of “The Blue Planet – The Water Cycle in the Earth’s Eco-Systems”
On 9 September 2007 at the Sede Boqer Campus of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, the Israel National IHP Committee with its partners the Weizmann Institute of Science and UNESCO-IHP, launched the Spanish version of “The Blue Planet – The Water Cycle in the Earth’s Eco-Systems”, a learning tool for junior-high school level students. Ambassadors from Spain and several Latin American and Caribbean nations, representatives from UNESCO-IHP and the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education as well as scientists from various universities were all present at the launch.
The goal of the Blue Planet series is to encourage students to develop a systems-thinking approach when considering the environment. This type of approach – used in Israel since 2000 with positive results – has improved students’ reasoning abilities by helping them identify relationships between the planet’s systems.
The ceremony will be followed by the 1st Latin American Blue Planet International Workshop in Mar del Plata, Argentina, which will take place on 5-9 November 2007, and will be organized by ICEFE (Fundación Instituto de Capacitación y Estudios de FeNTOS), Environment and Water Sciences – UNESCO-Montevideo and CAZALAC (Water Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean).
Final call for abstracts for Groundwater and Climate in Africa Conference
The conference on Groundwater and Climate in Africa, which will take place from 24-28 June 2008 in Kampala, Uganda, is now announcing its final call for abstracts. The final deadline is 15 November 2007. The conference, co-organized by the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda, the University College of London, UNESCO-IHP and the IAEA-UNESCO JIIHP Project, has a number of objectives including the enhancement and development of networks of water and climate scientists, the preparation of the establishment of a regional network of African experts on Groundwater and Climate Change in Africa and engaging with policy makers so that knowledge through research can be translated into practical strategies on the ground.
The conference will focus on five session topics: (1) Impact of climate variability and change on groundwater-based livelihoods, (2) impact of climate variability and change on groundwater and groundwater-fed ecosystems, (3) monitoring and modelling groundwater use and replenishment, (4) estimation of groundwater resources and demand under a changing climate and (5) groundwater management.
Behind the Scenes: Curating “Planet Earth: From Space to Place”
The sound of hammering and drilling filled UNESCO’s Ségur Hall in the days preceding the General Conference. Now that the exhibition “Planet Earth: From Space to Place” is launched, it is hard to imagine that it was still only an idea last April. The ambitious project went from paper plans to ephemeral city in record time thanks to a vibrant team, dynamic partners and high-level support, explains curator Anne Candau of the Natural Sciences Sector, who modestly describes her role as “just sitting there and co-ordinating”.
A steering committee representing all UNESCO sectors contributed both funding and content. UNESCO’s film archives were plundered. Member States also contributed content, much of it electronic. An outside team (set designer, film editor and graphic artist) provided expertise in design and other areas. In all, some 50 people were involved in tasks from proofreading to building the website.
Major partners were associated with the event, notably ESA, NASA, the secretariats of the International Year of Planet Earth (2008) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, not to mention Paris City Hall, which supplied the luxuriant vegetation.
The most suspenseful moments were waiting for the Director-General to approve extra funds - “his support was decisive”, says Candau - and the entirely unfounded fear that switching from 110- to 220-volt plugs might make NASA’s “Magic Planet” explode, or at least short-circuit the building (Reprinted).
UNESCO Water Family
International Conference on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): Lessons from Implementation in Developing Countries and the 2nd Africa Regional Meeting of the IHP National Committees [PDF format]
10-12 March 2008: Cape Town, South Africa
On the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the implementation of the South African Water Law, the Water Research Commission of South Africa, in partnership with the UNESCO-IHP focal point, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Water Institute of Southern Africa are organizing a three-day conference aimed at sharing the experiences and lessons of developing countries on IWRM. The conference is not exclusive to developing countries but is an opportunity for dialogue between developing countries and the developed world, as well as donor societies on IWRM implementation that can shape new concepts or adapt existing ones.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
IAHR International Groundwater Symposium "Flow and Transport in Heterogeneous Subsurface Formations: Theory, Modelling and Applications"
16-18 June 2008: Istanbul, Turkey
The purpose of the Symposium is to bring together researchers focused on fundamental laboratory-scale experimentation and mathematical modelling of flow and transport in natural subsurface systems with hydrogeologists, geologists and engineers working on field applications and groundwater management problems. The Symposium will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and expertise among various research and applied groups, for better understanding of the complex, coupled and scale-dependent processes governing flow and transport in porous and fractured media. The interactions among the multi-disciplinary participants of the Symposium will also serve to recognize the limitations of existing analysis approaches and help identify future research avenues.
IAH 2008 Toyoma: Integrating Groundwater Science and Human Well-Being
26-31 October 2008: Toyama, Japan
The XXXVI Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) in Toyama, Japan will be hosted by the Japanese IAH Chapter. The Congress will address issues of human well-being which depend upon the study and understanding of groundwater science. Human security, eco-security, environmental security or food security, especially under climate change, are becoming major concerns in the world. Groundwater development and management are some of the key factors to ensure a sustainable society and preserve human well-being. The XXXVI IAH Congress will promote scientific understanding of groundwater and other related subjects through discussion and knowledge exchange. UNESCO-IHP will co-convene two sessions: one on "Groundwater and Natural/Man Induced Disasters" and another on "Groundwater under Climate Change/Climate Change Impacts on Groundwater Resources".
International Conference on Water Scarcity, Global Changes and Groundwater Management Responses [PDF format]
1-6 December 2008: Irvine, California
This Conference, convened by UNESCO and the University of California Irvine, seeks to bring together leading water management and climate change experts, scientists and engineers, policymakers, lawyers and economists, as well as executives of water services of local and regional authorities. The Conference will present innovative and appropriate technologies to address water scarcity and global change effects on water availability and quality, explore the specific scientific and technical tools for groundwater studies and management, and discuss how to incorporate such technologies into short-term decision-making and long-term water management and policy-making.
Featured International Events
Third European Water Association (EWA) Brussels Conference: European Water Management and Climate Change [PDF format]
5 November 2007: Brussels, Belgium
International Conference on Water and Urban Development Paradigms: Towards an integration of engineering, design and management approaches
15-19 November 2007: Leuven, Belgium
ESETA Third Annual Conference and Exhibition [PDF format]
27-28 November 2007: Sandton, South Africa
Getting to know UNESCO's Water Family
An interview with... Richard Meganck, Director of UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
What do you enjoy most about working at UNESCO-IHE?
The diversity of the students and staff and the commitment to the principles of the Institute in education, research and capacity building. In our 50-year history, we have awarded more than 13,500 Masters Diplomas to students from 162 countries. This must be some sort of record for a small Institute like ours. The staff contingent is also more diversified today than before they were inducted into UNESCO. This mix of cultures – all oriented to the same general thematic priority – provide a pallet for what UNESCO-IHE is today. The fact that we are all committed to the concept of water being fundamental to the goals of sustainable development allows us to explore aspects of water-related disciplines that most institutions do not have the time to undertake.
Why is water education important?
Money alone is NOT the key to sustainable development. The fact is that without a sufficient number of trained professionals to manage and maintain a water treatment or distribution facility for example, the long term viability of such an investment is at risk. The general public has already figured this out – the demand for post-graduate education in the water sector is overwhelming. Each year we receive in excess of 1500 applications from qualified candidates for the 200 student slots that we can offer. Finally, it must be noted that water science, management and engineering are vital to realizing each one of the MDGs. One statistic will prove this statement: If women could be relieved of the need to collect firewood and water, some 40 million productive work days annually could be added to the sustainable development equation.
Can you give a little information about the demography of UNESCO-IHE?
UNESCO-IHE is the only unit in the United Nations that is authorized to confer accredited post-graduate degrees. We are 100% extrabudgetary, receiving no Regular Fund contribution. We have approximately 175 staff, 90 academic and the balance, administrative. Our host Government provides a subsidy approaching 33% of our economic turnover and access through competitive processes that provides us with an additional 40%. We find the balance through competing for projects and generating fellowships through and with a variety of partner organizations. UNESCO-IHE offers degrees in 14 different water-related specializations, each year awarding some 200 M.Sc. and 15 Ph.D. degrees. And 98% of our graduates return to their home countries. Nearly half of our students come from Africa, about 30% from Asia and the balance from Latin America and OECD countries. The research output of this Institute is somewhat staggering: nearly 200 M.Sc. theses and 15 Ph.D. dissertations each year, plus some 150 referred journal articles. We are doing more with partner organizations in trying to meet the tremendous demand for post-graduate study opportunities in the water sector.
Since your tenure as Director of UNESCO-IHE, what are some of the most significant changes that have taken place there?
Being part of the UN and UNESCO has opened many doors for us to collaborate on a global playing field. We were designated the educational arm of the IHP and we have formed a strategic alliance with WWAP. We have also added eight new Full Professors to the staff, completed a strategic plan, successfully completed a formal accreditation process guaranteeing the value of our degrees, and provided the Member States with an opportunity to collaborate with a world-class training institution.
Did you know...? Facts and Figures about Water and Armed Conflict
- At the time of the publishing of the 2nd World Water Development Report (WWDR2), it was estimated that there were over 17 million refugees and displaced persons from wars, persecutions and other causes. These people have tremendous impacts on the water resources in the area to which they have been displaced.
- The Post Conflict Assessment Unit of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has shown that conflicts are almost always followed by environmental crises: chemicals leaching into waterways, damage to irrigation systems, deforestation, the destruction of infrastructure and collapses of local and national governance structures.
- Rebuilding economies, damaged lives, shattered infrastructure including water and power systems, rebuilding and restoring damaged irrigation systems, removing landmines in post-conflict situations, take up 27% of all Overseas Development Assistance (ODA).
- The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD Convention) seeks to prohibit acts such as weather modification and harmful flood creation.
- In 2001, it was estimated that some 12 million refugees and 5 million ‘internally displaced persons’ were forced to settle in resource-scarce areas, putting further pressure on people, water and the environment.
- Recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq have led to the destruction of economically vital water infrastructures, and many people are deprived of safe drinking water and basic sanitation as well as sufficient water for productive uses.
The section “Did You Know…?” is taken from the 2nd United Nations World Water Development Report: “Water, a shared responsibility". The specific citations of the material above may be found through this link.
UNESCO’s Water Family consists of the following:
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