UNESCO Water e-Newsletter No. 206: Water and Salinization/Desalination
1 September 2008
UNESCO and Red-Ethique organise international symposium on the water-energy nexus
The International Symposium on resolving the Water-Energy Nexus is held within the framework of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) in collaboration with UNESCO’s Renewable Energy Programme and is organized by the non-profit association RED-Ethique. The meeting is also a preparatory event to the 5th World Water Forum, which will take place in Istanbul in March 2009.
The Symposium will be held at UNESCO in Paris, France. Over 400 participants are expected, coming from all parts of the world and from different stakeholder groups, including: political and administrative leaders in international organizations, central and decentralized institutions, and non-governmental organizations; decision-makers of companies producing or exploiting energy, water, and sanitation services; representatives of water, energy, agricultural, urban, industrial and tourism sectors; managers of public and private companies in charge of technical policies regarding water and energy.
First announcement (PDF format - 144KB)
Pre-registration (PDF format - 136KB)
PCCP to direct workshop at the 10th Mediterranean Research Meeting
In the context of the 10th Mediterranean Research Meeting, which will take place 25-28 March 2009 in Florence and Montecatini Terme, Italy, UNESCO’s PCCP programme will direct the workshop “Law of Water Management in the Mediterranean – Past, Present, Future” in conjunction with the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. Abstracts submission date extended until 10 September 2008.
This workshop will address the legal aspects of freshwater management in the region of the Mediterranean. The focus will be on customary water law, contemporary national water law systems and bilateral and multilateral international law instruments applicable to the Mediterranean. The influence of the European Community acquis, as well as the roles and activities of UNECE, UN-ESCWA and other authoritative international organizations also shall be on the agenda of the participants.
The workshop will provide an in-depth insight into the complex and varied legal regimes that govern water management in the Mediterranean. It will assess the potential of such legal regimes to address actual challenges, such as the growing demand for water, increasing pressures on water quality and unexpected water-related occurrences (e.g. large-scale floods or droughts) caused by climate changes and human activities. The workshop will finally look in the potential of these legal regimes to peacefully resolve disputes and be resilient to evolving water law development trends.
10th Mediterranean Research Meeting participant information (PDF format - 53KB)
10th Mediterranean Research Meeting call for papers (PDF format - 81KB)
"Law of Water Management in the Mediterranean – Past, Present, Future" description (PDF format - 61KB)
UNESCO-IHP, UNESCO-IHE and International Water History Association offer course on World History of Water Management
A 5-day short course on the "World History of Water Management" will be offered in September 2008, drawing both on historical experiences from different parts of the world and on experts from the International Water History Association (IWHA). Many of these are involved in the UNESCO “History of Water and Civilization” project, and in the framework of cooperation among IWHA, UNESCO-IHP, and UNESCO-IHE.
The course aims to
- provide a comprehensive overview of archaeological and historical developments in water management including water harvesting, water supply, transportation, delivery, treatment, hydraulic engineering and allocation (with contributions including the physical sciences, technology, ecology, engineering, organisation, politics, law, anthropology, and governance) in different parts of the world and within various cultural contexts;
- develop an appreciation of the role of cultural factors that affect the management of water resources, especially at times of perceived water scarcity, and
- comprehend the historical antecedents of our current paradigm of water management and what can be learned from historical case studies on the basis of the knowledge and experience of several scholars from different countries and from the exchange of experiences to be generated between course participants and experts.
The course also constitutes a contribution to the UNESCO-led United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).
Course brochure and application form
UNESCO Director-General attends Water Science Forum
From 26 to 28 June 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, visited Washington DC to attend a Water Science Forum at the US State Department on "Cutting- Edge Technology for Water Services: Application in Africa".
Addressing the Forum were: Doctor Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs; Doctor Sharon Hays, Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, representing the Executive Office of the President; Doctor Arden Bement Jr., Director of the National Science Foundation; and Ambassador Louise Oliver, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to UNESCO. The meeting brought together US experts and agencies with representatives from several African countries.
UNESCO Water Family (*)
PCCP High-level Training on the Resolution of Water Disputes
21-23 October 2008: UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
Application Deadline: September 10
The 3rd Yangtze Forum: Sub-forum on Climate Change and City Water Safety
20-21 April 2009: Shanghai, China
2nd International Conference Biohydrology 2009: A changing climate for biology and soil hydrology interactions
21-24 September 2009: Bratislava, Slovakia
Featured International Events
International IAHS-PUB Symposium and the 2nd International China-PUB Symposium: Hydrological Modelling and Integrated Water Resources Management in Ungauged Mountainous Watershed
7-9 November 2008: Chengdu, China
WMHE 2009: Eleventh International Symposium on Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering
1-5 September 2009: Ohrid, Macedonia
Getting to know UNESCO's Water Family
An interview with... László G. Hayde, Senior Lecturer in Irrigation Engineering, Department of Water Engineering, UNESCO-IHE
|László G. Hayde
You are going to teach a short-course on World History of Water Management at UNESCO-IHE in September. Could you tell us a little about the course?
Our last year’s first attempt was quite successful, so the 5-day short course will be offered for the second time in September 2008, within the framework of co-operation among the International Water History Association (IWHA), UNESCO-IHP, the Working Group on History of ICID and UNESCO-IHE.
With this course we are aiming at:
- providing a comprehensive overview of archaeological and historical developments in water management, including water harvesting, water supply, transportation, delivery, treatment, hydraulic engineering and allocation (with contributions including the physical sciences, technology, ecology, engineering, organisation, politics, law and governance) in different parts of the world and various cultural contexts;
- developing an appreciation of the role of cultural dynamics involved in managing water resources, especially at times of perceived water scarcity; and
- comprehending the historical antecedents of our current paradigm of water management and what can be learned from historical case studies on the basis of the knowledge and experience of several scholars from different countries and from the exchange of experiences to be generated between the participants of the course and the experts.
Why is looking at the history of water management important?
Let me start the answer with the motto of our short course, an old Chinese proverb:
‘One who doesn’t know the history is unable to plan the future’
Although many developments may appear novel, they are often grounded in historical antecedents, have historical parallels and are cast within scientific, social, cultural and intellectual traditions of various historical depths.
You are a senior lecturer in irrigation engineering. How did history of water management become an interest of yours?
The origin of this interest might be somehow in my genes or blood. My mother graduated as an artist and she has been teaching, besides freehand drawing, history of arts, and history of architecture. I am also a grateful "student" of her. She taught me to appreciate the origin of things, their evolution and development, and also their beauty.
More than a decade ago, since I strongly believe the truth of our motto, I have established the subject ‘History of Hydraulic Engineering’ at my former institution, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Besides teaching new technical solutions and different techniques, I have always been interested in the historical background of their origin and tried to pass this interest over to my students.
Do you see organizations taking this type of history into account? How could this help, say, a river basin organization?
This is quite an interesting question e.g. in Europe nowadays, when the river basin development plans have to be developed according to the EU Water Framework Directive. I believe the river basin authorities or organizations have to take into account the lessons we can learn from the historical approach, from case studies or, if you like, the mistakes done in the past. I have to mention here that 'mistakes', in most cases, can be realised only later, in an already different scientific, social, cultural and intellectual atmosphere. The recent flood management techniques of large rivers like e.g. the Rhine could not and cannot be developed without looking into the historical background.
There are other river basins of the World where no development could be done without looking into the cultural or religious traditions related.
Did you know...? Facts and figures about water and salinization/desalination
- It is estimated that some 30% of the world's irrigated areas suffers from salinity problems and remediation is seen to be very costly.
- Poor drainage and irrigation practices have led to water-logging and salinization of about 10% of the world's irrigated lands, thereby reducing productivity.
- There are significant areas of the globe where serious soil and groundwater salinization are present or have developed as a result of:
- rising groundwater tables, associated with the introduction of inefficient irrigation with imported surface water in areas of inadequate natural drainage
- natural salinity having been mobilized from the landscape, consequent upon vegetation clearing for farming development with increased rates of groundwater recharge
- excessive disturbance of natural groundwater salinity through uncontrolled well construction and pumping.
- Water-logging and salinization in large-scale irrigation projects are often the result of unavailable drainage infrastructure, which was not included in the engineering design in order to make projects look economically more attractive. These problems are generally associated with large-scale irrigation development under arid and semi-arid conditions, as in the Indus (Pakistan), the Tigris-Euphrates (Middle East) and the Nile (eastern Africa) river basins. The solutions to these problems are known, but their implementation is costly.
- With population growth and concerns about water scarcity increasing, several countries, especially in the Middle East region, are developing desalination plants to convert saline water (e.g. sea-water, brackish water or treated wastewater) into freshwater.
- The global market for desalination currently stands at about US $35 billion annually and could double over the next 15 years.
- In 2002 there were about 12,500 desalination plants around the world in 120 countries. They produce some 14 million m²/day of freshwater, which is less than 1% of total world consumption.
- The most important users of desalinated water are in the Middle East, (mainly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain), which uses about 70% of worldwide capacity; and in North Africa (mainly Libya and Algeria), which uses about 6% of worldwide capacity.
- Among industrialized countries, the United States is one of the most important users of desalinated water (6.5%), especially in California and parts of Florida.
The section “Did You Know…?” is taken from the 1st United Nations World Water Development Report: “Water for People, Water for Life" (WWDR1, 2003)
UNESCO’s Water Family consists of the following:
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