UNESCO-IHP was very busy on World Water Day this year. This is a short review of the activities that took place at Official UN World Water Day event in Cape Town, South Africa…
UNESCO-IHP at the UN Official Event on the World Water Day 2011 "Water and Urbanization" in Cape Town, South Africa, 20-22 March
On the occasion of this year's World Water Day dedicated to "Water for Cities", UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) and its Urban Water Management Programme took active participation in the global celebration of the day with activities focused on promoting knowledge and awareness on issues related to water in cities.
The UN Official Event on World Water Day 2011 convened in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa, on 22 March 2011, under the theme "Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge".
Main event on 22 March: The main event on the World Water Day 2011 took place on 22 March, following thematic sessions and side events held during the preceding two days. The participants of the main event included His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, Mrs Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa, and Mr Joan Clos, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT.
UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme actively contributed to the event with a thematic session, book launching and film projection side-events, and hosting a stand at the WWD 2011 Exhibition and Fair. The UNESCO book launching and film screening were one of the highlights of the global main celebration of this year’s World Water Day in Cape Town.
UNESCO thematic session on "Groundwater Management in Urban Areas"
The session was convened by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme on 21 March. It aimed at drawing attention to the 'invisible' dimension of water management in cities and the vital role that groundwater plays in urban areas, which is frequently ignored.
The session presentations focused on challenges in urban groundwater management and highlighted the role of groundwater in the urban water cycle, as an important source of drinking water, and the vulnerability of groundwater resources in urban areas to over-exploitation, pollution and different types of flooding. It also discussed interactions between groundwater and surface water and between groundwater and components of urban water systems. The session included a demonstration of UGROW software, which is a simulation modelling, decision-support tool for urban groundwater management, focusing on groundwater interactions with urban water system elements. The UGROW capabilities were illustrated by presenting two real-world simulation cases.
The panel session, with the participation of Prof Ken Howard, University of Toronto at Scarborough (Canada), Prof Čedo Maksimović, Imperial College of London (United Kingdom), Prof Dubravka Pokrajac, University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom) and J. Alberto Tejada-Guibert, UNESCO, and facilitated by Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, UNESCO, deliberated on the challenges in sustainable groundwater management in an urban context.
Key messages of the session:
- Water management in cities should aim at effective integrated surface and groundwater management, given that groundwater is an integral part of the hydrological and urban water cycles.
- The lack of data is one of the major obstacles to scientifically sound decision-making for sustainable water management and, in particular, for sustainable use of groundwater, which is a non-renewable, limited resource in some cases.
- Decision-support modelling tools such as UGROW can be used to raise knowledge and awareness on urban groundwater management, as the visual output can help to reveal information on the existence of otherwise invisible groundwater levels and to illustrate how urban water mains and sewers recharge or drain the surrounding groundwater. This, in turn, can motivate data gathering and sharing, in addition to providing support for scientifically sound decision-making for sustainable urban water management.
Launch of UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series
From left: Ken Howard, Dubravka Pokrajac, J. Alberto Tejada-Guibert, Čedo Maksimović, Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, Johan Kuylenstierna (courtesy of UN-Water / Nicoletta Forlano)
UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme presented the UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series, with the participation of series editors and book authors. The launching event took place at the main stage of the WWD 2011 Exhibition and Fair and was moderated by Johan Kuylenstierna, SEI Stockholm Centre Director and Deputy Director Operations of Stockholm Environment Institute.
The UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series focuses on integrated approaches to sustainable urban water management and provides valuable scientific and practical information for urban water practitioners, policy-makers and educators throughout the world. The books in the series, a result of collective efforts of experts with different areas of specialization from different continents of the world, cover a wide-range of topics related to urban water management, including environmental, socioeconomic and institutional aspects, and contain technical guidance and interesting case-studies for addressing urban water problems. One of the forthcoming books in the series, entitled "Urban Water Conflicts", focuses on socioeconomic and institutional issues related to water management in cities.
At the launching event, seven books published in the Series to date were presented:
- Urban water cycle processes and interactions
- Data requirements for integrated urban water management
- Aquatic habitats in sustainable urban water management: science, policy and practice
- Urban water security: managing risks
- Integrated urban water management: arid and semi-arid regions
- Integrated urban water management: humid tropics
- Advanced simulation and modeling for urban groundwater management – UGROW
The event included an interview by moderator Johan Kuylenstierna with the Editors-in-Chief of the Series, namely Prof Čedo Maksimović, Imperial College of London (United Kingdom), J. Alberto Tejada-Guibert, UNESCO, and Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, UNESCO. A special presentation of the series' newly-published book "Advanced Simulation and Modeling for Urban Groundwater Management - UGROW" also took place during the event with the participation of the book editors, Dubravka Pokrajac, University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom), and Prof Ken Howard, University of Toronto at Scarborough (Canada).
Interview by moderator Johan Kuylenstierna with Editors-in-Chief of UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series and book Editors.
Screening of UNESCO short film "Water in Cities"
The screening of UNESCO short film "Water in Cities", produced by UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme, took place at the main stage of the WWD 2011 Exhibition and Fair on 20 March.
As water has become an increasingly crucial issue, the film focuses on raising awareness on present and future challenges in urban water management. It illustrates water problems facing cities across the world, which are manifested in different forms and magnitudes in developed and developing countries, and highlights sustainable and innovative approaches to sustainable urban water management that UNESCO is pursuing to help countries address water problems in fast-growing cities.
The film highlights that Integrated Urban Water Management lies at the core of sustainable solutions and strategies for urban water management.
View the short film
Water for Life Award presented during World Water Day
On the occasion of the International Decade for Action "Water for Life", a yearly award has been created by the United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) and the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). This year for the first time it has been awarded. During the award ceremony at Cape Town, Olcay Unver, WWAP Coordinator, described the nature of the award and J. Alberto Tejada-Guibert of UNESCO, as President of the Jury, announced the winners of the award.
The Water for Life awards were given in two categories: Category 1: Best water management practices was awarded to "Las Pinas-Zapote River System Rehabilitation Program" of the Philippines (Metropolitan Manila Area), and the Category 2: Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices was awarded to "A Participatory and Learning Based Approach to Raising Awareness on Water and Sanitation" of South Africa (in Durban, eThekwini Municipality). In parallel in Zaragoza there was a ceremony presided over by the Director of UNW-DPAC to honour the winners. In 2011, special focus was given to the topic "Urban Water Management", the main theme of World Water Day.
UNESCO stand at the World Water Day 2011 Exhibition and Fair
UNESCO hosted a stand in the UN Pavilion at the WWD 2011 Exhibition and Fair in Cape Town.
The stand displayed selected UNESCO-IHP books, technical reports and publications related to urban water, as well as publications on general topics both for display and for free distribution. The UNESCO short film "Water in Cities" was screened continuously at the UNESCO stand.
The highlight and most popular publications were:
- Books in the UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series
- Brochure of the UNESCO-IHP Urban Water Series
- "Water in Cities" DVD/brochure
- UGROW software and manual CD
UNESCO's Water Family consists of the following:
- International Hydrological Programme
- World Water Assessment Programme
- UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
- Water-related Institutes and Centres under the Auspices of UNESCO
- UNESCO Water-related Chairs
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