WATER: What is being done for water security in Latin America and the Caribbean?

The XIV Meeting of National Committees and Focal Points of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (CONAPHIs) convened its Presidents, with the participation of members of UNESCO's water family in the region, to assess progress towards water security in the region and plan activities for the future.

Water security means that people can access water in sufficient quantity and quality for their needs, taking into account the effective protection of life, ecosystems and material assets. It is directly related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the human right of access to water and sanitation. Great achievements have been made in the region to achieve water security. However, at the same time great challenges are faced in the context of pandemics, climate change, urbanization, forest fires, volcanoes and hurricanes, which require major efforts.

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) supports countries in their efforts to achieve water security through improved water management, research, education and capacity building. Based at UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean,

IHP-LAC carries out regional and local actions, interacting closely with UNESCO's member countries and associate members. IHP-LAC works on topics that cover the entire water resources management in the region: floods and droughts; glaciers, ice and snow; groundwater; water scarcity and quality; water and human settlements; ecohydrology; scientific research and innovation; science-based water governance; among others. In addition, several initiatives developed by IHP-LAC, in collaboration with WHO/PAHO and other partners, on water and COVID-19 took place during this period. During the XIV Meeting of National Committees and Focal Points of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme of UNESCO for Latin America and the Caribbean (IHP-LAC) experts and decision makers from the region shared their progress in these areas of work, through joint work with UNESCO.

Between 2018 and 2021, more than 11,500 people have participated in scientific seminars and technical courses, publications have been produced, 60 articles have been published in the scientific journal AquaLAC, a new UNESCO Category 2 Center and four new chairs dedicated to water issues have been inaugurated.

The impact of the work of IHP-LAC centers, chairs and working groups, together with institutions and organizations that share the mission of protecting water, can be seen in territories, ecosystems and societies. For example through the story of Tatiana Wieczorko Barán from Ouro Preto, Brazil, who took the course "Soap making from waste oils", an opportunity to improve the quality of water courses and ensure human health.

To face the upcoming challenges to achieve water security, resolutions for the next biennium were adopted during the Meeting, reflecting the priority themes for water development, research and education.