UK IHP Committee push through improvements in programme evaluation at the Intergovernmental Council in Paris

The UK Committee for the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) participated in the 22nd Session IHP Intergovernmental Council Meeting in June.

The Council is the main governing body for the IHP and has responsibility for the planning, definition of priorities and supervision of the execution of the Programme. UK-IHP Committee Secretary, Dr Harry Dixon, said:

“This year’s Council Session provided an opportunity for the UK and other Member States to continue pushing improvements in the IHP. During the session, the UK tabled  a resolution on the Monitoring and Review of IHP Programme and Major Initiatives. This resolution was debated and agreed meaning that a full evaluation of all of IHP’s major sub-programmes will now take place over the next two years to better understand the impact these initiatives have and allow the Council to adopt more of a Result Based Management approach in the future”.

The Committee includes expert water scientists, practitioners and policy makers from across the UK. The UK Delegation included Prof. Alan Jenkins and Dr Harry Dixon from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, Sarah Hendry from the Category 2 Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee and Prof. Bob Ferrier from the James Hutton Institute.

Central to the meeting were deliberations around the wide range of activities which are currently being undertaken around the world to implement the eighth phase of the IHP that runs from 2014 to 2021. The phase divides activities into six themes covering Water-Related Disasters, Groundwater, Water Quality, Human Settlements, Ecohydrology and Water Education. Key to the programme is a series of projects and networks that bring scientists and stakeholders together on a particular issue.

Examples of the recent initiatives developed and supported by UNESCO include an International Multidisciplinary Network for Adaptation Strategies related to the Impact of Glacial Retreat in the Andes; a Global Network on Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI) and; an initiative on the Status and Future of the World Large Rivers. These and a wide range of other networks are open for UK-based hydrologists for contributors.

This year’s Council session also saw the launch of a new strategy for the International Flood Initiative and an update on developments under the International Initiative on Water Quality. In a welcome move, in recent years there have been significant improvements in the communication of the IHP’s outputs.

The UK delegation highlighted how the IHP needs to consider the benefits and challenges of further expansion of the Category 2 Centre network, drawing upon the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Policy Briefs on the subject.

Looking forward, the Council discussed the role of the IHP in relation to the water related elements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Agreed by the UN in September 2015, the new seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a specific aim to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Debate focused on how the IHP can contribute to implementation and monitoring of the water goal over coming years and it is clear that the central importance of hydrology in this and many other SDGs shows that now, more than ever, countries around the world need the mutual support and cooperation offered by the UNESCO IHP.

For the last 50 years, the International Hydrological Programme has brought countries together to tackle the scientific and policy issues presented by the changing hydrological cycle and growing water demand. A recent UNESCO report, Water People and Cooperation provides an overview of the Programme’s main achievement to date.