Water, People and Cooperation: 50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development at UNESCO

UNESCO marks 50 years of water science with its new publication

To mark its 50th anniversary, the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme has published a new book, Water, People and Cooperation: 50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development at UNESCO.

Dr. Harry Dixon, Secretary of the UK Committee for the IHP commented that: “The IHP is the only scientific intergovernmental programme in hydrology and water resources within the UN system. Over the last 50 years UK scientists have played leading roles in the development of the Programme and its supporting initiatives such as FRIEND, HELP, G-WADI and the ISI”.

In recent years, there has been an increased recognition of the challenges that water issues pose to global development,” continues Dr. Dixon, “with water crises recently topping the World Economic Forum’s list of top long-term risks. Looking to the future, the need for the international community to work together through the IHP to build knowledge and find solutions to these issues has never been greater. The UK’s world-leading capabilities in water research and education have an important role to play in achieving these aims”.

The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) was born in 1975 out of the International Hydrological Decade that had been launched in 1965 by UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The UK has always played an active role in the IHP. The National Committee for the IHP (based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxford), the UNESCO Category 2 Centre for Water, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee and a number of UK-based universities have all helped to provide global leadership, research and teaching contributing to the Programme.

Professor John Rodda, Honorary Fellow at CEH and long-term contributor to the IHP, explains in the new publication that: “For many UK hydrologists, both past and present, the IHP represents a route for making their water expertise available globally to the benefit of humankind. At a time when water shortages are affecting an increasing number of nations, floods are taking a rising toll on life and climate change is altering hydrological regimes globally, participation in the coming phases of the IHP is a priority for them and the UK National Committee [for the IHP]”.

The launch of the report, which came during the COP21 climate change conference in Paris last December, included a panel discussion with Ms Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, and Ms Blanca Jiménez Cisneros, Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) from UNESCO, as well as key contributors to UNESCO’s water programmes over the past 50 years. UNESCO also celebrated the 50 years of water by showing 50 films about water, some of which can be seen here.

In summarising the IHP’s past achievements, current activities and visions for the future, the book Water, People and Cooperation: 50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development inspires and paves the way for the next 50 years of water science.