U.S. Contributions to the International Hydrological Program (IHP) of U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
On November 9, 2015, U.S. Mission to U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Deputy Chief of Mission Chris Hegadorn spoke on a panel of regional representatives at the Celebration of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s Water Programs and the fortieth anniversary of the International Hydrological Program (IHP).
Deputy Chief of Mission Chris Hegadorn highlighted just a few of the United States’ numerous programs – including hosting the Secretariat of a global network, running a category 2 center, bringing experts together for knowledge sharing, carrying out UNESCO’s capacity building mission, and providing expert contributions – that support IHP. The United States envisions a world where UNESCO member states collaboratively find solutions to their high-priority water challenges using best practices drawn from the successful applications of integrated water resources management and the inclusion of science into policy decisions, including free and open access to water data. The United States looks forward to continuing its support of UNESCO-IHP’s programs.
The United States carries out numerous activities and promotes collaboration through the category 2 UNESCO center, the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM)
In October 2009, the International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM; http://iciwarm.sites.usa.gov/) was formalized as a UNESCO category 2 water center and is hosted in Alexandria, Virginia. Established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources in collaboration with U.S. institutions, universities, and organizations, the center brings together those with an interest in the advancement of science and the practice of integrated water resources management around the globe. Being a UNESCO category 2 center greatly facilitates ICIWaRM’s ability to engage the UNESCO water family, serving as a focal point for increasing U.S. scientific engagement in the International Hydrological Program (IHP).
ICIWaRM envisions a world where UNESCO member states collaboratively find solutions to their high-priority water challenges using best practices drawn from successful applications of integrated water resources management.
The United States hosts the Technical Secretariat for the Water and Development Information for Arid Lands, a Global Network (G-WADI)
Through ICIWaRM, the United States serves as the Technical Secretariat for the Global Network on Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI; http://www.gwadi.org). G-WADI was established in 2004 by the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Council of the IHP. The strategic objective of the G-WADI Network is to strengthen the global capacity to manage the water resources of arid and semi-arid areas. In addition to hosting the Network’s Secretariat, the United States through G-WADI also supports global satellite-based rainfall estimates, as well as drought monitors for Africa and Latin America.
The United States, with IHP programs, brings together social and natural scientists, engineers, managers and decision-makers to exchange information to improve water management.
In May to June 2015, the U.S. Mission to UNESCO sponsored a study tour to the United States for ten municipal water resource management specialists from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia to help facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity-building among water resource managers in UNESCO partner countries. The group visited Washington, DC; Chicago; and Los Angeles to examine issues related to federal, state, and local coordination on water resource management; trans boundary and municipal water management in Chicago and the Great Lakes region; and the challenges of arid region municipal water management in Southern California. Through programs like this, the United States seeks both to share its own experience and learn from other countries in an effort to developing best practices in water resource management.
In 2010, the U.S. National Committee for IHP and ICIWaRM co-sponsored a workshop for thirty social and natural scientists, engineers, managers and decision-makers representing six North American and one Central American basins at Portland State University in Oregon to share experiences and lessons learned in the watershed. These basins are a part of UNESCO’s Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) program, which emphasizes integrated basin management through frameworks for water law and policy experts, water resource managers, and water and environmental scientists to work with stakeholders and decision-makers to solve watershed-scale challenges. A monograph from the workshop is available at http://water.usgs.gov/nrp/IHP/us_unesco_2010_help_workshop_monograph.pdf.
The United States supports the capacity building aspect of IHP’s mission by carrying out trainings
In 2013 and 2014, hydrologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center, on behalf of ICIWaRM, conducted two five-day training courses and workshops at the National Institute of Water Resources (INDRHI) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The primary objective of these training efforts was to build capacity within the Government of Dominican Republic for integrated water resources management and planning, specifically its capability to do reservoir system studies using computer simulations to analyze reservoir system performance. The courses were co-organized and co-sponsored by INDRHI and its UNESCO-affiliated Centre for the Sustainable Management of Water Resources in the Caribbean Island States (CEHICA), with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Individual U.S. water experts provide their expert contributions to IHP
U.S. water experts from U.S. federal agencies and universities contribute their time and expertise towards coordinating international efforts and preparing project reports for IHP programs. One example is the Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Changes (GRAPHIC) program, which serves the global community through providing scientifically based and policy-relevant recommendations, using regional and global networks to improve the capacity to manage groundwater resource. Seven out of the 17 experts who authored the GRAPHIC Framework Document were located at U.S. agencies and universities. U.S.-based experts also contribute to IHP’s International Flood Initiative, International Sediment Initiative, and the Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management (ISARM) program.