Building the Scientific Knowledge Base to Support Countries to Better Manage Their Water Resources.

Author:Schlegel, Flavia


Fresh water is a key resource for human health, prosperity and security. It is essential for poverty eradication, gender equality, food security and the preservation of ecosystems. Yet water resources are under increasingly severe pressure from global drivers such as population growth, climate variability and global change. Although constituting a finite resource, water is being stretched to serve more and more people and usages.

The International Organization for Migration recognizes climate change and migration as the most pressing policy issues of our time. Indeed, the international community recognizes the interrelation between increased climatic variability and water resources availability, which negatively impacts food security and social stability, and triggers or intensifies migration patterns throughout the world. In this context, it is vital for the global community to build sound scientific knowledge in order to support countries to better manage their water resources and respond to water-related challenges. The overall aim is to achieve water security by implementing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been working towards this end for more than 40 years through its Division of Water Sciences, and, more precisely, the Member States of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the only intergovernmental programme of the United Nations system devoted to water research, and water resources management, education and capacity-building. Originally an internationally coordinated hydrological research programme, it now constitutes an encompassing, holistic approach to facilitate education, and enhance water resources management and governance. The UNESCO Division of Water Sciences provides a platform to bring together the scientific research community and policymakers, benefiting from the extended network of the UNESCO Water Family, which comprises IHP, the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), and UNESCO water-related Centres and Chairs.

The aim of UNESCO to create knowledge societies is based on the premise that universal access to information and knowledge is key to building peace, promoting sustainable economic development and providing culturally sensitive and gender-responsive approaches to water-related challenges.


Water education at all levels needs to be improved if the global water challenges are to be met. Water education can start early in school, in order to forge a societal mindset that recognizes the importance of this vital resource. At the local level, education strategies have the ability to promote community-wide water conservation, as well as enhance skills in local co-management of water resources. The involvement of youth can trickle down towards other members of the community. Objectives also comprise enhancing tertiary water education capacities, particularly in developing countries. However, water education extends beyond the teaching of hydrological sciences. UNESCO...

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