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Key outcomes of the Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Programme

25 June 2018

The progress of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme was reviewed on 11-15 June 2018 by its Intergovernmental Council, composed of 36 Member States. The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building.

New Constituency

This 23rd session of the IHP Council gathered 253 participants (95 women and 158 men) from 79 Countries. It reflected the increased interlinkages of IHP with other UNESCO programmes, a result of a multi-sectoral approach towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, through the active participation of the Assistant Director-Generals (ADG) of the UNESCO Sector for Natural Sciences, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and of the Sector for Education. The Secretariats of the World Commission for the Ethics of the Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) and the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) also attended..

The 36 Members of the Council elected Mr Thierno Hamet Baba Ly (Senegal) as Chairperson. As such, he will lead the IHP Bureau that steers the Programme between Council sessions, together with Vice-Chairpersons Mr András Szöllösi-Nagy (Hungary, outgoing Chairperson), Ms Yosmary Gil Leal (Republic of Cuba), Mr Farhad Yazdandoost (Islamic Republic of Iran), Mr Alan Jenkins (United Kingdom) and Mr Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Arab Republic of Egypt).

Key outcomes and decisions

The Council adopted 13 major decisions through Resolutions by consensus.

Name and governance of the Programme
By consensus, the Council decided to submit a proposal to the UNESCO General Conference, changing the name of the Programme from “International Hydrological Programme” to “Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme”. The Council further approved revised statutes of IHP’s governing bodies, thus becoming the first UNESCO intergovernmental programme to align with the recommendations of the General Conference for harmonizing statutes and rules of procedure within the Organization. The proposed name proposed and the revised Statutes will both be submitted to the General Conference for approval in 2019.

Sustainable Development Goals’ indicator monitoring Transboundary Cooperation and Water Education
UNESCO-IHP and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) are co-custodians of SDG Indicator 6.5.2 on “transboundary water cooperation”. Together, they shared the main results of the first reporting exercise with Member States, highlighting that 107 of the 153 countries that share transboundary waters reported. Member States welcomed the intention of UNESCO and UNECE to organize sub-regional workshops in order to improve coordination with experts at national level, during the biennium 2018-2019.

The Council further requested the IHP to develop, in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UN Environment), and in coordination with the UNESCO Water Family, a methodology for a more effective indicator on water education. This new indicator should allow for a more focused and differentiated monitoring of the implementation of SDG 6, with particular emphasis on target 6.a. to reinforce international cooperation and capacity–development support in water- and sanitation-related activities.

New initiatives
The council approved two IHP initiatives:

  • The Global Network of Water Museums currently composed of 60 institutions that welcome up to 5 million visitors annually will strengthen IHP’s communication and capacity to reach new audiences in order to deploy and enhance the benefit of formal and informal water education;
  • The Land Subsidence Initiative (LSI), in response to loss of land elevation that threatens the viability and sustainable economic development of millions of people throughout the world, especially, but not restricted to, coastal and highly urbanized areas. LSI will build on the activities of a Working Group that was created in 1969, and currently counts with 25 specialists from 11 countries.

During the IHP Council, Ms Charafat Afilal, Minister for Water, Morocco, presented the Water for Africa initiative, which had received the patronage of UNESCO’s Director General. The Water for Africa initiative responds to the Ministerial Declaration of Rabat, Morocco, launched in July 2016 by the African Ministers in charge of Water. It is a coordination mechanism that aims to:

  • highlight the impact of climate change on African countries’ water resources;
  • promote climate justice through the available means of regional initiatives and existent programmes;
  • improve access to water and sanitation, and ensure food security and energy in Africa.

On 14 June 2018, in the framework of the Council, IHP organized a Science Policy Dialogue with eleven Ministers and deputies. The Dialogue was opened by Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, H.E. Ms. Zohour Alaoui, President of the General Conference, and H. E. Mr Lee Byong Hyun, Chairperson of the Executive Board.