The lack of effective governance is cited as one of the main causes of unsustainable management of groundwater resources and degradation of aquifers. To reverse these worrying trends and close the governance gap, international experts and stakeholders are meeting from 19 to 21 March 2013 in The Hague, Netherlands, for the fifth Regional Consultation of the project “Groundwater Governance: A Global Framework for Action”, dedicated to the UNECE region*, to discuss regional priorities and needs that will feed into a Global Groundwater Governance Diagnostic.
The regional consultation is organized by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), in cooperation with the UNECE Secretariat and with the support of the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO and the Netherlands’ IHP National Committee. This project has been initiated in January 2011 by UNESCO-IHP together with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). The consultation is 3-day event, with plenary sessions as well as technical working sessions on thematic aspects of groundwater governance. The opening session will include the participation of high level ministerial representatives and the national and regional media.
The five regional consultations held in the framework of this project are aimed to:
a) acquire first-hand knowledge of regional issues from local groundwater experts;
b) raise awareness and promote a global groundwater agenda; and
c) build partnerships amongst collaborating project agencies, cross-sectoral stakeholders, decision-makers and specialists.
Organized under the responsibility of the UNESCO-IHP network, the regional consultations are a fundamental component of the Groundwater Governance project. These consultations will focus on the regional characteristics of groundwater use and will seek to promote discussion about the characteristics, priorities, visions and specific challenges to the region.
The results of the regional consultations will contribute towards the preparation of a Global Groundwater Governance Diagnostic. This will provide a technical base on which to prepare the various stages of the process. This will be achieved through the compilation of state-of-art scientific and technical knowledge currently available on groundwater resources and their governance.
Four other regional consultations were already held in 2012 (Latin America and the Caribbean region: Montevideo, Uruguay, 18-20 April; Sub-Saharan Africa region: Nairobi, Kenya, 29-31 May; Arab States region: Amman, Jordan, 8-10 October and Shijiazhuang, China, 3-5 December). This fifth and last consultation will also include a Round Table on Public-Private Cooperation for Groundwater Governance, as a contribution to the celebration of the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013. It will be entitled “Working Hand in Hand for Groundwater Governance” and will include participants from the private and public sector. This Round Table will explore opportunities for partnerships, information sharing, support and definition of key messages.
The “Groundwater Governance: a Global Framework for Action” project will be developed on a 3-years basis, in close cooperation with Member States, as a response to the emerging global concerns over the increasingly unsustainable use of groundwater and degradation of aquifers. The overall objective of the project is to increase awareness of the importance of a sound management of groundwater resources in order to prevent and reverse the global water crisis.
* UNECE region: List of countries involved in the regional consultation