Mobilizing the Regions for Water Security: The International Hydrological Programme holds its 52nd Session of the Bureau

The 52nd session of the Bureau of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 1-2 June 2015 to review the functioning and implementation of the Programme and prepare the next session of the IHP Intergovernmental Council. In her welcome address, Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, stressed that IHP’s Eighth Phase aims to strengthen the science-policy interconnections, mobilize international cooperation and the development of institutional and human capacities, in the endeavour to attain water security at local, national, regional and global levels.

The IHP Bureau addressed, among other matters, the institutional developments at UNESCO, the implementation of the Programme’s Eighth Phase, the status and operation of the UNESCO Water Family, as well as cooperation with the UN system and other organizations, especially in view of the post-2015 Development Agenda and the SDGs.  Participants included the Chairperson of the IHP’s 21st Intergovernmental Council and the Vice-Chairpersons from all Electoral Groups, the IHP Council Finance Committee and the Communication and Outreach Committee, twenty-four delegations from Member States and IHP National Committees, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the World Water Assessment Programme, UNESCO category 2 water-related centers and non-governmental organizations.

Ms Schlegel also noted UNESCO’s contribution to implementing the post-2015 Development Agenda and the crucial role of IHP and the UNESCO Water Family in this regard. Ms Schlegel furthermore called attention to two important anniversaries celebrated in 2015, namely the 70th anniversary of UNESCO and the 50th anniversary of the Organization’s water programmes. The Secretariat presented the list of worldwide events and publications celebrating this 50th anniversary, including an IHP publication documenting the Organization’s history, achievements and outlook in the field of water over this period.

In an open session held on the afternoon of 1 June, the members of the Bureau shared their regional perspectives on water and IHP’s actions with a wider audience, presenting the specific challenges and priority areas of their respective regions. Ms Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, the IHP Secretary, emphasized the important involvement of the Programme in the 7th World Water Forum in Korea last April. She highlighted the contributions to the Forum’s outcomes: IHP proposed strategies to strengthen water cooperation and water diplomacy that became part of the Forum’s final statement, supported institutional and human capacity development, and fostered science-based and rights-based policy formulation in Member States. She also reported on IHP’s promotion of Gender Equality in the water sector and of UNESCO’s holistic vision of water issues and perspectives for fostering cultural diversity and harmonious relations of society and nature. Ms Jimenez-Cisneros underlined that IHP’s commitment to the Forum had provided UNESCO with additional leverage for the implementation of the SDGs.

The 52nd IHP Bureau also recommended that the Electoral groups consult on the creation of an Intergovernmental Panel on Water, welcoming Mexico’s proposal on this matter. Furthermore, the Bureau adopted several decisions, including strengthening the communication with Member States regarding IHP’s activities, as well as the coordination of the UNESCO Water Family in recognition of its strong potential. The dates of the 22nd session of the IHP Intergovernmental Council were also defined, it will take place on 14-17 June 2016.

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