The assessment of global groundwater resources is one of the core activities of International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC). Next to the assessment, IGRAC – as UNESCO/WMO groundwater centre – facilitates and promotes global sharing of information and knowledge. In both activities, transboundary aquifers take a very prominent place.
IAH is a scientific and educational organisation whose aims are to promote research into and understanding of the proper management and protection of groundwater for the common good throughout the world. The IAH has over 3,500 members in 135 countries.
In the face of increasing water scarcity, and the dominance of agricultural water use, FAO is in the forefront to enhance global agricultural performance while promoting the sustainability of water use for food production.
In 2008, with the support of UNESCO ISARM among other institutions, UNECE published the first Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters, carried out under the auspices of the Water Convention. The Assessment is the first comprehensive analysis of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters in the UNECE region. It covers 140 transboundary rivers and 30 transboundary lakes in the European and Asian parts of the region, as well as 70 transboundary aquifers located in South-Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
The UNESCO/OAS ISARM Americas Programme results from the joint effort by UNESCO-IHP and DSD/OAS to set up the ISARM Programme in the American hemisphere. As the leading agency in coordinating the American Programme, OAS has focused its efforts on helping American countries become involved in carrying out the programme’s tasks.
INWEB was created in 1999 and in July 2003 was appointed as a UNESCO Chair for ‘Sustainable Management of Water and Conflict Resolution’. INWEB has prepared and maintains databases of South-Eastern Europe. The inventories include, for each aquifer, an interactive map using Google Earth technology, aquifer data and descriptive information.
In two projects OSS has been the executing agency of the project and UNESCO/IHP the scientific partner: North-Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) project, aiming to contributing to sustainable development in the area, and Iullemeden Aquifer System (IAS) project, aiming to provide favourable conditions for the emergence of an integrated joint management approach to the shared IAS water resources.
UNESCWA and UNESCO have signed an agreement for the development of the ISARM activities in the region. The subprogramme ‘Integrated management of natural resources for sustainable development’ aims to improve the sustainable management of natural resources in the region, with particular emphasis on the water, energy and production sectors, always taking environmental considerations into account. The subprogramme includes The Water and Environment Issues Team, which carries out a number of activities with a view to enhancing regional integration and cooperation for the sustainable management of water resources; in particular, to build the capacity of member countries in integrated water resource management (IWRM), devise national policies and plans, and develop the institutional and legal frameworks needed for IWRM.
BRGM is a France’s public institution involved in the Earth Science field for the sustainable management of natural resources and surface and subsurface risks. In 2008, BRGM and UNESCO-IHP have published jointly Les eaux souterraines dans le monde [Groundwater in the world], written by Jean Margat, as a contribution to the everybody’s awareness of potential but fragility of groundwater.
In order to contribute to the world-wide efforts to better study, manage and protect freshwater resources the World-wide Hydrogeological Mapping and Assessment Programme (WHYMAP) was launched by UNESCO in 1999 and BGR and UNESCO are the lead agencies. BGR is the central geoscientific authority providing advice to the German Federal Government in all relevant groundwater aspects, like management, resources assessment, and protection.
The UNESCO-IHP has set up a close cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Water programme. In the course of three technical workshops jointly organized by UNESCO-IHP and the Scientific Technical Advisory Panel of the GEF, the ISARM Initiative has become a centre point for facilitating projects and technical discussions as regards transboundary aquifers.
UNESCO is supporting the recently adopted African Groundwater Commission by the AMCOW. The ISARM Programme is very attentive to build partnerships with sub-regional initiatives such as those promoted by SADC, ECOWAS, Senegal River Basin Organisation, Niger Basin Authority, Chad Basin Commission continue for participate in.
The 67th Plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly decided to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session ‘an item entitled ‘The law of transboundary aquifers’ with a view to examining, inter alia, the question of the form that might be given to the draft articles.’ As stated previously the articles are not as yet a binding instrument to Member States and further experience is needed to build up customary legislative support for any future legally binding instruments. The ISARM Programme is committed to supporting those Member States that wish to consider the applicability of such Articles, supported by capacity strengthening and institutional development.