Water quality was addressed in Seventh Phase of IHP, with a renewed focus through the dedication for the first time of a specific thematic area – Focal Area 4.1 Protecting water quality for sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction under Theme 4 Water and Life-Supporting Systems. This focal area aimed to strengthen and develop the scientific knowledge base on the quality of surface and groundwater to attenuate contamination of water sources and to protect the quality of current and future water supplies for all their uses. It also contributed to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by facilitating the sharing and exchange of effective solutions and best practices on access to safe water and sanitation.
Major achievements on water quality under IHP-VII
UNESCO implemented numerous activities to accomplish IHP-VII’s objectives on Protecting water quality for sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation.
Major achievements include: strengthening and dissemination of scientific knowledge on water quality; promotion of sustainable solutions and approaches to reduce pollution, improve water quality degradation; facilitating the sharing and exchange of best practices; and creating awareness on critical water quality issues.
Key activities contributing to these achievements include, but are not limited to, the following:
- UNESCO Multi-stakeholder International Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming in Drought Management (Niger, 2013), a major event on the linkage between gender equality and access to water sanitation, highlighting the importance of clean water for better health, education and well-being of women and girls.
- Promotion of 30 best practices as solutions to protect water quality, identified and selected by UNESCO and disseminated at the 6th World Water Forum Solutions for Target 3.1.3 Reducing Nutrient Inputs and Pollution of Programme Action 3.1 Improve the Quality of Water Resources and Ecosystems (Marseille, 2012)
- UNESCO Seminar Towards Resource-Effective Water and Nutrient Reuse in the Urban Environment at the 2011 Stockholm World Water Week.
Innovative solutions to improve water quality
Innovative solutions for water and wastewater management rely to a great extent on technologies for pollution prevention and control and advanced water and wastewater treatment. In particular, the potential of nanotechnologies in water purification and wastewater treatment offers promising solutions to address water problems in developing countries. UNESCO’S effort to identify and promote nanotechnologies for improved water quality and wastewater management include:
- UNESCO technical meeting on Energy and Resource-Efficient Water Treatment: What Future for Nanotechnologies? (2014 Stockholm World Water Week)
- UNESCO Experts Group meeting on Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water: Meeting Water Challenges in Developing countries (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 2013)
- UNESCO-UNIDO Session on Nanotechnology Applications in Water Purification and Wastewater Treatment at the UNESCO-COMEST Conference on Emerging Ethical Issues in Science and Technology on Nanotechnology (Slovakia,2013)
Extrabudgetary projects and activities on water quality during IHP-VII
During IHP-VII, UNESCO’s work on water quality was complemented by extrabudgetary projects and activities.
As the international executing partner for Output 1.4 (pollution hotspot assessment) on the GEF project on Integrated Natural Resources Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem (Mongolia and Russia, 2011-2014), UNESCO carried out two basin-level water quality assessments:
- Water Quality of the Kharaa River Basin: Pollution Treats and Hotspots Assessments (Mongolia)
- Water and Sanitation in Municipalities in the Selenge River Basin (Mongolia)
UNESCO, with support of the Korean Ministry of Environment, fostered awareness raising on water quality through the production and dissemination of the UNESCO short film:
- Protecting Water Quality for Healthy People and Environment. This film was launched at the 6th World Water Forum.