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50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development


50 Years Water Programmes
© UNESCO/Carlos Neto
UNESCO is proudly celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its water programmes. In 1965, UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) began the first worldwide programme of studies of the hydrological cycle – the International Hydrological Decade (IHD) – complemented by a major effort in the field of hydrological education and training. Conscious of the need to expand upon the efforts of the IHD, UNESCO launched the International Hydrology Programme (IHP) in 1975 to follow the Decade. The International Hydrological Programme is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to providing policy advice, mobilizing international cooperation, and developing institutional and human capacities.
Over the past 50 years, UNESCO’s water programmes have evolved from an internationally coordinated hydrological research programme into an encompassing, holistic programme to facilitate education and capacity building, and enhance water resources management and governance. Today in its Eighth Phase (IHP-VIII), IHP facilitates an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to watershed and aquifer management, which incorporates the social dimension of water resources, promotes and develops international research in hydrological and freshwater sciences to meet current water challenges at national, regional and global level, especially through the worldwide network of the UNESCO Water Family.
IHP’s fiftieth anniversary takes place while the United Nations launch the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a dedicated goal on freshwater and sanitation (SDG 6). Involved in this goal’s inception, IHP is designed to contribute to its implementation.