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Announced 15th World Lake Conference in Perugia, Italy

The 15th World Lake Conference “Lakes: The Mirrors of the Earth. Balancing Ecosystem Integrity and Human Wellbeing” will be organised in Perugia, Italy from 1 to 5 September 2014. The continuing scope of this Conference is to again bring together experts in the field of lake environments and habitats, with the underlying goal of establishing a basis for developing multidisciplinary solutions to multidisciplinary issues. UNESCO IHP will in particular convene a session on “Ecosystem impacts” (MS3-04 of MS3 Inland Systems and Global Changes).

The World Lake Conferences, originally launched by the Shiga Prefecture, Japan, has previously been organized by the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC), in collaboration with local host organizations in the USA, Hungary, China, Italy, Argentina, Denmark, Kenya, India and Japan over approximately the last three decades. Continuing this tradition, the 15th World Lake Conference will be hosted in Perugia Italy from 1 to 5 September 2014. This upcoming conference foresees the participation of international, national and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, private sector representatives and other water stakeholders.

Utmost importance at the 15th World Lake Conference also will be given to disseminating the importance of conservation and safeguarding of the earth’s natural resources to the new generation of researchers and scientists, and to the world of education. Ample time will be allocated for open discussion on a wide range of ideas, suggestions and themes of mutual interest and concern to all the conference participants.

Lakes, both natural and artificial, are vital and strategic resources for all life on our planet. At the same time, they are also highly vulnerable to human activities, especially if not properly managed for their sustainable use. These critical natural resources and their ecosystems have defined geographical borders, while at the same time also being strongly influenced by their locations. In fact, although there is a geographical limit between a lake ecosystem and neighboring ecosystems, lakes are heavily affected by the substances which flow into them in the inflowing waters from their surrounding catchments.

Moreover, lakes are very complex systems affected by many natural and human-related factors, major ones being the materials that are dissolved in, or carried together with their waters, the climate of the region, energy exchanges with the atmosphere, the nature of the soils in their locations, and the variety of organisms which inhabit them, all of which are influenced by, and at the same time also influence, the lake system itself. This characteristic complexity means that if a lake is studied solely on the basis of a single discipline, it can often lead to misleading conclusions, or even incorrect results.

Thus, the continuing scope of the World Lake Conferences is to bring together experts in the field of lake environments and habitats, with the underlying goal of establishing a basis for developing multidisciplinary solutions to multidisciplinary issues. Furthermore, “transdiscipline” being a keyword in this conference, different approaches and perspective also must be taken into account to adequately address complex lake issues.

Therefore, we are inviting not only scientists, but also resource managers, policy makers, and lake basin stakeholders and users including the political figures to the Conference. The interactions between these diverse individuals will result in wider and more comprehensive discussions, with an overriding goal of connecting a top-down approach with a bottom-up perspective as a means of analyzing and solving complex lake basin issues.

This Conference also will likely have a strong influence on the younger generations of researchers, managers and lake users, launch different didactic experiences for children and graduate students, and teach all how to focus on world lake issues, as well as how to network with other colleagues in considering lakes and their basins from both a local and global perspective.