Groundwater resources hidden below the earth’s surface are under threat, and action is urgently needed for their preservation and sustainable management. Plans for the sustainable management and governance of these precious water resources require investments in science, capacity-building and – above all – raising awareness. ‘Groundwater: our Hidden Treasure’ was an initiative from the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to UNESCO to discuss groundwater resources and challenges. The event at UNESCO headquarters on 13 October 2015 was organized jointly with the UNESCO International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC).
Groundwater is a significant component of the water cycle and represents 98 % of the Earth’s unfrozen freshwater. Many people depend on groundwater for potable water and for ensuring food security and sustainable living. Groundwater also sustains various ecological functions and services. However, many basic characteristics of groundwater availability and usage are still relatively unknown despite the vital importance this resources holds in both mitigation and adaptation to the effects of climate change.
Faced with the challenge to disseminate appropriate groundwater information, IGRAC has joined the UNESCO Water Family to build information systems that provide free access to the existing knowledge on groundwater resources, to support capacity building in the management of these resources, to raise awareness, and to assist UNESCO Member States.
The event held at UNESCO’s Headquarters on 13 October 2015 included an overview of the current state of the world’s groundwater resources and related challenges. The event was opened by Professor Marc Leblanc (University of Avignon, France and member of UNESCO GRAPHIC Programme on groundwater and climate change) after a short video introducing the urgent need for better groundwater management. Mr Neno Kukuric, Director of the IGRAC, then presented the most recent joint activities by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and IGRAC.
The event included the participation of H.E. Mr Lionel Strenghart Veer, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to UNESCO, who reiterated the importance of Member States involvement in groundwater assessment and governance. His presentation was subsequently followed by Ms Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, Secretary of the UNESCO IHP, who presented UNESCO IHP’s activities in this area and also expressed her support to the role of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in its support to IGRAC, among other contributions.