As part of the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of UNESCO’s water programmes, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) officially launched the book "Water, People and Cooperation: 50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development at UNESCO", on 2 December 2015 during Water and Climate Day at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). A high-level panel presented the 50th anniversary publication, available in English, French and Spanish, and discussed past and future of water-related cooperation with UNESCO.
The launch event featured a panel with Ms Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and Ms Blanca Jiménez Cisneros, Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) from UNESCO. The panel also included key contributors to UNESCO’s water programmes over the past 50 years such as Mr Sirodjidin Mukhridinovich Aslov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan; Mr Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico; Mr Johannes Cullmann, Director of Climate and Water at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Ms Lucilla Spini, Head of Science Programmes at the International Council for Science (ICSU); and Mr Christophe Cudennec, Secretary General , of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).
Ms Schlegel noted that the publication is a precious compilation of UNESCO’s efforts in the field of water that aims to provide the necessary grounds to reflect on the progress achieved since 1965 and guide the way forward to achieve the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and water security for all. Summarizing IHP’s past achievements, current activities and visions for the future, the publication of the book was made possible thanks to the fundamental support to UNESCO and the IHP from the Government of Mexico, through its Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the National Water Commission (CONAGUA).
Ms Jiménez Cisneros highlighted the key concepts present throughout the history of the Organization in the field of water: sound science, networking among partners and cooperation among Member States. It was precisely in partnership with WMO in 1965 that UNESCO began the first worldwide programme of studies of the hydrological cycle – the International Hydrological Decade (IHD). Mr Johannes Cullmann (WMO), highlighted the fact that COP21 is the first Conference of the Parties that is truly including water issues - a key factor for adaptation to climate change.
Water, People and Cooperation: 50 Years of Water Programmes for Sustainable Development at UNESCO compiles contributions from key actors in the history of UNESCO’s water programmes, notably past chairpersons of the IHP Intergovernmental Council, senior staff, members and partners of the UNESCO Water Family. Mr Christophe Cudennec (IAHS), noted that his association and its worldwide scientific network had been interacting with IHD and IHP from the very start and significantly influenced the content and development of the water programmes, with benefits for the evolution of hydrological sciences in the international arena. Ms Lucilla Spini (ICSU), also underlined the linkages between ICSU’s thematic areas and those of the current phase of IHP (IHP-VIII), focused on water security and responses to local, regional and global challenges. Ms Spini looked forward to further strengthening ICSU’s cooperation with UNESCO, for another 50 years of successful history.