The UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), founded in 1975 following the International Hydrological Decade (1965-1974), is the only intergovernmental cooperation programme of the UN system dedicated to water research and management, and related education and capacity development. It addresses national, regional, and global water challenges, by supporting the development of sustainable and resilient societies. Expanding a holistic understanding of water, improving technical capabilities, and enhancing human and institutional capacities are IHP’s main tools. IHP’s work supports sound, evidence-based water governance and decision-making drawing on transdisciplinary science and technology other knowledge systems.
The IHP seeks to enable all stakeholders to participate in the creation of a new, sustainable, water culture. The IHP’s just started ninth phase (IHP-IX, 2022-2029) puts science to action for a Water Secure World, in a Changing Environment.
The Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme stimulates and encourages holistic hydrological research and knowledge generation, assists Member States in research and training activities. For the new ninth phase, the IHP will focus on five interrelated Priority Areas: Scientific Research and innovation; Water education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution including Sustainability; Bridging the data-knowledge gap; Inclusive water management under conditions of global change; Water governance based on science for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.
By bringing innovative, interdisciplinary, and environmentally sound methods and tools into play, while fostering and capitalizing on advances in water sciences, IHP acts at the science-policy nexus to help meeting today’s global water challenges.
Water, the connector
At the 24th Intergovernmental IHP Council, in June 2021, the UNESCO Member States adopted the Strategic Plan of IHP-IX, the ninth phase of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme, entitled “Science for a Water Secure World in a Changing Environment”, covering the period 2022 to 2029. Through IHP-IX, the countries identified key water priorities in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IHP-IX also supports other water-related global agendas, such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA).
IHP-IX Key Objectives:
- Water: Transversal key to achieving 2030 Agenda and the SDGs: Gaining the necessary knowledge to address the scientific challenges posed by changing environment, closing the water data and knowledge gaps, increasing open data access, and promoting research exchange at all levels, because all SDGs depend on sustainable water availability.
- Water, central to the Climate Crisis: Connecting climate and people, water is part of the solution: Across Member States, water allows greater collaboration and cooperation in the fields of scientific research and innovation for sustainable development and addressing climate change issues. This includes disaster risk reduction, capacity development for climate-resilient water management, socio-cultural and economic policies in view of tackling water scarcity and hydro-climatic risks.
- Understanding water across disciplines, sectors, and cultures. Raising public awareness at all levels towards an improved understanding of the vital, multi-facetted functions of water in domestic life, in culture, ecosystems and productive development; encouraging equitable partnerships, through science, fostering key levers to discover unexplored pathways to avoid crossing irreversible tipping points.
- Water use that leaves no one behind. An integrated, participative, and inclusive evidence-based management and governance of surface water and groundwater, determined by equitable, efficient, and balanced allocation and distribution of water resources across all sectors, ensuring preservation and recovery of ecosystems and addressing the climate crisis, and providing water and sanitation for all.
- Together for a peaceful and water secure world. Fostering Member States’ harmonious water cooperation towards a world where people and institutions have adequate capacity and scientifically based knowledge for informed decisions on management and governance of surface water and groundwater to attain sustainable development and to build resilient and peaceful societies.