Following a decision at the 15th session of the IHP Intergovernmental Council held in Paris, France in June 2002, UNESCO established a global network on water resources management in arid and semi-arid zones (G-WADI). International experts met in December 2002 to develop the concept, objectives, and outline of activities for the network.
The first meeting of the network, held in Paris in April 2003, was attended by 24 participants from 17 countries representing water authorities and institutions working on issues related to arid zones, such as UNESCO, FAO, WMO, SAHRA, IAEA, Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS), International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), the European Space Agency (ESA), Programme SudMed and L’Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).
The participants discussed concerns and problems, and came up with a draft implementation plan for the network that identifies the network’s objectives and outlines the organizational structure, membership, and links to relevant organizations and stakeholders. The document also sets a timetable for work.
The participants agreed to underline the urgent need for increased regional and international cooperation contributing to sustainable development of arid and semi-arid zones by formally establishing G-WADI. In the Paris Declaration, which resulted from their discussions, they declared their firm intention to contribute to the establishment of G-WADI, including its secretariat and to take active part in realizing its objectives and activities.