Established in 2002, the International Sediment Initiative (ISI) is a global initiative to assess erosion and sediment transport to marine, lake or reservoir environments aimed at the creation of a holistic approach for the remediation and conservation of surface waters, closely linking science with policy and management needs.
Sedimentation can have major negative sociological, economic and environmental effects on water resources management. Examples include the following:
- reduction of reservoir capacity due to the interception of river solid transport
- need for repeated dredging of waterways and ports
- increase of flooding risk produced by the bed aggradation of piedmont rivers
- potential collapse of structures along rivers subject to degradation
- erosion of beaches near the mouth of rivers with sediment depletion
- pollution of water bodies by sediment-borne contaminants.
- Negative effects of sedimentation tend to become more and more relevant on a global scale due to population growth, the increasing vulnerability of many territories, and more severe climatic conditions, which facilitate soil erosion.
To address these issues, ISI has the following objectives:
Support the global agenda for sustainable integrated land and water resources management through sound sediment management;
Link science with policy and management needs at the local, regional and global scale, as well as in transboundary settings;
Promote the development of an improved understanding of sediment mobilization, transport and storage and sediment budgets at local, regional and global scales, to support effective sediment management;
Strengthen the capacity for sediment management, through education, training and the promotion of cooperation among stakeholders; and
Communicate the importance of sediment management to decision makers and the public.
These objectives are attained through the implementation of the following actions:
- Continue the development of a global repository for sediment-related data, including information and documentation on soil erosion, sediment transport and sediment-related issues to serve as the basis for a global assessment of erosion and sedimentation problems and their social, economic and environmental implications. Specifically:
• Contribute to the setting up of a meta-database by bringing together and compiling sediment-related data resources from within and beyond the ISI network;
• Integrate and take into account other sediment-relevant issues, such as wind erosion, pollution, biology, etc.;
• Develop a global hotspot map on sedimentation management at different levels to serve as a communication tool through which to ensure the visibility of sediment research on the policy agenda.
- Update existing ISI river basin case studies and initiate new studies to provide representational examples of sediment processes, problems and management in different physiographic and institutional settings.
- Develop activities and joint programmes to promote the improved understanding of sediment processes and methods for investigation and monitoring.
- Support scientific exchange, education and capacity building for sustainable sediment management at all levels through the organization with partners of conferences, training events and other capacity-building initiatives.
- Develop information materials, policy briefs and procedures relating to sediment problems and their management, for local and national authorities, river basin commissions, relevant technical agencies, local communities and other stakeholders.
- Strengthen cooperation with other UNESCO programmes, Centres and Chairs, other UN organizations, regional networks, international institutions and professional and scientific associations.