Water quality monitoring is fundamental to sustainable water management. It provides essential data and information, which characterize the physical, chemical and/or biological state of water resources. Water quality data and information are crucial for the assessment of water quality trends and changes in the world’s freshwater resources and the identification of emerging water quality issues. They also support the development of science- and evidence-based policies and management measures that enhance water quality and wastewater management, reduce and control water pollution from specific sources, underpin regulations and their implementation, and respond to water quality emergencies. Furthermore, water quality monitoring is vital for the implementation and progress evaluation of the UN 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to water and freshwater ecosystems.
Water quality data in this area is are scarce, unreliable and unsystematic at the basin, national and global levels. Water quality monitoring are capacities are limited, particularly in developing countries due to the lack of monitoring networks, technical human and financial resources, and scientific knowledge. It is furthermore becoming more complex and resource-demanding to monitor diverse new pollutants, such as emerging pollutants, that are found in wastewater and freshwater systems.
Consequently, there is a need to disseminate scientific knowledge, enhance human and technical capacities and share innovative technologies to improve water quality monitoring. Advanced water quality monitoring techniques and innovative technologies, such as remote sensing, satellite Earth Observation and smart sensors, will help produce reliable, continuous and systematic data on the quality of water resources across extensive spatial and temporal scales. In addition, every citizen can be part of water quality monitoring through a range of citizen science tools.
UNESCO World Water Quality Portal
The UNESCO World Water Quality Portal was conceptualized and developed in the framework of IHP’s International Initiative on Water Quality to showcase and demonstrate the potential of satellite Earth Observation to improve water quality monitoring towards sustainable water resources management. The portal aims to support basin organizations to better understand the water quality and ecological state of water resources, monitor the trend and evolution of water quality and pollution, and assess anthropogenic and climate change impacts on water resources. It consequently contributes to science-based policy-making and management decisions to protect and improve water quality. It also promotes research and strengthen the scientific base on innovative approaches to water quality monitoring. The Portal’s first operational application was developed for water quality monitoring of Lake Chad and its tributaries Chari-Logone.
UNESCO International Scientific Symposium on Scientific, Technological and Policy Innovations for Improved Water Quality Monitoring in the SDGs Framework (Kyoto, Japan, 2015).
Convened under the UNESCO-IHP International Initiative on Water Quality (IIWQ), the symposium contributes to enhancing capacities of Member States to improve water quality monitoring at the national and global levels in order to support the monitoring and evaluation of the water-related SDG targets. More than 40 water quality scientists and policy-makers from 24 countries, as well as over 80 participants, attended the event, and a large number of online attendees. All contributions and outcomes are available through the Kyoto University OpenCourseWare platform(link is external).