This initiative was officially endorsed by the IHP Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO at its 20th session in 2012 (Resolution XX-4), reflecting the recommendation of the UNESCO Workshop on “Addressing Water Quality Challenges in Africa”, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2011, and the UNESCO-IHP consultation meetings on water quality in other regions such as Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe.
This unique international initiative aims to promote scientific collaboration to address water quality issues in a holistic manner through joint research activities, knowledge generation and dissemination, and sharing of effective solutions, technologies, policy approaches and best practices among researchers, practitioners and policy-makers as well as among other stakeholders in both developing and developed countries.
Implemented in a participatory and cooperative manner, the programme is characterized by activities and projects of interdisciplinary and transsectoral scopes, which focus on specific water quality issues under thematic areas.
IIWQ, as an umbrella programme for UNESCO-IHP activities on water quality, focuses on three thematic areas in alignment with IHP strategies and priorities:
- Safe drinking water and sanitation
- Water quality management
- Wastewater management and reuse
These thematic areas contribute to global efforts to ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, protect water quality for human well-being and ecosystem integrity and integrate quality-quantity management of water resources towards water security.
These areas also respond to future water quality challenges, including emerging pollutants in water and wastewater, climate change impacts in the quality of freshwater systems and the water-energy-food nexus.
For the achievement of its main goal, IIWQ activities are entrenched within several specific objectives. Precisely, IIWQ aims at:
- Promoting scientific research, innovation and technologies
- Building the knowledge base and capacity
- Bridging the science-policy interface for science-based policies and strategies
- Creating awareness
- Fostering scientific cooperation and exchange
The IIWQ Expert Advisory Group was established with the aim to provide the state-of-the-art technical and expert advice on water quality challenges, priorities and emerging trends, as well as on future directions of IIWQ, and to facilitate scientific exchange and promote collaboration in this area to support IIWQ activities. In addition, it also aims to support countries in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda SDG targets on water quality and wastewater. This group brings together more than 20 water quality specialists from a variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations, research institutions and academia from different global regions.