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UNESCO and WMO renew cooperation in hydrology and water resources

On 25 November 2013 at the UN Headquarters, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud, signed an agreement on reaffirming the long term cooperation between the two Organizations in the field of hydrology and water resources. While maintaining respective programmes in line with their fields of competence, the two Organizations recognized the necessity of close cooperation between their work on freshwater, and expressed their common determination to maintain and develop this collaboration in water sciences and water resources.

The life and death of the Dutch groundwater tax

Marianne Schuerhoff, Hans-Peter Weikard and David Zetland have published their paper «The life and death of the Dutch Groundwater tax» in Water Policy. In the framework of our UNESCO-related groundwater governance meeting in March 2013 we could offer you a pre-release of the paper already. The authors examine the Dutch national groundwater tax — a “win-win-win green tax” that promised to simultaneously provide revenue to government, reduce the relative burden of other taxes on productive behaviour (e.g., income tax), and improve environmental outcomes.

Environmental flows in the Anthropocene

LeRoy Poff and John Matthews have just published an interesting paper on «Environmental flows in the Anthropocence (sic!): past progress and future prospects». Human modification of the global hydrologic cycle through the building and operation of hundreds of thousands of dams and diversions has significantly altered fluvial processes, leading to impairment of river ecosystem function and biodiversity loss worldwide. The concept of environmental flows (e-flows) emerged to mitigate the undesirable hydrological impacts of dams and water diversions, in order to strengthen ecologically informed water management. In their paper, the authors outline the scientific foundations and progressive development of the current e-flows framework over the last 25 years, identifying three discrete periods in its history: emergence and synthesis, consolidation and expansion, and globalization.

Adaptation strategies in montane regions are key to water security

The important role played by mountains in freshwater supply and regulation justifies their reputation as Water Towers of the world. They are home to the headwaters of the world’s major rivers, and about 40% of the population depends indirectly on mountain resources for water supply, agriculture, hydroelectricity and biodiversity. Mountains are among the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change and are being affected at a faster rate than other terrestrial habitat, putting their integrity and the services they provide at risk. In view of the urgent need for adaptation strategies and policies, an exhibition and High-level Panel Session was organized during UNESCO’s General Conference to share experiences, views and recommendations on coping with climate change impacts on water resources in mountainous areas.

Offshore fresh groundwater reserves as a global phenomenon

The flow of terrestrial groundwater to the sea is an important natural component of the hydrological cycle. This process, however, does not explain the large volumes of low-salinity groundwater that are found below continental shelves. There is mounting evidence for the global occurrence of offshore fresh and brackish groundwater reserves. The potential use of these non-renewable reserves as a freshwater resource provides a clear incentive for future research. But the scope for continental shelf hydrogeology is broader and is is envisaged that it can contribute to the advancement of other scientific disciplines, in particular sedimentology and marine geochemistry. A new article in Nature by Vincent E.A. Post, Jacobus Groen, Henk Kooi, Mark Person, Shemin Ge and W. Mike Edmunds. 

Saline seepage in deltaic areas

On 6 December 2013, Perry de Louw will defend his PhD thesis on «Saline seepage in deltaic areas – Preferential groundwater discharge through boils and interactions between thin rainwater lenses and upward saline». More than 50% of world’s population lives in coastal areas and is largely dependent on fresh groundwater resources for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes. However, in many coastal areas, groundwater is brackish to saline which may pose problems for the sustainable exploitation of fresh groundwater. In low-lying coastal areas that lie below mean sea level, saline groundwater may reach the surface by upward groundwater flow. This process is referred to as «saline seepage» and is the main subject of this PhD thesis.

From Negotiations to Action on the Ground – Promoting Coherence on Adaptation Across the UNFCCC

Presented by the Netherlands and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), a side event on 22 November 2013 at the UNFCCC COP-19 in Warsaw, moderated by Karin Lexén, SIWI, provided an informal platform to explore how increased coherence on adaptation can be achieved and how cooperation between Parties and stakeholders can be strengthened to support enhanced action on adaptation at all levels.

Green growth and water allocation

The Netherlands National Committee IHP-HWRP, together with the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO, has published a new (fourth) publication in their series of water-related UNESCO publications: «Green growth and water allocation». Edited by Sophie Primot, Michael van der Valk and Penelope Keenan, the publication contains contributions from many of the speakers of a 2-day workshop held in November 2012 in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Transboundary water issues can no longer wait

International and regional water and policy experts agreed at Friends of the Earth Middle East’s annual "Good Water Neighbors" conference held in Israel, that transboundary water issues can no longer wait. EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East's (FoEME) annual "Good Water Neighbors" (GWN) conference, held this year on 17 November 2013 on the occasion of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, brought together more than 300 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian political officials, municipal representatives, water experts, local residents and civil society representatives in Herzliya, Israel last week.

SIWI to host the first UNESCO Centre in Sweden

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, decided during its General Conference in November 2013 to establish a research centre in Sweden with a focus on international water issues. The centre will be run by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in collaboration with Uppsala University and the University of Gothenburg. With its focus on transboundary water cooperation, the centre will be one of a kind.

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