UNESCO calls for radical reform of water education programmesParis – In the face of looming water shortages, which threaten to affect billions of the earth’s inhabitants by mid-century, UNESCO is calling for a radical review and reform of water education programmes and for a speedy doubling in the number of water professionals around the world.
This call is contained in a speech that the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, will deliver on Thursday July 17 at the new UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft, the Netherlands.
According to a state-of-the-issue document*, published last March to mark the International Year of Fresh Water, by a coalition of 23 United Nations agencies and programmes, between two and seven billion people will face water scarcity by 2050, depending on factors like population and policy choices.
But trained professionals and competent policy makers aware of the linkages between water, poverty, health, development and, indeed, survival, are sorely lacking.
Long-established as a world leader in water education, the IHE took on an international status and mandate when it became part of UNESCO in March of this year. It is expected to become the hub of a global network of UNESCO-related regional centres, UNESCO Chairs, networks and partnerships in water education and capacity building.
More than 12,000 students from 120 countries have graduated from the IHE since it was founded in 1957.
HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, President of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) will also be participating in the event in his capacity as UNESCO Special Envoy for Water, and will deliver a special address in which he is expected to announce the establishment of a multi-million dollar AGFUND-UNESCO Fund to support projects for the preservation and development of fresh water resources.
* The World Water Development Report - Water for People, Water for Life can be found at http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/