Also present at the signing ceremony was Dr Robert Pietrowsky, Director of the USACE Institute of Water Resources, which will host the centre, and Dr Eugene Z. Stakhiv, Technical Director of UNESCO-ICIWaRM.
“Today, we establish the first category 2 centre in the US. It is a very important moment. For UNESCO to expand its freshwater programme we need the involvement of the US science community – we need its expertise, its creativity, its entrepreneurship,” the Director-General said on signing the agreement. He went on to explain that ICIWaRM would join a powerful global network of over 40 category 2 centres operating under the aegis of UNESCO, around half of which are in the field of freshwater. “Promoting more sustainable freshwater management has been a top priority of my tenure at UNESCO. The creation of this new centre will significantly bolster our implementing capacity in this area”, Mr Matsuura underlined, stating that the new centre would notably increase support to developing countries, especially in Africa.
Major General Don T. Riley congratulated Mr Matsuura on his remarkable achievements at UNESCO. “You can leave knowing that you have made a very big difference to the lives of millions. And with the creation of this new centre, UNESCO will go on to help millions more”, the Major General affirmed. He highlighted that the US Army Corps of Engineers had a long history in water resources management, with strong links to hundreds of academic institutions and NGOs in the US. “Our aim is to promote greater peace and security. When we talk about water supply we are talking about quality of life”, the Major General said, referring to the role ICIWaRM could play in helping populations anticipate water needs and adapt to the impact of global climate change.
Dr Robert Pietrowsky underscored the importance the US attached to UNESCO’s work in freshwater, noting that collaboration in this area had significantly expanded following the country’s return to the Organization in 2003. He referred to the new centre as an opportunity to further reinforce this partnership, explaining that good relations had already been established between ICIWaRM and other UNESCO category 2 centres, as well as UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. The Director-General said that this outreach was “a very good indicator of the centre’s future success”, adding that he very much looked forward to hearing of ICIWaRM’s achievements.