Mr. Matsuura, first let me congratulate you on your remarkable 10-year tenure as the Director-General of UNESCO. I am especially pleased that you will be signing the Memorandum of Agreement to formally designate our International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) as a Category 2 Centre in light of the encouragement and support you’ve provided us over the past five years as we pursued our candidacy.
Thank you for your service to UNESCO and congratulations on your impressive accomplishments over the last 10 years. The expansion of the network of IHP Centres around the world, essentially establishing a global water family within the framework of UNESCO IHP, is one of the great accomplishments during your remarkable 10 years leading UNESCO.
I am honored to represent the United States at this ceremony today, and I am delighted that it is through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the U.S. is now formally joining your UNESCO water family by virtue of our signing of this agreement.
To an outsider, it may seem unusual for the United States to look to the Department of the Army to be the host of the Nation’s first centre associated with a United Nations organization promoting peace, science, education and culture. Yet, here I am, taking great pride in the fact that the first UNESCO Category 2 Centre in North America is being hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is the result of a remarkable collaboration between the U.S. State and Defense Departments, with the full endorsement by the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
The U.S. has learned that the exercise of “power” must be applied intelligently, together with humanity and humility. The Corps of Engineers has a long history of involvement within the global water resources community of practice, including capacity development assistance to developing and emerging nations, providing public works infrastructure in support of peace and security, and being in the forefront of our nation’s response to natural disasters, both here in the U.S. and around the world, working in cooperation with other U.S. agencies and international institutions such as the United Nations.
The U.S. has a wealth of practical experience in water resources and natural resources management that will be conveyed through the new ICIWaRM centre. The centre is uniquely organized to capitalize on the complementary capabilities that are leveraged through our Institute for Water Resources, which has access to technical expertise throughout the Corps, as well as our sister Federal agencies, multiple U.S. universities, our wide circle of non-government organizational partners, such as The Nature Conservancy, and professional engineering societies such as ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), whose membership totals over a quarter of a million practitioners.
I am very pleased that through ICIWaRM, the U.S. will now be positioned to play a leading role in assisting UNESCO in the application of contemporary water resources management techniques as part of the IHP program. ICIWaRM has already helped to develop and launch UNESCO’s first practical guidebook for Integrated Water Resources Management at the River Basin Level and is continuing to support a broad number of UNESCO IHP initiatives, such as the International Flood Initiative and the HELP (Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy) program.
This is especially critical as we work together towards achieving the elusive goal of “Sustainable Development” while at the same time adapting to global change. Although we’ve both greatly benefited from the past partnership between the Corps of Engineers and UNESCO IHP, this agreement will allow us to elevate our collaboration with UNESCO to a new level towards a future founded on the