ALEXANDRIA, VA – 4 November 2009. On Thursday, 29 October 2009, Major General Don T. Riley, Deputy Commanding General, USACE, and Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General, UNESCO, signed an agreement establishing the UNESCO International Centre for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM). Also present at the signing ceremony were Mr. Robert Pietrowsky, Director, Institute for Water Resources and Dr. Eugene Stakhiv, Technical Director of UNESCO-ICIWaRM. The signing ceremony took place at UNESCO’s United Nations New York office.
The agreement recognizes the critical importance of integrated water resources management (IWRM) to improving the practice of water management and the delivery of water-related services around the globe in an efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable manner. It noted with appreciation that IWR as the U.S. host institution has already taken effective steps to provide the necessary infrastructure, facilities and intergovernmental relationships for ICIWaRM.
Mr. Matsuura noted that ICIWaRM is the first category 2 centre established in the United States. He stated that for UNESCO to expand its freshwater programme the involvement of the U.S. science community is needed. He explained that ICIWaRM joins a powerful global network of more than 40 category 2 UNESCO centres. “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,” he said.
MG Riley spoke about the collaboration between the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the practical experience in water resources and natural resources management that will be conveyed through the new ICIWaRM centre. He said that “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 programme.” He also talked about ICIWaRM’s help in developing and launching UNESCO’s first practical guidebook for Integrated Water Resources Management at the River Basin Level and its continued support of UNESCO IHP initiatives such as the International Flood Initiative and the Hydrology for the Environment, Life & Policy (HELP) program. He congratulated Mr. Matsuura on his accomplishments over the last 10 years, notably the expansion of the network of IHP Centres worldwide.
Institute for Water Resources (IWR) Director Robert Pietrowsky spoke about the history of U.S. and IWR efforts to support UNESCO initiatives in order to fast track the development, transfer and capacity-building of the practical aspects of water management. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the ideal vehicle for hosting the centre, with the Corps Civil Works mission fundamentally based on the delivery of proven, practical engineering solutions…[that] reflect the infusion of contemporary engineering and science into the practice,” he stated. “The U.S. goals for improved water management throughout the developing world and the Corps campaign goals for a sustainable water future align perfectly with IHP-Phase VII and with the Millennium Development Goals, and, on behalf of the U.S. National IHP Committee and ICIWaRM, we pledge to support UNESCO in advancing those worthy goals,” he continued. He presented a gift of appreciation from the U.S. to Mr. Matsuura in recognition of his 10 years as Director-General of UNESCO and on the occasion of this ceremony for the first UNESCO Category 2 Centre in the U.S.
The new ICIWaRM Category 2 Water Centre will focus on advancing the science and practice of integrated water resources management and improving water security around the globe, initially with a focus on assisting developing and emerging nations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
The International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) was nominated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and the U.S. State Department through its mission to UNESCO, as a global water centre (known as a Category 2 Centre) within the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) water network in February 2008.
The nomination of USACE IWR’s centre was endorsed by the UNESCO IHP Bureau in March 2008, approved by the UNESCO IHP 36-member nation Intergovernmental Council in June 2008, endorsed by the UNESCO Executive Board in September 2009, and earlier in October 2009 approved by all 193 of UNESCO’s member states at the biennial General Conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.
ICIWaRM resides within the U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR), and functions as a USACE knowledge center with access to technical capabilities Corps-wide. It also works in collaboration with other Federal agencies and several U.S. academic institutions and professional organizations sharing an interest in the advancement of the science and practice of integrated water resources management around the globe.