On 20-21 May 2014, an ecohydrology workshop and steering committee meeting was organised, which served as a start-up of the eighth phase of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP). During this workshop of one and a half days, held in Paris - France, UNESCO category 1 and 2 Water Centres presented how their activities contribute to the main theme of this meeting. In addition, these centres participated in discussions on cooperation with related international programmes.
In total, thirty-one participants from seventeen countries attended the meetings. This included also the participation of UNESCO colleagues from field offices (Nairobi and Venice), from the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), as well as from the section of Groundwater Systems and Settlements.
The Ecohydrology Workshop and Steering Committee Meeting was organised with the following objectives:
- Reactivate the Ecohydrology programme within UNESCO IHP.
- Re-establish/reinforce the Scientific Advisory Committee (Steering Committee), represented so far by UNESCO Centres and Chairs.
- Include other members and associate members in the committee to be chosen among the different scientists/researchers joining the meeting.
- Revitalize the UNESCO Ecohydrology demonstration sites.
- Discuss and plan the activities within the Ecohydrology Theme 5 of the new IHP Phase 8.
- Seek partnerships and synergies to implement projects on topics of common interests with other organizations/partners (Ramsar, IAH, EU, IGRAC, etc.) to join efforts in addressing common issues (e.g. natural/constructed wetlands regulation processes, etc.) using ecohydrology as a transdisciplinary, scientific approach to achieve water security (quality improvement, biodiversity enhancement, social interactions, etc.), at all scales.
Nienke Ansems, Researcher at IGRAC, presented on "Ecosystem-based adaptation in groundwater management". She introduced Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), which is an adaptation strategy for increasing ecosystems resilience, securing the ecosystem service and improving sustainable groundwater management. EbA addresses the crucial links between climate change, people, biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystem services. It includes adaptation policies, and multi-level approaches to reduce the vulnerability and improve the resilience of ecosystems.
The overall aim of EbA in groundwater management is to preserve the quantity and quality of groundwater, and to improve the role of groundwater in ecosystem services for the benefit of present and future generations. It thereby mitigates the impacts on groundwater under changing conditions including, but not limited to, climate change. The sustainable use of groundwater comprises both the adapted management and the effective protection of groundwater environments. Understanding groundwater in its environmental context is therefore fundamental.