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UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Visits USACE IWR-ICIWaRM

Published May 4, 2015
(l-r) ICIWaRM Deputy Director Dr. Will Logan; Dr. Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, IWR and ICIWaRM Director Bob Pietrowsky, and George Papagiannis, head of UNESCO's External Relations and Information Liaison Office in New York; during Dr. Schlegel’s visit to IWR’s ICIWaRM on April 27, 2015.

(l-r) ICIWaRM Deputy Director Dr. Will Logan; Dr. Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, IWR and ICIWaRM Director Bob Pietrowsky, and George Papagiannis, head of UNESCO's External Relations and Information Liaison Office in New York; during Dr. Schlegel’s visit to IWR’s ICIWaRM on April 27, 2015.

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.   Dr. Flavia Schlegel, the Assistant Director-General (ADG) for the Natural Sciences Sector of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), visited USACE IWR’s International Center for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) on April 27, 2015, to learn more about ICIWaRM’s support to UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and to explore opportunities for future collaboration. ICIWaRM is a UNESCO Category 2 water centre headquartered at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources (IWR) in Alexandria, Virginia.

During the visit Dr. Schlegel met with the IWR and ICIWaRM Director Bob Pietrowsky and ICIWaRM Deputy Director Dr. Will Logan to discuss a range of issues and potential cooperation involving the UNESCO water family of centres, chairs and IHP national committees around the globe.

ICIWaRM is a consortium of U.S. Government agencies, university departments, and non-governmental organizations committed to working together in support of the strategic program objectives of UNESCO’s IHP. ICIWaRM works closely with the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, the U.S. National Committee for the IHP and category 2 centres in other nations around the world.

Bob Pietrowsky led a discussion of IWR and ICIWaRM”s suite of activities in support of both the USG and UNESCO. The overall mission of ICIWaRM is the advancement of the science and practice of integrated water resources management (IWRM) to address water security and other water-related challenges by regional and global action, through new knowledge, innovative technologies, collaborative interdisciplinary scientific research, networking, training and capacity development. It focuses on readily transferable, practical science and technology.

In particular, Dr. Logan reviewed the various activities associated with ICIWaRM’s role as the technical Secretariat for the “G-WADI” program - UNESCO’s Programme for Water and Development Information for Arid Lands — a Global Network . G-WADI was established in 2004 by the 15th session of the IHP.  Areas of emphasis in the current G-WADI program include:

- Satellite-based precipitation estimates for regions with limited ground-based information,

- Hydrologic monitoring and forecasting for floods and drought,

- Regional frequency analysis on precipitation to assist drought managers,

- Chemical and Isotopic tracers, and

- Rainwater Harvesting.

Also discussed was Dr. Logan summary report on ICIWaRM’s 2nd international Advisory Board meeting, recently held in Seoul, Korea on April 10-11. The meeting generated many ideas for activities supporting the IHP-Phase VIII Strategy, with the consensus being for ICIWaRM to hold a partners (universities, NGOs, other USG) meeting as soon as possible to coordinate these new ideas among its partnering entities.

Dr. Flavia Schlegel took up her duties as Assistant Director-General (ADG) for the Natural Sciences on 1 October 2014. She holds a Medical Doctorate obtained in May 1992 from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development obtained in July 2001 from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Continuing Education of the Universities of Klagenfurt and Vienna (Austria).

Dr. Schlegel joined the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (Bern) in September 1997, as Director of the AIDS Section, responsible for the design, planning and coordination of the national HIV/AIDS policy and prevention measures. She then became Director of the Health Policy, Research and Education Division responsible for designing the Health Research Concept on Education, Research and Technology. In August 2002, Ms Schlegel spent two years with the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research serving as Science Counselor for the United States and Canada with the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington D.C., analyzing and reporting on North American Science and Innovation Policies.

Dr. Schlegel returned in October 2004 to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (Bern) taking up the position of Vice-Director, Head of the Public Health Directorate and Member of the Executive Board until September 2008 when she was appointed Director of Swissnex China and Vice-Consul General based in Shanghai (China). During her four-year period in Shanghai, Ms Schlegel was responsible for overseeing the establishment of Swissnex in China; a transdisciplinary institute for Science, Technology, Innovation and Culture.

More about UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP)

UNESCO works to advance and promote science in the interests of peace, sustainable development and human security and well-being, in close collaboration with its Member States and a wide variety of partners. It is the only United Nations specialized agency, symbolized by the ‘S’ in the acronym, with a specific mandate for science.

Since its foundation in 1945 UNESCO has acted as a catalyst for the establishment of many, now leading, scientific unions and bodies such as CERN; and initiatives with far-reaching implications for sustainable human security and well-being, such as the Man and the Biosphere Programme, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, were launched in UNESCO’s first decades.

UNESCO’s key science objectives are to:

     - Catalyze international cooperation in science;

     - Promote dialogue between scientists and policy makers;

     - Build capacity in science;

     - Advocate for science;

     - Act as a platform for sharing ideas and standard setting;

     - Implement programmes and projects in science throughout the world.

UNESCO hosts major international programmes in the freshwater, marine, ecological, earth and basic sciences. Science policy at the national and sectoral levels is a key part of UNESCO’s work in science. Emphasis is given to developing countries, in particular to Africa and to ensuring gender equality in science. Cross-cutting themes include natural disaster reduction, biodiversity, engineering, science education, climate change and sustainable development in small island developing states.

It is increasingly recognized that solutions to today’s global challenges such as climate change and youth unemployment need a multi-sectoral response and in this regard UNESCO mobilizes scientific knowledge in the context of its multidisciplinary mandate in education, culture, the social and human sciences and communication.

IHP-Phase VIII: WATER SECURITY; Responses to Local, Regional, and Global Challenges

The IHP programme represents an intergovernmental effort that promotes international scientific cooperation in freshwater water research, water resource management, education and capacity-building, UNESCO-IHP's water community operates as a global network that works together to implement the organization’s strategic goals along three tracks:

- Hydrological science for policy relevant advice

- Education and capacity building responding to the growing needs of sustainable development

- Water resources assessment and management to achieve environmental sustainability


 Based on the priorities and needs of Member States, IHP-VIII focuses on six thematic areas to assist Member States in their challenging endeavor to better manage and secure water and to ensure the necessary human and institutional capacities. These are:

- Theme 1: Water-related Disasters and Hydrological Changes

Theme 2: Groundwater in a Changing Environment

- Theme 3: Addressing Water Scarcity and Quality

- Theme 4: Water and Human Settlements of the Future

- Theme 5: Ecohydrology, Engineering Harmony for a Sustainable World

Theme 6: Water Education, Key to Water Security

In order to achieve this strategic plan, the focus is on:

1.  Mobilizing cooperation to improve knowledge and innovation to address water security challenges,

2.  Strengthening the science-policy interface to reach water security at local, national, regional, and global levels, and

3.  On developing institutional and human capacities for water security and sustainability.

The role of human behavior, cultural beliefs and attitudes to water, and socio-economic research to better understand and develop tools to adapt to changing water availability are some of the issues to be addressed.

IHP-VIII is bringing multidisciplinary, environmentally sound and innovative methods, tools and approaches into play by capitalizing on advances in water sciences, as well as building competences to meet the challenges of today’s global water challenges. National Committees, UNESCO centres such as USACE-IWR’s ICIWaRM are playing an important role in this process.

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