Monday, August 28, 2006

The UNESCO Water Portal

World Water Week was celebrated last week, and we belatedly feature UNESCO's Water Portal on this blog today. Water is an important theme for UNESCO, and the Organization has played a key role in bringing water related issues to the attention of the international community.

The UNESCO Water Portal is intended to enhance access to information related to freshwater available on the World Wide Web. The site provides links to the current UNESCO and UNESCO-led programmes on freshwater and will serve as an interactive point for sharing, browsing and searching websites of water-related organizations, government bodies and NGOs, including a range of categories such as water links, water events, learning modules and other on-line resources.

Water resource management is an area in which UNESCO's efforts to promote peace through the promotion of international dialogue is especially relevant and important. So too is it an area in which developing countries especially need capacity development.

The portal is currently highlighting the ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’ UN-Water seminar in Stockholm, Sweden held this month. It was sponsored by UN-Water, which is made up of 24 UN agencies, programs and funds that have a signi´Čücant role in tackling global water concerns including UNESCO, and which also includes major non-UN partners of the water sector. This was the annual UN-Water seminar, held each week during World Water Week. This year’s event addresses water scarcity.

Floods in New Orleans after
hurricane Katrina, September 2005, USA
© UNESCO - NOPD Isidro Magana

The portal is also currently featuring materials on the International Disaster Reduction Conference being held currently in Davos, Switzerland. The conference is jointly organized by is jointly organized by UNESCO, the Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction (GADR), the Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN), and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR).

The Conference is very relevant for UNESCO's water portal because more than 2,200 major and minor water-related disasters occurred in the world from 1990 through 2001. *Of these, floods accounted for half of the total disasters, water-borne and vector disease outbreaks accounted for 28% and drought accounted for 11% of the total disasters. 35% of these disasters occurred in Asia, 29% in Africa, 20% in the Americas, 13% in Europe and 3% in Oceania.)

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