|Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in some Asian Countries (UNEP-IETC, 1998)|
|Part E - Institutional profiles|
The UNEP Water Branch was established on 1 January 1996, with the consolidation of the former Freshwater Unit and the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Center (OCA/PAC).
A main function of the Water Branch is to promote and facilitate integrated water management, focusing on rivers, lakes and other freshwater systems, groundwater, and the coastal and marine waters into which they ultimately drain, including their living resources. The Water Branch integrates UNEP's water activities across (i) physical boundaries, (ii) disciplines, and (iii) types of water (fresh and marine waters). Particular attention is directed to internationally-shared water systems, including promotion of mechanisms for enhancing international cooperation for their sustainable management and use, as well as assisting riparian countries to undertake trans-boundary diagnostic analyses and to develop comprehensive management action plans. The focus is on both the scientific and technical issues (water supply and demand, pollution sources, flora, fauna, etc.) And the social, economic, institutional, legal and political issues that fundamentally shape the way in which humans use their water resources.
The Water Branch is UNEP's focal point for its role as secretariat of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, including its Technical Coordination Office in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Water Branch also administers and supports UNEP's 13 Regional Seas Programme involving more than 140 coastal States throughout the world, as well as UNEP's activities in support of such initiatives as the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, the International Coral Reef Initiative and the Global Plan of Action for the conservation. Management and Utilization of Marine Mammals.
The activities of the Water Branch reflect the objectives and goals of Chapters 17 and 18 of Agenda 21, as well as other chapters of Agenda 21 relevant to the sustainable management and use of water resources, and to the direction provided by UNEP's Governing Council. The Water B ranch supports activities of the International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) and the Office of Industry and the Environment (IE) of UNEP on matters related to the development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies (EST's) aimed at water resource management. It also participates in inter-agency initiatives involving common UN agency water issues.
To address its tasks and responsibilities, The Water Branch brings together expertise in river and lake limnology, groundwater hydrology, hydrologic engineering, coastal zone management, marine biodiversity, resource economics, monitoring and assessment, environmental technology, environmental law, capacity-building and public awareness. It also works with partner UN agencies, inter-governmental bodies, and international and non-governmental organizations on integrated freshwater and coastal water resource issues.