Dr. Norma Angelica Hernández-Bernal, geographer and Environmental Engineer researcher and professor, just return from Montevideo, Uruguay, where she represented UNESCO-HidroEX for the three days Consultation Meeting for Groundwater Governance. This meeting gathered specialists from 23 countries in the water resources field in order to seek for solutions which will help to guide proposals and models to make underwater governance more effective.
It was the first Regional Consultation out of five, which will be held around the world for the Project Groundwater Governance: A Global Framework for Country Action, promoted by the UN Found for the Environment (GEF), UNESCO, through the International Hydrological Program, FAO, International Hydrologists Association and World Bank with the sponsorship of the Government of Uruguay.
The main point of interest during the event was the need of making of this hidden resource a more visible one. “It is already difficult the preservation and valorization of superficial water, now imagine how much must have to be done to show the importance of groundwater resources” the specialists expressed. But it is important to highlight that it is in underground that the water resources compound 97% of drinkable water of the planet.
During this stage of the consultation, more than a hundred government authorities, renowned technicians, NGO’s representatives and other entities from civil society and inclusive, the media will evaluate and will offer suggestions on actions directed to find ways to prevent, improve and restore aquifers around the world allowing that the usage will turn sustainable. “We need to show that instead of being a problem, groundwater can be a solution for many cities, which nowadays are dealing with water supply problems”, expressed Dr. Ricardo Hirata, professor and researcher from Sao Paulo University (USP).
At the inauguration, Graciela Muslera, Minister of Regional Planning and Environment of Uruguay, highlighted the characteristic of Uruguay as a country with a history of articulations and agreements, also because it shares with Brazil and Argentina its water resources. She recommended to seek formulas in order to give a more visible dimension to groundwater and to search for a more sustainable usage which can guarantee water supply for Latin-American countries. “We must act considering the fragilities and threatens and count always with the participation of international community which must also be responsible for our water resources”, she said.
The minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, remembered the cyclic droughts that Uruguay and the southern region of the continent has suffered and, even though every problem demands and individual solution, there are common ways which can be reached. Finally, Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Director, said that she hopes that the review of the 3 day work can help to take future decisions which can guarantee the sustainable usage of groundwater resources.
Besides this first consultation, there will be other which are already planned for the different regions of the world: Africa (Nairobi, Kenya); Arab countries (Amman, Jordan); Asia (Beijing, China); Europa (Delft, Netherlands). The main objective is to gather contributions to improve groundwater governance, now in a diagnose stage.
The project, with a cost of US$4,5 million to be performed in 3 years, will show the real state of the resource, will perform a diagnostic which will complement the first stage of the consultation with the input of the information on each meeting, and will seek for viable solutions for the problems which will arise from the 5 consultations events. Source: Aguaonline.