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Facilitate discussions on water issues between scientists and decision-makers

The ambitious water goals set by the international community raise complex scientific challenges that will require new approaches in relations between scientists and political decision-makers. The design and implementation of a worldwide programme to improve dissemination of scientific knowledge and enhance water governance is one of the targets of the World water forum (WWF), coordinated in part by Onema.

The challenges facing the world, including sustainable and equitable management of water resources, adaptation to global change, stopping losses in biodiversity, etc., will require solid, constantly renewed scientific knowledge. How can we ensure effective and continuous transfer of this knowledge to water managers and political decision-makers? Conversely, how can managers be actively involved in formulating research topics?

Many approaches around the world

There have been numerous attempts around the world to reduce the gap between researchers, managers and decision-makers in the water sector. For example, in the United States, the congressional research service proposes a science watch for politicians, in Africa, the water information system has set up a network to disseminate water information, in India, a discussion platform for scientists and politicians exists on the national and local levels, in the EU, an interface has been created by the Water directors of the Member States, etc. All these solutions deserve more attention and should serve as examples. Thirty solutions will be presented during a forum session intended as the first step in the design of a worldwide programme to improve the dissemination of knowledge for water governance.


An action programme

A work group has been set up, coordinated by Onema and comprising the UNESCO Institute for water education, the Institute for water, the environment and health at the U.N. University and the International office for water. After inventorying the various approaches on the international level, including those submitted to the forum solutions platform, the group drafted recommendations and a proposal for an action programme. This work will be discussed during the session on 14 March.

John Tubbs, from the Water and science section of the U.S. Interior ministry and Dominique Ristori, general director of the European joint research centre, will lead the session on the importance of an interface between science and policy. "A long-term commitment and support from the policy and scientific sectors is required to create the interface", notes Frédérique Martini, the Europe policy officer at Onema and session coordinator. "A further key to success will be a commitment from international organisations to set up a network within the world scientific community to transmit water data to political decision-makers, similar to the system for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC)."


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