After a successful and active year 2022, ICWRGC is preparing for 2023. This year promises to be very busy as well, as a number of important events are scheduled.
ICWRGC aims at finalizing its strategy 2030 in 2023, sharpening its profile and being well positioned to manage its resources in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 on improving water quality and sanitation and the UN Agenda 2030.
The UN 2023 Water Conference1 in New York, scheduled for 22-24 March, will certainly be this year’s highlight in the water sector. It is the 2nd UN assembly for water in the history of the UN and will bring politicians from the highest level and different stakeholders together. The main purpose of the conference is to assess the current status of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028), analyze the previous accomplishments and plan the future strategy to better accelerate implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 “clean water and sanitation for all”. As ICWRGC is advising the German government on foreign policy related to water topics, we are already in deep discussion with different ministries regarding Germany’s position on water related global initiatives and decisions. Two staff members of ICWRGC will also attend the conference as a part of the German delegation.
In connection with the conference, the GEMS/Water Data Centre (GWDC) at ICWRGC, together with its partners from the Global Programme Coordination Unit in Kenya and the GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre in Ireland, have been coordinating the efforts associated with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, target 6.3, since 2014. After development of the 6.3.2 Indicator to assess the proportion of a country’s water bodies with good ambient water quality, two global data runs were carried out in 2017 and 20202. 2023 will now see the third implementation. The GWDC and its partners are already working heavily on the preparations, the official kick-off for the exercise being planned for April.
In December 2022, the technical transfer of the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) from the University of Vienna to ICWRGC/BfG was completed, the database launched and data served from Koblenz since 12.12.20223. It is planned to organize an official kick-off event with high-level representatives later this year to highlight this milestone. Meanwhile, the ISMN team is working on strengthening the system, acquiring and integrating new data (at least four additional networks will be integrated).
To further promote international data activities, ICWRGC will co-organize a workshop for the Western- and Central Asian region in Oman mid-May. The event is part of the workshop series on “Essential Quality-Assured Data and Information for Integrated Urban Water Management” in cooperation with the Regional UNESCO Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM). In order to discuss the entire value chain from necessary observation to forecasting and warning systems, the Oman workshop will be linked to the new OUTLAST-project4, in which ICWRGC is a partner. The project aims to develop an operational, seasonal, multisectoral, global drought hazard forecasting system as a component of the Global Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Also in May, the Federal Institute for Hydrology (BfG), together with ICWRGC, will be evaluated by the German Science and Humanities Council. This is a voluntary process to promote quality assurance and development of Public Research and Development Institutions in Germany. BfG was previously evaluated through the council in 20085, ICWRGC through UNESCO in 20196.
The beginning of June will see the 9th International FRIEND-Water Conference in Dakar, Senegal7. FRIEND-Water is an international network of experts working in the UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme, aiming at converting scientific findings into practical applications towards global water security. ICWRGC is the chair of the regional group EURO-FRIEND and also part of the scientific committee preparing the conference.
Later on, in September or October (date still to be finalized), a Panel Meeting of the Global Terrestrial Network for Hydrology (GTN-H)8 will take place. GTN-H is a joint programme of the World Meteorological Organization and the Global Climate Observing System. It constitutes a network of databases related to the global hydrological cycle. ICWRGC has been hosting GTN-H since 2017, while the two databases (GEMStat and ISMN) hosted at the Centre are part of the network.
Towards the end of the year, on November 9 and 10, the International Conference on Mountain Hydrology and Cryosphere9 will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The conference is organized by the Nepal committee for the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), with ICWRGC being part of the scientific and the advisory committee.
In addition to these events with a fixed timeframe, there are a number of projects that will keep us busy throughout the year.
In collaboration with the Namibian University of Science and Technology, ICWRGC is managing the SASSCAL Graduate Studies Programme on Integrated Water Resources Management10. 13 Students from Southern Africa were awarded a scholarship last year, ICWRGC has been involved in developing the curriculum as well as the science plan for the programme. ICWRGC also identified German professors and academic institutions to co-supervise and host these PhD students during their stay in Germany. The mobility plan for their 3-month visit is currently being finalized and could be implemented in the second half of this year.
Other topics that ICWRGC is focusing on include water security in Africa (WASA11), estimating spatiotemporal uncertainties in river substance loads (URSACHEN12), the pilot operation of a climate service with multi-model-based estimation of climate change effects on freshwater systems (CO-MICC13) and supporting activities of the World Water Quality Alliance14.