EUROPEAN REGIONAL CENTRE FOR ECOHYDROLOGY under the auspices of UNESCO International Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences 3 Tylna Str., 90-364 Lodz, Poland


Hydrology (IHP)

The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building. IHP is holistic programme to facilitate education and capacity building, and enhance water resources management and governance and integrated an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to watershed and aquifer management, which incorporates the social dimension of water resources, and promotes and develops international research in hydrological and freshwater sciences. 

IHP-VIII: Water security: Responses to local, regional and global challenges

IHP-VIII (2014-2021) will aim to improve water security in response to local, regional, and global challenges. Transdiciplinary and environmentally sound approaches to water resources management considering role of human behaviour, cultural beliefs and attitudes to water, and socio-economic research will bring innovative methods, tools to meet today’s global water challenges. Ecohydrology is one of six priorities IHP-VIII. UNESCO centres and chairs will play an important role in this process.

Theme 5: Ecohydrology, Engineering Harmony for a Sustainable World

In the face of increasing climate instability, demographic growth and human migrations, and the emergence of new geopolitical centres, which will affect the global economy (including food prices growth and intensified environmental impact), there is an urgent need to reverse degradation of water resources and stop further decline in biodiversity. Appreciation and optimization of ecosystem services for society along with enhancement of resilience of river basins to climatic and anthropogenic stress may greatly contribute to reach this goal.

In the Anthropocene, most of the global landscape, except deserts, high mountains and the boreal zone, has been converted into agricultural land with spots of highly modified urban areas. This over-engineering of urban and agricultural landscapes results in a reduction of biomass and organic matter, leading to a modification of the water cycle from the model situation where biological component stabilizes the heat budget and water dynamics at the intermediate disturbance level, to a model where the water cycle accelerates and becomes more stochastic and unfavorable for biota and humanity (droughts and catastrophic floods). Additionally, these processes reduce carbon storage and nutrients transfer from mineral to organic forms, impacting the material cycle. To reverse those negative processes, a two-steps strategy has to be elaborated and implemented. The first proposed step should be based on von Weizsäcker’s reduction of energy and matter use per GDP. The second proposed step is based on Ecohydrology theory to regulate hydrological and nutrients’ cycles in “novel ecosystems” (agricultural and urban) towards the enhancement of carrying capacity of the global ecosystem. Carrying capacity enhancement is understood as the enhancement related to water resources, biodiversity, ecosystem services for societies and the resilience to increasing various forms of impact.


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