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UK ISP E-Bulletin

News and Updates on the UNESCO Intergovernmental/International Scientific Programmes (ISPs) in the UK
Dear Colleague,
Welcome to the August E-Bulletin on UNESCO's major Intergovernmental/ International Scientific Programmes ('ISPs') in the UK.

This e-bulletin is part of a regular biannual series aimed at providing updates on UNESCO's environmental programmes - the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), and the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP).
UK IOC National Committee
25th Assembly: the start of a vital year for IOC
It was fortunate that the UK fielded a larger delegation (Fig. 1) than in recent years to the 25th session of the IOC Assembly. The agenda was full and there were more than the usual number of sessional groups, often working in parallel. A meeting of the National Committee for IOC had provided valuable briefing material.

Members of the UK delegation at the IOC Assembly
Fig. 1. Members of the UK delegation at the IOC Assembly. Past IOC chairman, David Pugh, was also part of the UK team.(l-r: Trevor Guymer, Roland Rogers, David Palmer, Jackie Wood, Steve Hall)

2010 is a significant year for the Commission as it celebrates 50 years of work and a new Executive Secretary is appointed to succeed Patricio Bernal. Although the main celebratory event will be the next annual Executive Council meeting, activities are already underway in anticipation of the anniversary.

Commemorative table-top and mast-head flags, the latter to be flown on ships carrying out designated research cruises, were provided by the UK to IOC (see Fig. 2).

Presentation of 50th IOC anniversary flag provided by UK
Fig. 2. Presentation by the Chairman of IOC (left) of a 50th IOC anniversary flag, provided by the UK, to the Chinese delegation. The UK was represented by its head of delegation Trevor Guymer (right).

A ministerial round table at the UNESCO General Conference will be held this year (12/13 October) on the theme "Building stewardship for the ocean: the contribution of UNESCO to responsible ocean governance". The UK Minister for Marine Science will be invited.
As a body with functional autonomy, Member States were able to select six candidates from over 80 applicants for the post of IOC Executive Secretary, from which the Director General of UNESCO will make the appointment.
Other IOC initiatives
IOC to host marine bio-geographic data
One of the outcomes of the decade-long study of ocean biodiversity, Census of Marine Life, is the Ocean Bio-geographic Information System (OBIS). With the ending of CoML discussions have been underway concerning a long-term home for OBIS. IOC has agreed to host OBIS in a way that will preserve its identity and visibility. Some of the costs are provided for within the regular programme budget but the majority will come from extra budgetary sources.

Implementing the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)
5th World Water Forum LogoThe implementation of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) is facing significant challenges: having achieved 60% of the initial design for the open-ocean observing system, a plateau appears to have been reached. Implementing the coastal component is also going slower than planned, particularly in developing regions. The need to ensure that the international coordination is as effective as possible led to a useful study by the former head of NOAA, James Baker, on behalf of the two main sponsors IOC and WMO. However, the main challenge is to increase the resources committed by Member States to make the observations themselves and to ensure their long-term sustainability. Advocacy to policymakers and fund holders is therefore crucial. A summary of the achievements and important benefits of GOOS is being prepared by the GOOS Office and will be targeted at policymakers and funders. The UK has contributed financially to the summary's preparation.

For further information contact Anne Brazier at the UK IOC Office (
In This Issue - August 2009, Issue Number 4
25th Assembly: the start of a vital year for IOC
Other IOC initiatives
Dyfi Valley becomes Wales' first new style biosphere reserve
UK attends 21st session of MAB International Coordinating Council
UK contributes to IHP-VII (2008-2014) progress
Droughts across Europe
Low flow manual
Short course on strategic leadership in the water sector
IGCP's new structure attracts new input
UK scientists sustain IGCP leadership and participation role in 2009
External Weblinks
For Further Information:
Natasha Bevan
UK MAB National Committee
Dyfi Valley becomes Wales' first new style biosphere reserve
The Dyfi Valley has been officially recognised as the UK's second 'new style' UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC) agreed to extend the original parameters of the biosphere reserve at its 21st session, held in May, bringing it in line with the 1995 Seville Strategy for biospheres. The whole of the Dyfi Valley, the area bounded from Aberystwyth, Llanbrynmair, Llanymawddwy, Corris Uchaf and Aberdyfi, has now become part of the new "Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere".

Dyfi bridge reflections  Cyril EvansWelsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson said the award was a flagship project for Wales: "This status is a great honour not only for the area but also for Wales. The Dyfi Valley now joins a world-class group of special places for both people and nature. It provides a valuable example of how communities can live in a sustainable way". Allan Wynne Jones from the Dyfi Biosphere Partnership added: "Over the next year the partnership will be working hard to help local people take advantage of this new opportunity. We hope residents will use the new status to get involved with local projects aimed at sustaining the local economy, environment and culture".

For more information about the Dyfi Biosphere visit
UK attends 21st session of MAB International Coordinating Council
The 21st session of the MAB-ICC, was held from 25 to 29 May 2009 on the Island of Jeju, Republic of Korea. A number of key decisions were made at the meeting, including the addition of 22 new sites from 17 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) which now counts 553 sites in 107 countries. The ICC also reviewed the themes for its forward plan. Having produced the Madrid Action Plan (2008-13) for the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the ICC agreed particular ecosystem themes to focus effort over the coming 4 years: humid tropics, coastal and marine ecosystems, mountain regions, deserts, agro-ecosystems and urban systems. Climate change was recognised as a cross-cutting theme to tie in with the UNESCO Climate Change strategy.

21st Session of MAB-ICC  UNESCO-MABCrucial to raising the profile of the biosphere reserve network within UNESCO and the UN system was the proposal that UNESCO's next General Conference consider how to use biosphere reserves more effectively as learning platforms in the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. A recurring topic and example was the use of TV and film as an educational tool to convey the work within biosphere reserves and the wider MAB Programme.

There was significant progress reported against the actions of the Madrid Action Plan; in particular the development of the "Clearing House mechanism" as an interactive library of information from each of the reserves to share information and projects.

The session formally recognized the new name for Braunton Burrows- North Devon's Biosphere Reserve and the operational area of the extended catchment and marine area totaling 3500 sq km.

For more information on the 21st session of the MAB-ICC, visit this link.
IHP National Committee
UK contributes to IHP-VII (2008-2014) progress
IHP VII (2008-2014)The UK Committee for National and International Hydrology met in March this year and as part of its agenda considered UK input to the 7th Phase of UNESCO's International Hydrology Programme entitled 'Water Dependencies; Systems under stress and societal responses'. The UK will contribute under 11 out of 22 focus areas of the work programme. These are collected around the themes of: adapting to the impacts of global changes on river basins and aquifer systems (focus areas 1.1-1.5); strengthening water governance for sustainability (focus areas 2.2  & 2.4); ecohydrology for sustainability (focus areas 3.1); water and life support systems (focus areas 4.1 & 4.4); and water education for sustainable development (focus area 5.1). A full copy of IHP-VII can be viewed here.
Progress in all of these areas will be reported to the next IHP Intergovernmental Council in June 2010. Sustained progress will only be achieved through continued and new funding from a range of organisations.
For further information about UK input to IHP-VII, including particular areas of focus, contact Alan Jenkins, Chair, UK Committee for National and International Hydrology (
Droughts across Europe
As a part of IHP-VII, much activity is focused on the potential impacts of global changes on river basins and aquifer systems.  As a contribution to the knowledge base on climate change, an assessment of trends in river flows across Europe has been completed under the auspices of FRIEND (Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data) and the EU Integrated Project WATCH which CEH leads.  Consistent trends in low flow severity could not be identified across Europe and further work is needed to make data and methodologies consistent across large areas.
Low flow manual
WMO Operational Hydrology Report No. 50The World Meteorological Organisation have recently published Operational Hydrology Report No. 50 entitled 'Manual on low-flow estimation and prediction'.  The manual provides state-of-the-art analytical procedures for estimating and predicting low river flows across much of the globe, regardless of the availability of observed data.  Such estimates have many applications, including water resources planning, effluent dilution estimates and water resources management.  The UK provided significant input from IHP related activities related to FRIEND and Alan Gustard (UK) and Siegfried Demuth (Germany) were editors-in-chief. A copy of the full report can be purchased here.
Short course on strategic leadership in the water sector
The UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee is offering a short course in leadership in the water sector, from 17-21 August 2009. This course aims to develop the strategic leadership skills of participants to aid their progression to being a future leader in water resources management.

For further information contact Dr Sarah Hendry, Programmes Director at the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science ( / Tel +44 (0) 1383 386473 / 384451) or visit this link.
UK IGCP National Committee
IGCP's new structure attracts new input
The External Relations Committee of the Geological Society of London as the UK National Committee for the IGCP maintains frequent contact with the IGCP Secretariat in its role of administering and monitoring input into the IGCP's science projects by the Earth science community of the UK.
The Committee's continuing review of the IGCP's new structure noted that the decision of the IGCP Secretariat to replace the number of annually approved projects from 10 per year to a maximum of 5 projects (but with enlarged range and societal relevance) appears to have been well received by the profession. At a time when project proposals had been declining in number for some years, including 2006-7, response by the profession to the new structure has seen a doubling of the number of applications in both 2008 and 2009. Applications are now coming in from nations and scientists who have never before applied to IGCP, and expressions of interest in the new, broader themes have been broadly equal in number. In welcoming this outcome, the National Committee will continue its debate on ways of optimising both use of IGCP resources and introducing a much larger 'flagship programme' to integrate with 'big science' initiatives by other international organisations as a further means of enhancing the effectiveness of the new strategy introduced in 2008.
The Committee regards the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) as itself in a state of change and having the incentive and potential to initiate 'big science' projects, thus helping to boost the position of the IGCP.
UK scientists sustain IGCP leadership and participation role in 2009
The outcome the 2009 annual competition for UNESCO-IGCP project status included notable success by UK geoscientists. Five new projects were announced in March 2009 (to run for 5 years - 2009 to 2014), two of which involve co-leadership by UK Earth scientists. The first, entitled 'Radon, health and natural hazards' is led by co-leader and initiator Professor Gavin Gillmore (Kingston University) and also includes Dr. Robin Crockett (University of Nottingham) as co-leader. Other co-leaders come from France, Poland, Taiwan and India. A second project on 'Evolution of Asian river systems' is co-led by Professor Peter Clift (University of Aberdeen), with other co-leaders from China, Japan, India, Australia and Taiwan. All three remaining projects include UK involvement of scientists from the Universities of Portsmouth, Brunel, Liverpool, Lancaster, Stirling, Durham and Southampton. Thirteen of the current 37 active projects are co-led by UK scientists, which is somewhat higher than within the past 37 years of IGCP.
The UNESCO Intergovernmental/International Scientific Programme (ISP) National Committees ensure the presence of UNESCO's Intergovernmental / International Scientific Programmes on a national level and promote awareness of their activities within Government, governmental agencies and among researchers.

The UK ISP National Committee Chairs Working Group was set up by the UK National Commission for UNESCO in 2007 to help increase cooperation and coordination among the UNESCO ISP National Committees in the UK.

This e-bulletin is part of a biannual series aimed at providing updates on the UNESCO Intergovernmental /International Scientific Programmes (ISPs) in the UK.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is the focal point in the UK for UNESCO-related policies and activities. As an independent body, the UK National Commission brings together a network of over 200 experts from across the UK in the fields of education, culture, sciences and communication. Working closely in partnership with HM Government and UK civil society, the UKNC aims to provide expert advice to the Government on UNESCO related matters, develop UK input into UNESCO policy-making and programme implementation, promote reforms within UNESCO, and encourage support in the UK for UNESCO's ideals and work.
To receive further information, or to comment, contact:
Natasha Bevan
UK National Commission for UNESCO / +44 (0)207 766 3468