|UK ISP E-Bulletin
News and Updates on the UNESCO Intergovernmental/International Scientific Programmes (ISPs) in the UK
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
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 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
|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)
The 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
|For Further Information:
|UK MAB National Committee
|Dyfi Valley becomes Wales' first new style biosphere reserve
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".
Welsh 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 www.dyfibiosphere.org.uk
|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.
Crucial 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.
information on the 21st session of the MAB-ICC, visit this link
|UK contributes to IHP-VII (2008-2014) progress
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.
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.
further information about UK
input to IHP-VII, including particular areas of focus, contact Alan Jenkins, Chair, UK
Committee for National and International Hydrology (email@example.com).
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
The 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
For further information contact Dr Sarah Hendry, Programmes Director at the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (S.M.Hendry@dundee.ac.uk / 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
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
National Committees ensure the presence of UNESCO's Intergovernmental /
Scientific Programmes on a national level and promote awareness of
their activities within Government, governmental agencies and among
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
This e-bulletin is part of
a biannual series aimed at providing updates on the UNESCO
/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:
UK National Commission for UNESCO
firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0)207 766 3468