Recent Submissions

  • Ocean Decade & Ocean Conference. Item 5 of the Provisional Agenda: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, Thirteenth Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, 6 May 2022 (P.M.) and 7 May 2022 (A.M.) Tunis, Tunisia

    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (UNESCOParis, France, 2022)
    The present document contains information on activities of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body and the Secretariat on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) & the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. 1. The United Nations have proclaimed the Decade to support efforts to gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure that ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for the sustainable development of the Ocean. 2. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) elaborated a Strategic Framework (see also full text in annex) on engaging in the UN Decade and presented it to the 8th Meeting of States Parties in 2021. The Meeting, in Resolution 4/8 MSP, welcomed the STAB’s Strategic Framework and reiterated the need to ensure full authorization of the concerned States and respect of confidentiality for unprotected sites in all mapping processes foreseen in it. The Meeting also called on Member States to support actions in the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science focusing on underwater and coastal cultural heritage financially. 3. In this regard, in February 2022, a letter was sent by the Secretariat to the States Parties to raise funding for the implementation of the Strategic Framework. Pending the necessary additional contributions, the STAB is invited to determine the priorities among the actions proposed in the Strategic Framework to launch its implementation.
  • Aqua-LAC, Volume 10, No. 1, March 2018.

    Alfaro, Eric; Avila, Patricia; Baethgen, Walter; Cassasa, Gino; Chaves, Henrique; Cordova, José Rafael; Evens, Emmanuel; Glantz, Michael; Gutierrez, Alfonso; Laborde, Lilián; et al. (Paris, France, 2018)
    The holistic methodology DRIFT (Downstream Response to Imposed Flow Transformations) and four other ecological flow methods (Tennant Modified for Mexico, IHA, Multivariate Analysis and PHABSIM) were used to calculate the environmental flow in the Río Verde (Oaxaca). The results indicate similar values for the flows calculated with the different methods. The multidisciplinary integration of biophysical information (hydrology, hydrodynamics, geohydrology, topography, aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, soil, water quality, ichthyology, entomology, hydrophytes, mangrove) and socioeconomic information (waste, risks, irrigation, technification and temporality Agriculture, industrial and agricultural activities, transit areas, planted areas, customs, culture, migration, employment and tourism) of the Río Verde, in relation to the evaluation and projection of environmental flows (for the dry and wet season) as a measure of Management and mitigation of environmental impacts in the “Paso de la Reina” dam project were considered. The recommended ecological flows in (m3 / s) were: Extreme Low Flows from 12.75 to 30.0; Small Flows from 32.1 to 70.15; High Flows from 150 to 260; High Flow Pulses from 350 to 500; Small Floods 548.52 to 1000 and Large Floods from 3000 to 4000.Flow strategy covering frequency characteristics, length of time to maintain hydraulic conditions, channel geometry, sediment types, water balance at the mouth, and distribution of terrestrial and aquatic organisms along the river. The consequences of partial or total alteration of the environmental flow components are described. Likewise, the multidisciplinary analysis generated the environmental flow scenarios, in relation to a certain condition of ecological status for the river and the analyzed species, as well as the impact assessments, mitiga- tion measures and management plans of the Rio Verde basin.
  • Climate Change Vulnerability Hotspots in the East African Indian Ocean Islands.

    Ogada, Tom M.; Partey, Samuel; Ramasamy, Jayakumar; Owade, Ombaka; Obunga, Patrick; UNESCO Office Nairobi and Regional Bureau for Science in Africa (UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern AfricaNairobi, Kenya, 2022)
    Climate change exacerbates the multiple stressors of the economies of African countries frustrating the achievement of key development priorities. Like many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the world, the East African Indian Ocean islands are particularly at risk. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts current impacts of climate change may likely exceed coping strategies making some islands and SIDS uninhabitable. The Indian Ocean Islands feel the impacts of climate change immediately and intensely because of their high exposure to natural disasters and their coastal and oceanic geographies. They are vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events, which are becoming more severe and more frequent (due to climate change), causing damages to property and infrastructure, and even loss of life. The size and remoteness make SIDS and Indian Ocean Islands dependent on recourses imported and tourism revenue, increasing their vulnerabilities to pandemic threats such as COVID-19. According to the recently published IPCC report, the Indian Ocean has warmed faster than the global average, which means the region is likely to witness a continuous sea level rise, resulting in coastal erosion. As a United Nations specialized body with a mandate in science, UNESCO is highly committed to assisting the SIDS and Indian Ocean Islands to apply science, technology and innovation to build the adaptive capacities and resilience of communities and ecosystems to climate change. Over 30 UNESCO programmes in the sciences, education, culture and communication contribute to creating knowledge, educating and communicating about climate change, and to understanding the ethical implications for present and future generations. UNESCO supports policy makers so that Member States can meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Together with UNFCCC and other partners, UNESCO continues to provide guidance on the implementation of the education articles of the Climate Convention and of the Paris Agreement. At the policy level, UNESCO supports Member States in order to accelerate progress towards achievement of their commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement. The Organization also ensures coherence between the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4, Target 4.7 (which addresses Education for Sustainable Development, among others) and Sustainable Development Goal 13 (which addresses climate change). This publication, which accentuates the climate vulnerability hotspots of the East African Indian Ocean Islands is timely and will help stakeholders identify areas needing critical interventions to avert climate-related risks. We are hopeful that the findings will also stimulate policy decisions that drive investments for resilience building in the Indian Ocean Islands in the East African region.
  • Ecohydrology Workshop and Scientific Advisory Committee: Ecohydrology, engineering for a sustainable world, Institute of Engineering, Civil Engineering Building, 28 Feb -02 Mar 2018.

    UNESCO-IHP (UNESCO-IHPParis, France, 2018)
    The Ecohydrology Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) aims to prepare a global strategy and vision for the next 4 years of IHP phase 8 (ending in 2021), and start planning and considering, in light of the new global water agendas, the role that Ecohydrology could play in the next phase of IHP 9 (starting in 2022). This meeting will be attended by several Category 2 Water related Centres and Water Chairs working in Ecohydrology, by UNESCO Regional Hydrologists, and representatives from all Regions. Youth participation is also encouraged, and a dedicated session on “Early Career Researchers in Ecohydrology” is part of the events. The Ecohydrology programme benefits from a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) to guide the IHP Secretariat on strategic directions, new dimensions, activities, programme execution, and communication of scientific and practical way forward. The SAC is composed of representatives of Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO (C2C), water-related UNESCO Chairs and Regional Focal Points: • The European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology (ERCE, Poland) • The International Centre for Coastal Ecohydrology (ICCE, Portugal) • The African Regional Centre for Ecohydrology (ARCE, Ethiopia) • The Asia Pacific Centre for Ecohydrology (APCE, Indonesia) • The IHE Delft Chair in Ecohydrology, the Netherlands • The UNESCO Water Chair in Ecohydrology and Hydroinformatics, China • The UNESCO Water Chair in Ecohydrology Water Ecosystem for Societies, Portugal • The Focal point for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The Committee will address the following topics: 1. Report on current and past global activities (particularly during the period 2014-2017) 2. Ecohydrology Demosites updates and new publications. 3. Discussion on future activities and strategies (including UNESCO Priority Africa and Gender). 4. Engage in a dialogue on scientific challenges to achieve the water-related SDGs involving visions from young researchers and professionals. Expected outcomes: dentifying gaps and opportunities in the dissemination the Ecohydrology concept and potential research and scientific questions for future strategies. 2. Highlighting the role of international networks working with ecohydrological solution-oriented approaches for the enhancement of ecosystem services for the benefit of societies in demonstration sites. 3. Identifying region priorities and showcasing innovative solutions and adaptation strategies to address water security challenges, including interlinkages with both UNESCO Programmes (MAB) and other international ones. 4. General strategy to include ecohydrological concepts in national development plans, with priority in Africa.
  • Flood Management through flood forecasting and early warning system.

    Rehman, Atta-Ur; Ali, Amjad (University of Peshawar, Centre for Disaster Preparedness and ManagementIslamabad, Pakistan, 2018)
    The manual is focused to understand the basic concepts of disaster management and status of disasters in Pakistan. This manual intends to explore flood phenomenon and its effects on the lives and livelihoods of people in Pakistan. The manual also enable the participants to encompass the flood risk assessment for effective forecasting and early warning system in Pakistan. Furthermore, it shares the knowledge of appropriate actions for flood management both in pre and post flood emergency situations.
  • Transboundary Water Cooperation and the Sustainable Development.

    Sindico, Francesco; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); International Hydrological Programme (UNESCOParis, France, 2016)
    The last several years have seen a discernible shift in global priorities towards advancing the concept of sustainable development. In particular, the establishment of the post-2015 development agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN General Assembly points towards an integrated plan towards tackling global challenges. The goals seek to protect and improve five key areas of the world including people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The intent of this paper is to emphasize the vital role that transboundary water cooperation plays in global development, and to map out the relationship that this cooperation has with the other goals. Existing and emerging rules and institutions have been developed in international law to minimise, and where possible halt, negative consequences stemming from poor management of transboundary waters. SDG 6 provides for an important spotlight on improving water and sanitation, however for the context of global development it is crucial for water management to be interpreted and actionably combined with the other relevant SDGs, rather than curtailed as an individual entity. From direct linkages to indirect references, transboundary water cooperation is intrinsically connected to several other principles of sustainable development reflected in the goals and targets, including environment, energy, and food amongst others, and therefore must be viewed as an integral piece of global water management. Furthermore, Target 6.5 requires a set of two indicators in order to fully capture the importance of both integrated water resources management (IWRM) and transboundary water cooperation in the implementation of the SDGs. It is paramount that an indicator is retained solely for the transboundary water cooperation element embedded in Target 6.5. This paper advocates for an indicator that should be broad enough to reward also cooperative frameworks aimed at developing a sound system of exchange of information, and not only fully fledged IWRM systems. This is particularly important in the context of transboundary aquifers governance, where many of the cooperative frameworks being discussed are at a very initial stage. The indicator can be reviewed throughout the implementation of the SDGs, especially in relation to the quantity and quality of the information that needs to be exchanged in order to meet the indicator. UNESCO-IHP and UNECE can play an important role, together with other members of UN Water, in monitoring this much needed indicator.
  • Progress report on the implementation of the MAB Strategy for 2015-2025 and the associated Lima Action Plan for UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves 2016-2025.

    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (UNESCOParis, France, 2017)
    Pursuant to 200 EX/Decision 5.I.B and 38 C/Resolution 19, the Director-General submits to the General Conference this information document which contains a summary of progress made in the implementation of the MAB Strategy 2015-2025 and the Lima Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves 2016-2025. Notably, this document includes information recently collected for and presented at the 29th session of the International Co-ordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme held from 12 to 15 June 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme Strategy 2015-2025 (“the MAB Strategy") was endorsed by the 38th session of the General Conference (38 C/Resolution 19) following a broad and transparent consultation process and the collective contributions of many Member States under the auspices of the MAB International Coordinating Council (MAB ICC). Through 38 C/Resolution 19, the General Conference also encouraged the MAB ICC, in cooperation with the MAB Secretariat, to finalize the development of the Lima Action Plan for UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) 2016-2025 (“Lima Action Plan”) in support of the MAB Strategy, and requested the Director-General to present to the Executive Board, at its 200th session, a progress report on the implementation of the MAB Strategy and the associated Lima Action Plan, including their contribution to the implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At its 200th session, the Executive Board expressed its appreciation to the Director-General for the report and to Peru for hosting the Lima Congress and the 28th MAB ICC (14-17 March 2016, Lima, Peru). The Executive Board then endorsed the Lima Action Plan as adopted and endorsed respectively by the 28th MAB ICC and the Lima Congress and requested the Director-General to present a progress report on the implementation of the MAB Strategy for 2015-2025 and the Lima Action Plan to the 39th session of the General Conference (200 EX/Decision 5.I.B). The requested progress report is contained in the present document. Relevant information can also be found in the report of the MAB ICC on its activities (2016-2017) contained in document 39 C/REP/10. For ease of reference, the complete texts of the MAB Strategy, the Lima Action Plan and the Lima Congress Declaration are available in a single publication (in the six official languages of UNESCO) entitled “A New Roadmap for the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves”.
  • Observation of Harmful Algal Blooms with Ocean Colour Radiometry.

    Bernard, Stewart; Kudela, Raphael; Robertson Lain, Lisl; Pitcher, Grant; International Ocean Colour Coordinating Group (International Ocean-Colour Coordinating GroupDartmouth, Canada, 2021)
    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur in virtually all coastal regions of the world as well as many lakes, and are typically associated with a rapid proliferation of phytoplankton cells, but even low cell numbers of highly toxic species may cause harmful e ects in the ecosystem and/or the surrounding environment. Dense algal blooms produce a significant phytoplankton contribution to the water body’s optical signal, making HAB applications an instinctively attractive one for ocean colour radiometry. Indeed, there exists some spectacular satellite imagery of algal blooms the world over (e.g., Figure 1.1). But beyond the attractiveness of the imagery, this monograph addresses the extent to which ocean colour radiometry can inform scientifically in HAB regions, both towards answering research questions as well as for use in the operational detection and management systems necessary for the mitigation of harmful health, economic and recreational impacts of HABs. The potential for harm caused by these blooms is two-fold: in the first instance, the algal assemblage itself may contain toxins poisonous to organisms. Aquatic and non-aquatic animals alike can be a ected by these toxins, which tend to increase through successive trophic levels, accumulating up the food chain. These organisms (primarily dinoflagellates and diatoms) and the nature of their impacts, including paralytic shellfish poisoning, amnesic shellfish poisoning and neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, are described in Chapters 4, 5 and 6. Another set of toxin-containing HABs are the high-biomass cyanobacterial blooms which frequently occur in lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal seas, and are considered harmful for diverse reasons including contamination of drinking water, concentration of toxins in higher trophic level organisms (e.g., health of cattle and wildlife), and the associated reduction of the recreational, economic and ecological value of a ected water bodies. Cyanobacterial blooms are increasing in frequency and intensity, perhaps in response to climate change. Several case studies of remote sensing of cyanobacteria blooms in lakes as well as in the Baltic Sea are discussed in Chapter 7. The other mechanism by which harm may be caused is by the algal biomass growing so large, and the phytoplankton bloom so dense, that it impacts the health of the ecosystem by other biophysical means while not actually comprising toxic species. Dense blooms can clog the gills of fish and invertebrates as described in Chapter 8. One of the most serious environmental consequences of a dense bloom is that of anoxia — where oxygen is depleted by respiration and decay to such an extent that all oxygen-dependent organisms in the ecosystem are a ected (Pitcher and Jacinto 2019). Those that are mobile move away from the oxygen-depleted water, whether into an una ected area of the ocean or out of the water altogether e.g., lobster walkouts. These impacts are described in Chapter 9. Also discussed in this chapter is a sub-category of non-toxic harmful blooms called ecologically disruptive algal blooms (EDABs), comprising certain small-celled algal species which disrupt trophic dynamics by non-chemical means. This chapter presents case studies where the aquaculture industry is impacted by blooms of this type, as well as blooms that threaten the ecological health of subtropical estuaries. This IOCCG monograph addresses both groups of HABs in the context of the use of satellite ocean colour data to detect, identify, monitor, manage and project/predict HAB events. HABs, while anomalous by definition, are in some regions a normal occasional occurrence in perfectly healthy ecosystems. Many areas are subject to physical and biophysical forcing which primes these systems for regular seasonal HABs. Other HAB events may occur suddenly and unexpectedly, for example as a result of unusual nutrient inputs. Yet other HABs are fairly persistent in their presence and intensity, for example cyanobacterial populations in inland water bodies in China, Europe and Southern Africa (see Chapter 7). Each HAB system has its own unique forcings and resultant character, making a one-size-fits-all approach to satellite data use highly challenging. With increasingly large proportions of global populations living in proximity to HAB-vulnerable water bodies, the societal impact of HABs is increasing as well. Drinking and agricultural water supplies are under increasing pressure across the globe, and eutrophication of these water sources is one of the most pressing freshwater problems we face today. This has resulted in demand for operational HAB monitoring and management systems to predict, observe and mitigate the e ects of HAB events. Chapter 10 presents some examples of the development and implementation of such systems. In the context of climate change, an increase in the frequency and intensity of HABs is anticipated in many regions of the world, and is specifically of great concern in areas used for aquaculture to support food security and economic sustainability. proximity to HAB-vulnerable water bodies, the societal impact of HABs is increasing as well. Drinking and agricultural water supplies are under increasing pressure across the globe, and eutrophication of these water sources is one of the most pressing freshwater problems we face today. This has resulted in demand for operational HAB monitoring and management systems to predict, observe and mitigate the e ects of HAB events. Chapter 10 presents some examples of the development and implementation of such systems. In the context of climate change, an increase in the frequency and intensity of HABs is anticipated in many regions of the world, and is specifically of great concern in areas used for aquaculture to support food security and economic sustainability.
  • Evaluation of the strategic positioning of IOC-UNESCO.

    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Internal Oversight Service (UNESCOParis, France, 2022)
    In 2017, the UN General Assembly declared the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). It has entrusted IOC-UNESCO with the design and delivery of the Decade to ensure that ocean science is indeed underpinning sustainable ocean management and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda more broadly. Fulfilling its mandate as trustee of the Ocean Decade, as well as delivering on a growing list of additional roles, in an oceanographic space that is both expanding and increasingly crowded, establishes an important opportunity but also an overarching challenge for IOC-UNESCO. In the context of the upcoming UN Decade of the Ocean, the IOC-UNESCO agreed with the Internal Oversight Service (IOS) on the merit of conducting an evaluation of its strategic positioning within the UN system and the broader landscape of ocean-related actors and programmes, taking into account relevant enabling policy frameworks to which the work of the Commission responds.
  • Nature and people in the Socotra Archipelago.

    Van Damme, Kay; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) office in Doha (UNESCO Office in DohaDoha, Qatar, 2022)
    Unique Islands with a Rich Natural and Cultural Heritage The Socotra Archipelago is a true treasure of Yemen, located in the western Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa. This ancient and until recently relatively isolated part of the Arabian Peninsula is known for its exceptional biodiversity on land and in the sea. Socotra’s iconic Dragon’s Blood Trees are known worldwide and symbolize a close bond between nature and the indigenous inhabitants of the island who depend on it, and who speak their unique, endangered language. Due to its remarkable and highly vulnerable island ecosystems containing many endemics, the Socotra Archipelago was designated as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve in 2003, a Ramsar Site in 2007 (Detwah Lagoon) and then as UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 2008. These remarkable designations came primarily as recognition of Socotra’s outstanding biodiversity richness, characterised by a high proportion of unique species living in special island habitats. In addition, the cultural landscape of Socotra has been gently shaped through natural and human influences over several millennia. However, a recent decline of that vital bond, combined with the devastating effects of climate change, unsustainable resources use and other impacts, have affected life on these islands for humans, plants and animals alike. This richly illustrated publication, based on the currently available scientific knowledge and stories from the island’s inhabitants, provides a brief overview of the rich biodiversity of the Socotra Archipelago Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, highlighting the vital bond between humans and nature. Challenges are highlighted as well as inspiring stories of hope, examples where the Socotran people are taking the lead in protecting their environment and culture. These examples of the unique, yet fragile bond between people and nature in Socotra can be regarded as an inspiration worldwide, as many unique areas are facing similar challenges that are affecting the natural and cultural heritage.
  • Early warning systems (EWS) based on educational management information systems (EMIS): Community of Data Specialists for Educational Planning: synthesis report of the regional virtual workshop, 3.

    UNESCO Office Santiago and Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO and Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago),Paris, France, 2022)
    On November 23, 2021 the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) and the Latin American Office of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIPE) organised the third Regional Virtual Workshop on the Community of Data Specialists for Educational Planning The Regional Virtual Workshop provided a group work space in which officials, civil servants and data specialists from 14 countries participated. They reflected on school dropout prevention and on the region’s Early Warning System experiences. This report systematises the main reflections and experiences shared in the meeting.
  • Strategies for increasing water availability and enhancing water-use efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Doria, Miguel de França; García, Magalí; Mancilla, Gabriel; Buytaert, Wouter; UNESCO Office Montevideo and Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean (United Nations and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganizationMontevideo, Uruguay, 2021)
    What strategies to choose to overcome the challenge of water management? Climate change, new patterns of land use, deforestation and urbanisation, among others, make water management in Latin America and the Caribbean a challenge of significant complexity. Population growth also plays an important role: the region's population has grown steadily since 1950, to over 650 million today, adding pressure in terms of water availability. Despite this scenario, efforts have been made at all levels. Discover in this publication the work on research and technology to improve water management and use in Latin America and the Caribbean, how progress has been made in the recovery of techniques, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what countries can do to adopt them. This publication is aimed primarily at technicians and decision-makers who have an impact on public policies, strategic plans and management, as well as all those who interact in water resource management.
  • The UNESCO Courier • July-September 2018.

    Sopova, Jasmina; Markelova, Katerina; Xiaorong, Chen; Ibrahimova, Malahat; Barrak, Anissa; Min, Sun; Sidhva, Shiraz; Meyran, Régis; Yartseva, Marina; Juez, Beatriz; et al. (UNESCOParis, France, 2018)
    There have been spectacular advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years, leading to inventions that we had never thought possible. Computers and robots now have the capacity to learn how to improve their own work, and even make decisions – this is done through an algorithm, of course, and without individual consciousness. All the same, we must not fail to ask some questions. Can a machine think? Towards a global code of ethics for artificial intelligence research © Evgenija Demnievska ( What is an AI capable of at this stage of its evolution? To what degree is it autonomous? Where does that leave human decision-making? More than ushering in a Fourth Industrial Revolution, AI is provoking a cultural revolution. It is undeniably destined to transform our future, but we don’t know exactly how, yet. This is why it inspires both fascination and fear. In this issue, the Courier presents its investigation to the reader, elaborating on several aspects of this cutting-edge technology at the frontiers of computer science, engineering and philosophy. It sets the record straight on a number of points along the way. Because, let’s be clear – as things stand, the AI cannot think. And we are very far from being able to download all the components of a human being into a computer! A robot obeys a set of routines that allows it to interact with us humans, but outside the very precise framework within which it is supposed to interact, it cannot forge a genuine social relationship. Even so, some of AI’s applications are already questionable – data collection that intrudes on privacy, facial recognition algorithms that are supposed to identify hostile behaviour or are imbued with racial prejudice, military drones and autonomous lethal weapons, etc. The ethical problems that AI raises – and will undoubtedly continue to raise tomorrow, with greater gravity – are numerous. While research is moving full speed ahead on the technical side of AI, not much headway has been made on the ethical front. Though many researchers have expressed concern about this, and some countries are starting to give it serious thought, there is no legal framework to guide future research on ethics on a global scale. “It is our responsibility to lead a universal and enlightened debate in order to enter this new era with our eyes wide open, without sacrificing our values, and to make it possible to establish a common global foundation of ethical principles,” says Director- General Audrey Azoulay, of UNESCO’s role, in this issue of the Courier (see pp. 37-39). An international regulatory instrument is essential for the responsible development of AI, a task that UNESCO is in the process of undertaking. The Courier lends this initiative its support, by exploring different avenues of thought on the subject.
  • Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS): sound scientific ocean management and conservation starts with comprehensive biodiversity and biogeographic data.

    OBIS secretariat IOC Project Office for IODE (UNESCO-IOC-IODEOstend, Belgium, 2021)
    OBIS in a nutshell Accessible high-quality data on ocean biodiversity and biogeography is key to an information-driven approach to restore our ocean and curb future degradation. Following from the to date largest effort to decrypt the mysteries of our ocean – the Census of Marine Life - the Ocean Biodiversity Information system (OBIS) was created to collate existing and manage new information on the diversity, abundance and distribution of marine life. OBIS goes beyond traditional data archives. In addition to making an integrated product of the archived data, OBIS trains and educates its members and collaborators to collect and standardise marine data in a way that makes the data findable, accessible, interoperable and easily reusable by others. The OBIS database captures the full spectrum of marine diversity both in the types organisms and data, such as abundance, habitat, or even genetic. In providing open-access data, OBIS removes barriers of historic inequality and fosters fair access to and benefit-sharing of information. It is a community built on the culture of collaboration and the plurality of perspectives and ideas of its network. Ultimately, by sharing expertise and data, OBIS is shaping the design and delivery of data-driven ocean knowledge to promote nature-based solutions contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
  • Climate change and marine spatial planning: policy brief.

    Vassilopoulou, Vassiliki; Mahadeo, Sarah; Khalil, Aya; Pastor Reyes, Ingrid; Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOCParis, France, 2021)
    As a changing climate alters ocean conditions, the redistribution of marine ecosystem services and benefits will affect maritime activities and societal value chains. While the magnitude of the effects will be diverse and region-specific and vary across sectors, both humans and nature will be subjected to increasing and intense negative impacts. Furthermore, the impacts of a changing climate on maritime economies are yet largely unknown and there are uncertainties and limitations of climate and ocean management options, which are at a very early or experimental stage. Significant gaps in technical, institutional and financial capacities for climate change adaptation between developed and developing countries exist, pointing to an imbalanced response to the global climate crisis. Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is being developed and implemented worldwide as a way to foster sustainable ocean use and management. The spatial and temporal distribution of human uses in marine spaces through MSP aims to minimise conflicts and promote synergies among uses, as well as between uses and the environment. In addition to the many environmental and socio-economic challenges which MSP seeks to address, a changing climate must now be included. Mainstreaming climate change into MSP will allow for improved preparedness and response, as well as reduced vulnerability of marine systems. “Climate-smart MSP” refers to planning initiatives in the ocean space which integrate and may adapt to the effects of a changing climate. For MSP to become “climate-smart”, data and knowledge on the pathways through which climate change impacts marine ecosystems and human uses are needed at appropriate spatial scales. These should address the inherent uncertainties in planning scenarios themselves with regard to climate change, particularly in relation to their ability to adapt to changing ocean conditions. In this regard, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) will play a key role, as one of its main objectives is filling the significant remaining gaps in marine knowledge, including the effects of climate change. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other spatial marine management tools can also be used to promote specific adaptation-relevant features, while climate literacy can help build capacities and facilitate behavioural change to better cope with climate-related challenges. Increasing the knowledge base on the impacts of a changing climate is necessary. This includes building evidence on the uses most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and integrating their possible spatial relocation in MSP; knowledge on conservation priority species and keystone ecosystem components and including them in impact analysis assessments to promote their sustainability and resilience; and an understanding of the social and economic implications of climate change, particularly in communities highly dependent on marine resources for their livelihoods. It is also necessary to raise awareness on the effects of a changing climate on marine ecosystems and maritime activities, and fostering new behaviours and social norms in local communities to improve knowledge and skills on opportunities for sustainable mitigation and adaptation options, for enhancing climate literacy and promoting sustainable actions at the local level. This involves integrating strategic climate objectives into overall sustainable development and environmental policies using climate-smart, nature-inclusive MSP as a common framework for setting up meaningful and effective actions across regions, which may be achieved through establishing interdisciplinary MSP networks. Practical adaptation and mitigation strategies at appropriate scales, using fit-for-purpose, spatially explicit and operationally mature nature-based solutions, as well as strategic investments to achieve long-term visions reflected in climate-smart, nature-inclusive spatial plans, are also required.
  • Synthesis report and recommendations: strengthening collaboration between Asian and African UNESCO category-2 centres and chairs for upscaling water security to meet local, regional and global challenges.

    Camkin, Jeff; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in Jakarta. (UNESCO Office in JakartaJakarta, Indonesia, 2017)
    Freshwater is a key resource for human health, prosperity and security. It is essential for poverty eradication, gender equality, food security and the preservation of ecosystems. Yet billions of people worldwide are confronted with serious freshwater challenges, from water scarcity, to poor quality, lack of sanitation facilities, and water-related disasters such as floods and droughts. In July 201 0 the UN General Assembly declared access to c lean water and sanitation a human right, but lack of access to drinking water of adequate quality and quantity remains one of the largest human health problems globally. Human activity has become the major driver of the earth biosphere: the deterioration of water quality, overexploitation of surface freshwater resources and groundwater, hydrological hazards and sectorial management all pose a risk to human health as well as economic and social development. This also affects the functioning of ecosystems and their ability to provide goods and services on which human well-being depends. Increase in land development has the potential to increase the volume of stormwater hence runoff that can contribute to drainage and flooding problems. Water security, the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water related risks, is rapidly declining in many parts of the world. Population growth and rapid urbanisation are intensifying pressure on water resources in many regions, with the higher level of local water demand leading to in creasing water scarcity and stress. A wealthier, more populated and climate-variable world is rapidly becoming a more ‘water insecure’ world. Sustainable water solutions, whether at the local, regional or global level, require creativity, new advances in scientific knowledge, discoveries and innovations through strong scientific cooperation. Innovation geared to wards sustainable development has the potential to lift economic growth, create green jobs, and boost inclusive social development while at the same time contributing to water protection and conservation. Providing solutions to the current global water challenges require upscaling of existing local approaches and knowledge of the interrelations between environmental conditions and the state of water resources as well as instruments and techniques for water management at local, national and regional levels. Since July 2014 the UNESCO Jakarta Regional Sciences Bureau for Asia and the Pacific has been implementing the project “Upscaling water security to meet local, regional, and global challenges”, financially assisted by Malaysia Funds-in-Trust. The Project aims to provide solutions to current global water challenges that require the upscaling of existing local approaches, and knowledge of the interrelations between environmental conditions and the state of waters, by: 1. Providing innovative storm water an d water quality management technologies, best management practices and policy options to counter negative effects of urbanisation; 2. Promoting and enhancing Ecohydrology and HELP approaches, knowledge and implementation on the ground; 3. Creating a platform for the collaboration and exchange of scientific, technical and policy relevant information through collaboration between Asian and African category-2 water centres. As the project is ending in December 2017, a synthesis report is required to link all activities and outputs in one document. This synthesis of 11 key project outputs addressing research, education and water management aims to capture how Ecohydrology and HELP approaches have been demonstrated, showcased and upscaled in water management in Asia and the Pacific, as well as Africa. It also shows how collaborations have been strengthened to support, design and implement Ecohydrology and HELP strategies and policies, and makes recommendations for further strengthening of that collaboration.
  • Aqua-LAC, Volume 10, No. 2, 2018

    Pizarro, Roberto; Doria, Miguel; UNESCO Office Montevideo and Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Edificio Mercosur for UNESCO-Programa Hidrológico Internacional Oficina Regional de Ciencia para América Latina y el Caribe.Montevideo, Uruguay, 2018)
    The International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO for Latin America and the Caribbean (IHP-LAC) and the UNESCO water family, which includes the chairs and centers under the auspices of UNESCO, have provided an important contribution for the preservation and the conservation of water resources, both in quantity and quality, for the current and future generations. Since 2009, the Aqua-LAC Scientific Journal is an example of excellence in the provision of knowledge and quality information for experts and decision-makers, providing the dissemination of important multidisciplinary results, derived from complex scientific research developed by specialists from various nations and areas of action. Among the diversity of water related topics, there is an incentive to use innovative technologies and an integrated and adequate management of these resources, which are essential for our existence, as well as the important clarification about legal aspects and the search for alternatives to guarantee water security. In this context, this number of Aqua-LAC, edited by the International Hydroinformatics Center (CIH), takes us on a journey through the “Latin American and Caribbean water integration” through scientific articles produced by specialists and based on essential activities developed and/or promoted in our region. One of the subjects portrayed, refers to the importance of the Guaraní Aquifer, the largest transboundary aquifer in the world with its waters distributed by a population of more than 90 million people, in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. There is a great need to understand how these resources can be used and managed in a sustainable manner, so as not to negatively impact quality of life and the survival of the future generations. The other articles covered in this issue focus on water resources management, drought modeling, seawater desalination and groundwater quality. Water is heterogeneously distributed worldwide, alternating in small distances between waste and scarcity. The consequences of this imbalance can be catastrophic, with the occurrence of extreme events such as floods, droughts and hurricanes that, often cause deaths, environmental and economic damage. This situation would dangerous if it were not for the current risk management programs and projects. At the International Hydroinformatics Center, we experience in practice a great example of how technology can help territorial management. The CIH Geographic Information Platform facilitates access to geographic information among collaborators and other interested parties in the management of water resources in the area of influence of Itaipu Binacional and the River Plate Basin. The platform has 14 categories: agriculture and livestock, water, environment, biota, registration, land cover, economy, elevation, structure, geo-science, limits, location, society and transport. This tool allows the deploy of special data infrastructure using a friendly and modern interface through the Internet. It is free open source software, an essential feature for replicability in other locations. The democratization of access to information provides a relevant contribution towards a more sustainable future. For these purposes, we wish this issue has a wide dissemination among researchers and society in general.
  • The Large Marine Ecosystem Approach: an Engine for Achieving SDG 14.

    Henshaw, Taylor; GEF LME:LEARN (UNESCOParis, France, 2017)
    A combination of anthropogenic and natural pressures is impacting the health and productivity of LMEs, compromising the sustainability of LME ecosystem services. These pressures are accelerating, and without concerted action their impacts could become irreversible.
  • Ocean Data and Information System- Concept paper summary.

    Spears, Tobias; Simpson, Pauline; Chandler, Cyndy; Michida, Yutaka; Pissierssens, Peter (UNESCO-IOCParis, France, 2017)
    This paper summarizes IOC document IOC/IODE-XXIV/6.2.1 (Ocean Data and Information System – Concept Paper), describing a recommended strategy to move towards the implementation of a universal marine data and information system in response to the 2016 external audit of the IOC and its activities. After considering the observations presented in the audit, identifying the root causes which have contributed to the current state of the marine data and information systems landscape, it is recommended that the IOC work with existing stakeholders, linked and not linked to the IOC, to improve the accessibility and interoperability of existing data and information, and to contribute to the development of a global ocean data and information system, to be referred to as the Ocean Data and Information System in this document, leveraging established solutions.
  • Underwater cultural heritage (UCH) related legislation and programme review in the five countries in Micronesia. Final Report 3 December 2018

    Forrest, Craig; Jeffery, Bill (UNESCOMatautu-Uta, Samoa, 2018)
    Under the overall goal to enhance the capacity for the UCH safeguarding, the objectives of this consultancy are to support the national process towards ratification (or implementation) of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001 (UCH Convention) by developing recommendations based on analysis on the two aspects; i) UCH-related policies/laws/legislation and ii) UCH-related programmes/initiatives, in the five states (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau and Republic of the Marshall Islands) in Micronesia. The Assignment involves the following; • To map the current UCH-related policies/laws/legislation in the five states in Micronesia; • To map the current UCH safeguarding programme/projects both in the public and civil society sectors in the five countries in Micronesia; • To identify gaps to be addressed in order to strengthen the UCH safeguarding for sustainable development and to join (or implement) the UCH Convention; and • To provide recommendations as a way forward. In drafting the report, the following consideration were taken into account: • The diversity of types of UCH that exist in the countries concerned and their tangible and intangible aspects; • The policies/laws/legislation and Programmes/Initiatives pertaining to UCH safeguarding for sustainable development beyond the culture/heritage sector (eg. fishery, education, ocean transportation, environment, tourism, customs, climate change, etc.) • The programmes/initiatives both in the government and civil society sectors; • Linkage of UCH safeguarding to national sustainable development plan.

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