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Name United Nations University
Logo Image:Unulogo.jpg
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus Expertise Knowledge generation and transfer.
Contact E-mail: contact@inweh.unu.edu
URL http://www.unu.edu/

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UN-Water Partners: AquaFed | The Global Compact | GWP | IAH | IAHS | ICID | IWA | IWMI | PSI | RAMSAR | SIWI | UNSGAB | WSSCC | WBCSD | IUCN | World Water Council | WWF
UN-Water Task Forces on WaterWiki: UN-Water Country-level Coordination TF
Key UN-Water Reports: Water Monitoring (Monitoring Task Force report - Aug 08) | UN-Water/reports
Related WaterWiki-resources: UN World Water Development Report | Water Monitoring
Key External Links: About UN-Water | About WWAP | World Water Development Report (WWDR)



In its unique position as the only university in the United Nations system, UNU undertakes a wide range of knowledge generation, knowledge transfer, and knowledge application/management activities: basic and applied research, foresight and policy studies, capacity development, networking/collaboration with external partners, and dissemination and outreach. The University functions as a decentralized "network of networks" with a truly interdisciplinary and global perspective. The UNU system comprises the UNU Centre in Tokyo and a worldwide network of Research and Training Centres and Programmes assisted by numerous associated and cooperating institutions.

Essentially, the UNU has 4 key roles:

  • An international community of scholars
  • A bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community
  • A think-tank for the United Nations system
  • A builder of capacities, particularly in developing countries

Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme

The Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) Programme is an organizational unit of the UNU system. It is one of UNU's two academic programme areas and aims to contribute to global environmental challenges. Activities are undertaken on a project basis and are mainly implemented by Programme Officers and other staff. Interactions between human activities and the natural environment and their implications for sustainable human development are the predominant focus, and the basic issues of human survival, development and welfare are at the core of the themes covered. In implementing its activities, the ESD Programme makes special efforts to include global perspectives as well as from the countries with economies in transition. ESD Thematic areas include;

  • Management of Fragile Ecosystems,
  • Water Crises,
  • Sustainable Urbanization,
  • Environmental Governance and Information,
  • Holistic View of Environmental Transitions.

The UNU International Network on Water, Environment and Health

The UNU International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is a member of the U.N. University family of organisations. UNU-INWEH’s programme is designed to provide applied science and capacity-building initiatives that enable water managers to better address both the root causes and current manifestations of the global water crisis. It was created by the UNU Governing Council in 1996 to strengthen water management capacity, particularly of developing countries, and to provide on-the-ground project support. Its core funding is provided by the Government of Canada,and it is hosted by the McMaster University, Canada. UNU-INWEH activities serve two core functions:

  • Capacity Development- strengthening of scientific, managerial, educational and institutional capacity to enhance Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) implementation in developing countries.
  • Directed Science & Policy Bridging - conducting applied research to fill critical knowledge gaps and deriving water policy and governance innovations from the resultant knowledge. This function is intimately linked to and helps to inform the capacity-development function of UNU-INWEH.

The mission of UNU is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States. In fulfilling this mission, UNU fosters intellectual cooperation among scholars, scientists, and practitioners worldwide — especially those in the developing world — and functions as:

  • an international community of scholars;
  • a bridge between the United Nations and the international academic community;
  • a think-tank for the United Nations system;
  • a builder of capacity, particularly in developing countries; and
  • a platform for dialogue and new and creative ideas

The mission of the the ESD programme is to contribute to global environmental challenges.

The mission of UNU-INWEH is to contribute, through capacity development and directed research, to efforts to resolve pressing global water problems that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States and their Peoples.

Key Resources

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented UNU-Publications

UN Water Virtual Learning Centre (WVLC)

Source:UNU website
  • The UN Virtual Water Learning Centre - was developed through a joint collaboration between UNU/INWEH and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). This initiative provides distance learning opportunities and information on best water management practices for developing countries. The intent of the WVLC Program is to provide adult (remedial) training in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), through a core curriculum in distance learning.


Source:UNU website
  • Safe Water as the Key to Global Health (2008) - This report is one step in an on-going dialogue on finding effective ways to move towards UNU-INWEH's ultimate goal - the provision of safe water and adequate sanitation to every woman, man and child on this earth. The report presents a series of ideas to help bring about the necessary changes in thinking, and the urgency to respond, so that the global water crisis is driven home.
  • Managing Water in Diverse Ecosystems - This compilation of papers is derived from an International Workshop co-hosted by the United Nations University’s International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and UNESCO-MAB-IHP in June, 2005. The topic addressed by the workshop was: “Water and Ecosystems: Water Resources Management in Diverse Ecosystems and Providing for Human Needs”.
  • Stemming Decline of the Coastal Ocean: Rethinking Environmental Management - This document provides a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue on coastal management, including recent publications by FAO on fisheries and UNEP on coastal pollution. The dialogue is enriched by ongoing scientific research by our partners. The report reinforces the fact that there is a need to rethink the management approaches to stem the decline of precious coastal ecosystems. With all the necessary tools and resources at our disposal today, we have no excuse for inaction.
  • UNU-INWEH Brochure (2005)

Click Here for all Environment and Sustainable Development-related UNU publications.

Click Here for ALL UNU publications.

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Work on the Ground


(1) Setting up of distributed hydrological models in selected watersheds incorporating reservoir operations and other water management options;
(2) Coupling to short and long term climatic forecasts to develop appropriate policy scenarios; and
(3) Dissemination over the internet, targeting practitioners and policy makers.

Project implementation has begun in 4 Asian countries with educational and governmental partner institutions, building on past work and existing networks and supported by different partnerships as below.

  • The Lake Twinning Project (2008) - is a GEF funded project, and implemented by five lake commissions, all with similar mandates. The project aims to facilitate policy, legal and institutional reform for transboundary waters management (quantity and quality); enhance regional and national knowledge and capacity for the management and planning of shared water resource systems; and strengthen planning processes in shared water resources management, facilitating self-sustaining regional water institutions in Africa.
  • Small-Scale Wastewater Treatment in Palestine (completed 2006) - The project included the establishment of a national Rural Environment Protection Committee. The committee comprised rural beneficiaries, related NGOs, scientific organizations, and Palestinian ministries. The committee provided recommendations to stakeholders and monitored outcomes of the project. Based on an integrated assessment of the wastewater treatment options, four small-scale wastewater treatment plants were constructed in schools.

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See also

External Resources


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