UNESCO UAlg Chair

What is a UNESCO chair (the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme)

Launched in 1992, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work.

The Programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence – i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

Through this network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies. In many instances, the Networks and Chairs serve as think tanks and as bridge builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making. They have proven useful in informing policy decisions, establishing new teaching initiatives, generating innovation through research and contributing to the enrichment of existing university programmes while promoting cultural diversity. In areas suffering from a dearth of expertise, Chairs and Networks have evolved into poles of excellence and innovation at the regional or sub-regional levels. They also contribute to strengthening North-South-South cooperation.
(http://en.unesco.org/unitwin-unesco-chairs-programme)

UNESCO Chair in Ecohydrology: water for ecosystems and societies and UN programmes

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. Since its inception in 1975, IHP has evolved from an internationally coordinated hydrological research programme into an encompassing, holistic programme to facilitate education and capacity building, and enhance water resources management and governance (http://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/hydrology).

Water resources are under increasingly severe pressure from climate change and other global drivers. Climate change alters rainfall patterns, soil moisture, humidity, glacier-mass balance and river flow, and also causes changes to underground water sources. At the same time, floods or droughts are rising in frequency and intensity. The impact on ecosystems and societies needs to be addressed and adaptive management solutions need to be proposed, accepted and implemented at the highest governance levels. This requires education for scientific innovation, transference of knowledge and creation of sustainable management practices. 

The UNESCO Chair in Ecohydrology: water for ecosystems and societies links with the UNESCO IHP strategic Programme for the VIII Phase “Water Security: Responses to Local, Regional, and Global Challenges”, particularly with the Theme 5: “Ecohydrology, engineering harmony for a sustainable world”, one of the six main themes approved by the 193 countries, at the General Conference.

(http://en.unesco.org/themes/water-security/hydrology/IHP-VIII-water-security)

Moreover, the UNESCO chair at University of Algarve also addresses several goals of the UN 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development (mainly 6 and 6.1) but many others, as water is transversal for human life and societal development.

Ecohydrology: a new vision for aquatic ecosystem restoration and management

Traditional approaches to water management consider the hydrologic factors as responsible for triggering ecological responses. Management of aquatic ecosystems was “one-way”, focusing the role of hydrology on biota. Ecohydrology establishes a new paradigm for aquatic ecosystems management since it considers the dual regulation between hydrology and biota. Thus, applying this concept at the river basin scale it is possible to restore the evolutionary established processes of aquatic ecosystems. This will increase or reinstate the carrying capacity of ecosystems, allowing them to be sustainable and adaptable to increasing impacts, as the ones resulting from global changes.

Objectives of the UNESCO Chair in Ecohydrology: water for ecosystems and societies

The main aim of the chair is to “Promote the scientific development, education and dissemination of Ecohydrology concept, at national (and international levels, according to the aims established by UNESCO IHP, EH programme and UN SDGs”.

The specific aims are:

  1. To constitute a platform among universities, research centres, networks and organizations dealing with water issues, to promote the design of EH education programs;
  2. To foster the transdisciplinar scientific cooperation in the topic of Ecohydrology, addressing the different regional realities and;
  3. To facilitate the dissemination of water related topics in general and EH knowledge and concept, in particular, to the society.

UNESCO Chair partners

Universities:

  • Region I - Western European and North American States - 4
  • Region II - Eastern European States- 1
  • Region III - Latin-American and Caribbean States - 3
  • Group IV - Asian and Pacific States - 4
  • Group V a - African States - 2
  • Group V b - Arab States – 2

International networks: 2

Activities

>> Organization of “special session on Ecohydrology” at the  Water African Week, July 2016, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

>> Participation at the First UNESCO water chairs meeting, Perugia Universitá per Stragnieri, Ocotber 2016, Italy

>> Course on “Ecohydrology perspectives”, at the Ains Shams University, October 2016, Egypt

>> Signing of the Agreement with National UNESCO Commission and the Portuguese UNESCO Chairs, Ocotber 2016

>> Participation on Ecohydrology for Africa Symposium, Addis Ababa, November 21016, Ethiopia

>> Signinig MoU with Sokoine University from Tanzania

>> Development of the Erasmus Mundus GoWater proposal

>> Organization of the international conference “Ecohydrology for security of ecosystems and societies”, Univ Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Brazil (ehconferencebrazil.com)Declaration here

>> International Ecohydrology master course

>> Ecohydrology course (with UNESCO and World Water Assessment programme), June 2017

Contacts:

UNESCO Chair team:
Prof Manuela Moreira da silva
Prof. Flávio Martins
Prof Duarte Duarte
Prof José Paulo Monteiro
Prof. Luis Chícharo (Chair coordinator)
Email: ecohydunescochair@ualg.pt
Phone: +351 289 800 972