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.
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.
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:
- To constitute a platform among universities, research centres, networks and organizations dealing with water issues, to promote the design of EH education programs;
- To foster the transdisciplinar scientific cooperation in the topic of Ecohydrology, addressing the different regional realities and;
- To facilitate the dissemination of water related topics in general and EH knowledge and concept, in particular, to the society.
Contribution to Open Science Global Project
Open Science describes the on-going transitions in the way research is performed, researchers collaborate, knowledge is shared, and science is organised. It represents an approach to research that is collaborative, transparent and accessible (https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience). The UNESCO Chair of the University of Algarve aims to contribute to the open science global project by providing access to major bibliographic and data repositories, on the topic of water sciences. With such objective we are suggesting the following links, as good examples of open science repositories.
1 - International Hydrological Programme’s Water Information Network System:
2 - Repositório UALG :
3 - UNESCO Global Portal :
4 - UNESCO resources:
5 - UNESCO WWAP:
6 – UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)
The UNESCO chair in ECohydrology: water for ecosystems and societies contributes to the achievement of the UN SDGs, as water is a cross cutting theme among all SDGs.
However, more directly, the UUNESCO Chair activities target more intensively the SDG 6: clean water and sanitation; SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities; SDG 13: Climate change; SDG 14: Life below water; SDG 4: Quality education and the SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals.
UNESCO Chair partners
- 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
>> Organization of “special session on Ecohydrology” at the Water African Week, July 2016, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
>> Course on “Ecohydrology perspectives”, at the Ains Shams University, October 2016, Egypt
>> 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
UNESCO Chair team:
Prof Manuela Moreira da silva
Prof. Flávio Martins
Prof Duarte Duarte
Prof José Paulo Monteiro
Prof. Luis Chícharo (Chair coordinator)
Phone: +351 289 800 972