Improving water governance around the world

Professor Tony Jones

Professor Tony Jones

13 February 2014

Professor Tony Jones, Emeritus Professor of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University, has been appointed Chief Assessor for the 7th Phase of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) which aims to improve the management of water and sanitation around the world and help implement the UN Millennium Development Goals on water. 

The IHP is the oldest and most established international water organisation within the UN and specialises in research and development projects related to water management, especially in improving water governance in developing countries. It serves 190 Member States. 

The programme operates in phases of research and capacity building in developing countries on a cycle of 6-year periods. 

Professor Tony Jones explains, “Over the years, IHP has moved on from pure science into improving global water governance, training professionals and addressing social needs, again mainly in developing countries. Every country has a UNESCO Commission and most have an IHP Committee reporting to it. 

“My role is to assess the last phase of the programme and suggest improvements for the next phase which lasts until 2021, including the running of the Secretariat at UNESCO HQ in Paris. 

“There has been a rapid increase in competition over the last decade or so with the proliferation of international organisations concerned with improving the management of water and sanitation around the world. 

“The IHP needs to maintain its comparative advantage and focus on those areas where it works well. As a UN organisation, it has to satisfy the requirements of Member States, which can be very diverse, and bureaucracy can be challenging. One of its most important roles is in conflict resolution. 

“40% of humanity lives in internationally shared river basins, like the Nile. IHP specialises in training scientists to advise governments on the sound and equitable resolution of conflicts over shared water resources.” 

Professor Tony Jones has also enlisted the help of Professor Frank Winde from South Africa. They are both members of the Steering Committee of the International Geographical Union's Commission for Water Sustainability, which Professor Jones chaired from 2002 to 2012. Dr Winde has extensive experience in Africa, which is one of the key regions in dire need of improved water governance. 

Tony Jones has been conducting research into water resources and climate change since 1990, and initiated some of the first research into the effects of global warming on riverflows and water resources in Wales and the UK. 

He is the author of Water Sustainability: a global perspective (Hodder/Routledge, 2010) and edited Sustaining Groundwater Resources: a critical element in the global water crisis (Springer, 2011) for the UN International Year of Planet Earth. 

UNESCO’s action in the field of water resources began in 1965, when it launched the International Hydrological Decade, the first worldwide programme focusing on hydrological studies. In 1975, this pioneer initiative evolved into the current IHP, UNESCO’s intergovernmental scientific co-operative programme in the field of hydrology and water resources management.