Bonn. - On the occasion of the start of the UN's second International Decade of Action under the slogan "Water for Life", two Bonn-based international research institutes, the Global Water System Project (GWSP) and the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, point out to the role of science and research on water-related issues in achieving the UN's Plan of Action.

Already in its "World Water Development Report", published in 2003 on the occasion of the UN "International Year of Freshwater", a key role for science and knowledge was identified: "There is a lack of indigenous knowledge and expertise relevant to local problems and an equal lack of appropriate research on lower-income country problems. (...) Research on effective institutional structures and management techniques for lower-income countries is badly needed".

"We could never do our work the way we do it, without the involvement of PhD students as well as researchers from West African countries. Thus, building local capacity has become a major goal in our research projects", says Professor Paul Vlek, ZEF's Executive Director and leader of the BMBF funded GLOWA (Global Change in the Hydrological Cycle) Project in the Volta Basin in Ghana and Burkina Faso, two lower-income countries. "Also, the role of local institutions, policy makers, and stakeholders in the decision making process related to water issues is integrated into our research. To be able to do this, a close cooperation with our local partners is indispensable", adds Professor Vlek.

"While local action is needed for solving local water problems, we should not ignore the fact that the world has become so interconnected that water scarcity has become a global issue," remarked Professor Joseph Alcamo, Co-Chair of the Global Water System Project (GWSP). The GWSP is a new major initiative organized by the most important global environmental science organizations aimed at bringing together scientists to study the global aspects of water problems. The International Project Office (IPO) of the GWSP is funded by the BMBF and is located in Bonn.

Alcamo noted, "The water policies of large international organizations have had a direct impact on the levels of water abstraction and water diversions worldwide, and hence on the level of water pollution, hydrologic regimes, and the integrity of aquatic ecosystems." Alcamo called for a worldwide partnership between local citizens, international organizations and the scientific community during the second international water Decade of Action to better understand the global forces that influence local water issues. Alcamo noted, "We need to draw on the most modern tools of science - remote sensing from satellites, scenario analysis, and complex computer models - to analyse the state of the global water system. A worldwide effort is needed to devise strategies such as early warning systems to protect people from droughts, floods, and increasing water pollution in many parts of the world."

 Center for Development Research

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