A message from the Director: Two thousand and sixteen was the 20th anniversary year for UNU-INWEH and a year of transition. From my very start as a new Director of the Institute, I was fascinated by the unique nature of this organisation as the UN’s “Think Tank on Water”, the only entirely-water focused Institute in the UNU, and the only water-related UN entity in Canada. I was also impressed by the competence, creativity, commitment and diversity of UNU-INWEH colleagues and by the range of global and regional initiatives the group contributes to.
The world, and the “water world”, changed a lot during 2016, with increasing geopolitical tension, changing funding environment for research, but strong and growing impetus towards a sustainable water future. This impetus was clearly demonstrated during the Budapest Water Summit in November 2016 – the most significant water event of the year, and one in which UNU-INWEH had the honour to participate. Water is and will remain the key factor of sustainable development and a medium through which to achieve it. UNU-INWEH has the name, solid research capital and financial stability that will help to positively influence this process.
It was a vibrant and productive year that saw the start of the UNU-INWEH initiated international consultations on how to accelerate the success of water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level: continuous inputs to UN-Water Task Forces (e.g., on water security) and flagship products (e.g., the forthcoming World Water Development Report on Wastewater); contributions to the development of the Canadian Federal Sustainable Development Policy; and a range of published outputs critically examining issues from sustainability of global seaweed industry and ecosystems services of drylands, to regional water security in Africa and Asia, to multidisciplinary analysis of developmental challenges in several major river basins.
Looking ahead, the overarching context for future UNU-INWEH work will be the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where water is explicit in several SDGs and SDG targets and is implicit in many others. UNU-INWEH’s work will also be shaped by related global processes that influence the water agenda, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. In responding to these global agendas, UNU-INWEH will focus on innovative ways of managing water resources variability, on alleviating the adverse impacts of water-related disasters related to changing climate, and on increasing overall water security of UN member states, particularly in the developing world.
There is a lot to do, and we look confidently into the future.
Dr Vladimir Smakhtin, Director
United Nations University
Institute for Water, Environment and Health