UNESCO-WCRP Invited Workshop on Applicability of Climate Research and Information for Water Resource Management in Semi-Arid and Arid Regions
Sponsored by UNESCO World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)
18-21 April 2005
Cairo , Egypt
GEWEX Water Resources Applications Project (WRAP; Lawrence Martz, co-chair)
UNESCO-IHP Cairo Office (Radwan Al-Weshah, co-chair)
Various programs (GEWEX, CLIVAR, CliC) under the auspices of World Climate Research Program (WCRP), have been engaged for several decades in the coordination of research related to the study of earth climate system. At the same time, a number of programs of UNESCO and WMO have been placing their emphasis on introducing improved, modeling, observation and decision tools for improved water resources management world-wide, including the arid and semi-arid regions.
The relationship between the earth climate system and the hydrology and water resources issues of arid and semi-arid regions of the world is an issue of particular interest to the decision makers and stakeholders of many nations. With the projected population growth in the semi-arid regions and increasing demand for adequate water resources, it is fair to question if our current state of knowledge about the functioning of the climate system has reached the level of maturity to provide some valuable information useful for water resources management purposes.
Objectives of the Workshop
- Bring together operational hydrology and water management stakeholders
- arid/semi-arid regions of north Africa and the Middle East with hydro
- engaged in observation, modeling and analysis;
- Articulate regional water issues and examine current state of knowledge
- system relevant to water management in arid/semi-arid regions;
- Identify gaps in understanding, data availability and regional capacity;
- Provide feedback to WCRP, UNESCO and their several programs.
The workshop was organized around presentations by stakeholders and researchers and included opportunities for dialogue and discussion. Presentations from the stakeholder community focused on the nature of water resources and operational hydrologic issues (current and emerging) of the semi-arid areas, including requirements for hydrometeorologic and hydroclimatic information. Presentations from the hydroclimate research community focused on the current state of observations and on modeling related to climate and hydrology of semi-arid areas. The presentations can be grouped into three broad categories:
- Overviews of various programs coordinated by WCRP and UNESCO, with, on the WCRP side, participation from G. Sommeria, T. Palmer, L. Martz, E. Todini, A. Pietroniro, T. Maurer, E. Douglas, B. Imam and G. Woodard.
- Reviews of hydroclimatological data products and modeling achievements, including activities undertaken under the G-WADI initiative
- Presentations on the major water issues in the region including representatives from Lebanon, Jordan , Sudan, Syria, UAE, Egypt, and Iran.
Interspersed between the various formal presentations were a series of discussion sessions intended facilitate discussion among the participants. These culminated in a plenary discussion at the end of the program that aimed to provide an overall synthesis of the workshop. This plenary discussion session concluded that most issues could be grouped into five major needs:
- To increase awareness of the significance of climate change and variability in water resource planning and management across the region.
- To improve sharing of hydroclimatological data across various national and intranational jurisdictions.
- To access and develop tools to bring global and regional data into a form suitable to support decision-making.
- To apply climate forecasts and data products to specific water management and planning issues.
- To improve the interface between regional institutions and the international community, in order to enhance the regional capacity to address the above issues.
The highest priority item for action recommended by the workshop participants was the formation of a regional network of professional and academic scientists. Existing institutional capacity within the region should be used as far as possible to develop and support such a network and UNESCO was identified as having a lead role in this regard. The initial tasks of the network would be to:
- Inventory expertise within the region
- Inventory of hydroclimatological observation sites across the region
- Examine the feasibility of developing a reference site under the CEOP program
- Develop a proposal for a demonstration project that applies GEWEX/CLIVAR data products or models to the solution of a specific water management issue.