SA RESOLUTION ON GROUNDWATER ADOPTED BY UNESCO, OCT 2022
SOUTH AFRICA’S RESOLUTION ON GROUNDWATER ADOPTED
BY THE 215th EXECUTIVE BOARD OF UNESCO
The ninth World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal in March 2022 declared 2022 as the international year of groundwater, and the UN-Water 2022 World Water Week Theme was ‘Groundwater: Making the invisible visible’. Moreover, the 2022 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (UN WWDR 2022) describes the challenges and opportunities associated with the development, management, and governance of groundwater across the world.
In line with these, South Africa, led by the Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in collaboration with the Department of Water and Sanitation, tabled a Draft Resolution on Groundwater at the 215th Session of the Executive Board of UNESCO, which took place in October 2022 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The purpose of the draft Resolution was to raise the profile of groundwater at an international level, considering that this resource plays a crucial role in climate change mitigation strategies of a semi-arid and drought prone South Africa.
The Draft Resolution requested the Director-General of UNESCO to:
(a) foster intersectoral cooperation within UNESCO’s various sectors to develop advocacy tools that will enhance awareness and water literacy on groundwater;
(b) mobilize actions towards enhancing capacities, training and awareness raising on groundwater; and
(c) call upon the donor community and the international scientific community to increase investments and studies on groundwater, particularly in Africa, for a better integration of groundwater research activities in climate change and biodiversity studies to inform decision-making in groundwater development.
To this end, the Draft Resolution received an overwhelming support, with more than sixty (60) Member States co-sponsoring it, including the Africa Group and the European Union. It was therefore adopted on 13 October 2022. The adopted Resolution is accessible from the UNESCO website through this link: Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 215th session - UNESCO Digital Library.
The importance of groundwater as a resource was subsequently highlighted at the UN-Water Summit on Groundwater which took place in December 2022. The outcomes of the Summit will culminate in the UN Water Conference to be held in March 2023 in New York, United States of America where the adopted Resolution on Groundwater will also be showcased.
Report by Mr Kwazi Majola