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The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education will be established in Delft, The Netherlands. This was decided today at the 31st General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Paris. The existing International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE), based in Delft, will be owned by all 188 Member States of UNESCO. With this decision, knowledge on water management will become more accessible to those of the developing world, in particular because water will become one of the main political issues of the next century.
Since 1957 IHE has been providing postgraduate education and training in the fields of water and environment. The institute has contributed to knowledge development through research for the benefit of the developing world. Since its establishment IHE has trained more than 12,000 engineers from 120 countries. Clean drinking water, irrigation, wastewater treatment, water and environmental management are themes explored by engineers from all regions of the world during their training in Delft.
UNESCO's Member States have responded positively to the proposal of the Dutch to give IHE Delft an international mandate. The Dutch Government has committed itself to provide a basic contribution of USD 8 million per year to the new institute.
Although the institute will be based in Delft, it will continue its support to strengthening local capacity of knowledge institutions, especially in the developing world. It will remain its links with the World Water Council and the Global Water Partnership and other international organisations. This will satisfy the increasing demand for knowledge in water and environmental management in many countries. To strengthen the co-operation between knowledge institutions from 'North' and 'South', the Dutch Government has pledged an extra USD 5 million for the next five years.
With this extra contribution UNESCO-IHE will be able to connect itself more firmly to its partner institutions in developing countries. One way of doing this is to establish electronic distance learning systems to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in knowledge sharing and transfer.
The UNESCO-IHE will form the main international reference body for education, training and capacity building in water issues. It will facilitate intellectual leadership for water and environment education.