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Launch of UNESCO'S Water Information Network System (WINS)
Within the framework of supporting Member States monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) has launched the Water Information Network System (WINS). WINS seeks to provide Member States with a web-based tool for water management and a global reference for the implementation and monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) on water and sanitation. It is the very first platform that provides data on the water cycle in its entirety.
Cutting across all the economic sectors, water can be instrumental in the implementation of integrated solutions. However, water resources are commonly developed and managed by different parts of governments and within different sectors, with little coordination among them and without an overall picture of the state of the resource.
In this regard, IHP-WINS has been developed in a way that it would allow the inclusive participation of a wide range of water stakeholders, i.e. country officials, civil society, international, regional and national institutions, public and private institutions, academia.
By centralizing available data in an accessible, open source platform, it is foreseen that IHP-WINS will be a precious resource for decision makers and stakeholders in the design and support of operations, management, and decision making for sound water resources governance.
An accessible, interactive and user-friendly platform for a wide audience of water-related stakeholders
IHP-WINS consists of three main components providing:
- A Digital geographic data on the state of water resources at the global, regional, national and local level, allowing users to visualize and generate maps,
- A platform for inter-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing among water stakeholders (e.g. databases, reports, graphs, tables, videos, webinars, etc.), and
- A platform to be used by water stakeholders to build networks (i.e. discussion groups).
The platform is gradually building a repository of, and links to, sources of information from other UN organizations, regional organizations, and national institutions, including UNESCO Category 2 Centres and Chairs specialized in water-related issues.
It was highlighted that that the time of easy water is over and there is looming water crises in the world hence the need for a globally consistent systematic database like WINS. Climate patterns have changed with recurring floods and droughts observed in many parts of the world. This affects daily realities in our world.
As the world’s population grows, the demand for water mounts and pressure on finite water resources intensifies. Climate change, which is also closely tied to population growth, will also lead to greater pressures on the availability of water resources. There is therefore need to establish or strengthen mitigation and adaptation strategies.
A major challenge is the capacity to collect data and monitor water resources in many countries especially in Africa. In this regard, it was further noted that sharing of knowledge and information, particularly through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has the power to transform economies and societies.
One of UNESCO’s overarching goals is to build inclusive knowledge societies by harnessing information and communication technologies to maintain, increase and diffuse knowledge in the fields of education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information, including through open access. In the framework of the overarching objective of “building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication”, UNESCO focuses on policy development, capacity building, standard setting, partnerships and collaborations.
A key tool for the monitoring and implementation of SDG 6 on water and sanitation
IHP-WINS is an open access database that seeks to provide support to Member States to build their institutional capacities, human resources and a sound basis in science capacity for the monitoring and implementation of SDG 6 targets and those of other water related goals. It was highlighted that SDG 6 is an important goal that contributes to the other SDGs. Water plays an essential role in our health, economy, food production, and environment.
WINS is therefore a one-stop shop that provides a platform where national institutions can share their SDG 6 monitoring and implementation experiences, IHP-WINS aims to assist Member States in improving their institutional capacities, human resources and to provide a sound basis for science-based decision-making. Lessons learnt can also be shared through the discussion groups.
Founded in 1975, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme is the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, and education and capacity building.