INTEGRATED INFORMATION MANAGEMENT BACKGROUND PAPER FOR THE HARARE EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON STRATEGIC APPROACHES TO FRESHWATER MANAGEMENT Harare, Zimbabwe 27 to 30 January, 1998 by Denis A. Davis, Canada ----- INTEGRATED INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Abstract: Decision making related to complex issues such as meeting increasing demand for water and food, allocating water between competing users, and ensuring sustainability of freshwater ecosystems in the face of human pressures requires an integrated information management system. For maximum benefit the system must integrate data and knowledge about natural resources, and environmental and socio-economic components so that all these factors can be appropriately weighed and considered in the decision-making process. There are barriers to overcome. Often the data or information is collected by a wide range of government and private sector agencies to different standards and scales. Data and information gaps are numerous. It can be a formidable task to assemble the information, ensure the standards are compatible, ensure that key stakeholders have access to the information and create a new corporate culture of sharing information between agencies. However the tools to do so are available, and combined with willingness and creativity, the information management system needed by decision-makers and the public can be developed at relatively modest cost compared to the value of the resources being managed. The paper outlines the benefits of an integrated information management system, the requirements for successful implementation, the impediments, and actions for governments and international organizations to consider. Acknowledgement: The following agencies or groups provided comments, ideas and input to the report and their contributions are gratefully recognized. The World Meteorological Organization, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Global Runoff Data Centre, GEMS/Water, UNESCO, the Advisory Working Group of the WMOțs Commission for Hydrology and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences. 1.0 PURPOSES AND BENEFITS 1.1 Background 1.1.1 A number of international conferences and activities have highlighted the difficulties that countries face, particularly developing countries, in continuing to meet the rising demand for clean fresh water as populations rise, per-capita consumption rates increase, industrialization and food security require ever increasing amounts of water, and pollution reduces the available supply. The findings of the "Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World", submitted to the fifth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the Special Session of the General Assembly in 1997, highlights the problems. The Assessment confirms the view that in many parts of the world the current patterns in the development and use of freshwater resources are not sustainable from either an economic, social or environmental perspective. 1.1.2 These concerns are not new. As far back as the United Nations Water Conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1977 the key future issues were identified. Numerous international conferences, notably the International Conference on Water and the Environment held in Dublin, Ireland and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, both in 1992, and the Ministerial Conference on Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation in Noordwijk, Netherlands in 1994 have assisted in refining the problems and have proposed actions. Both the Mar del Plata and Dublin Conferences identified the inadequacy of the knowledge base for decision-making. Similarly the conclusions and policy options of the Comprehensive Assessment indicated that access to reliable data is presently inadequate. The programme for the further implementation of Agenda 21, adopted at the special session of the General Assembly in June 1997, assigns "high priority, in accordance with specific national needs and conditions, to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated watershed management...". It also calls for the strengthening of "-the capability of Governments and international institutions to collect and manage information, including scientific, social and environmental data, in order to facilitate the integrated assessment and management of water resources, and foster regional and international cooperation for information dissemination and exchange through cooperative approaches among United Nations institutions". 1.1.3 Why integrated information management systems - what are the benefits? Simply put, the more vulnerable the resource the greater the need for both precision and timeliness in decision-making. Particularly when water is a limiting resource to economic development it is absolutely necessary to have information that is integrated across sectors and includes the social-economic dimensions. Day-to-day operations and responses to natural disasters such as floods and droughts benefit from having "real time" data available and an ability to draw information from a variety of sources quickly, which an integrated information management system can do. The information system is in many ways the tip of the knowledge pyramid and represents a small part of the information collection cost, and a very small fraction of the cost of water projects or value of the decisions made. 1.1.4 Figure 1 illustrates the "Information Cycle". The utilization of data for water management purposes helps to define future information needs and the strategies needed to collect new or additional data. This additional data can then be used to improve assessments, or improve the precision of information used for water management decisions. Applied properly, the cycle should never end: the use to which the information is put continuing to refine the need for data to be collected, and the better supply of data improving the decisions making process. Integrated information management systems deal primarily with the data utilization, data analysis, and information utilization components of the cycle. Figure 1 - The Information Cycle [ not available ] 1.2 Making Integrated Information Part of the Decision-Making Process 1.2.1 The major challenge is to integrate decision-making across all the related sectors. Integrated information management can be a useful tool in this regard by providing information in a form useful for evaluating alternatives and making decisions. However it is not enough having the information available, it must become an ingrained part of long term financial and economic planning and reach the decision-makers before irreversible decisions are made. 1.2.2 Public input is a key component of decision-making. There should also be an opportunity for public input, not only at the decision- making stage but earlier in the process when alternatives are being considered and linkages are being made. The public perception of water in terms of cultural values, rather than strictly as an economic resource, needs to be considered and built into the evaluation and decision-making process. As an example the view in some cultures that water is a gift of God may mitigate against classic user-pay and cost- recovery approaches to conserve the water resource. 1.2.3 Information management systems can be particularly useful in support of decisions related to the rapidly growing mega-cities. Large urban centres, and their associated rapidly expanding peri-urban areas, are often a hot spot in terms of growing water demand, groundwater over utilization, pollution and other environmental problems. In such cases the integration of information can be expanded to include the areas impacted upon downstream, and reach upstream to include the water and other resources for which there is potential competition or conflict. The large city may be the ideal place to initiate integrated information systems and expanded information networks because of the need for rapid decision-making and the existing capabilities to make the system work. 2.0 ALTERNATE MODELS/OPTIONS 2.1 Building an Integrated Information System 2.1.1 An integrated information system is essentially a means of communication between providers of data and information, and the users of that information. Since not all needs can be predicted, all potential users defined or even the continuation of the current organizational structure ensured, it is important to develop a system that is flexible, easily upgraded and matches the infrastructure and staff capabilities of the country. There tend to be two basic approaches to information management. The centralized approach is to establish a system whereby one agency is given the mandate to collect data and information from many sources and is the custodian of a centralized database. This central agency may also be involved in, or responsible for, integrating the information and developing alternatives and options for decision-makers to consider. Generally the database and integrated information is made accessible to the providers of the information and other user groups. 2.1.2 The second approach is the distributed nodes non-hierarchical information network. Each node provides a gateway to the other nodes and provides data and information, or receives information products for use. It probably works most efficiently when there are assigned sectoral nodes that in themselves have responsibility to assemble information from multiple sources, provide quality control on data received and set standards for data collection and archiving. This approach has a high degree of flexibility and may not require changes to existing organizations, other than improving data management systems, the communications between agencies and developing the capabilities of staff. The node approach is useful for highlighting what information other organizations are collecting and creating co-operation between centres in seeking out missing data. 2.1.3 An example of a distributed non-hierarchical information network which might be used for water resources assessment is shown in Figure 2. For a particular application, such as evaluation of various conservation and development options to meet growing demand, a central agency within a country would be tasked with leadership of the information integration and development of options for consideration by decision-makers. Information would then flow between nodes for that purpose. A local or basin level environmental assessment would require different information sets, and perhaps would be led by a different organization. The distributed information network could be established at the local level in the case of a large city, at the provincial or state level, at the basin level or the national level. Figure 2 - Distributed Information Networks [ not available ] 2.1.4 In the lower portion of Figure 2 the example of a water quantity node is used to demonstrate converging fluxes of information. The node would be tasked with the responsibility of developing database standards, the collection of water quantity data and related informati on from all major sources, and providing quality control on data maintained on the database. It would also normally make interpreted information available to others, in the form needed by an individual user. The water quantity node could also serve as a gateway to the Global Runoff Data Centre at the international level (See Section 6.2), a river basin authority at the transboundary level, and regional organizations in which the national government has membership. The information could also be available on an open network basis to local basin authorities, the public and other interest groups if desired. 2.1.5 Leading edge database management and integrative decision support system software are now readily available. The World Wide Web can provide the communication connections at reasonable cost, both internally and externally to an organization or information network. The hardest part of establishing any information system is identifying what information is actually required and what the basic functionality and structure of the database will be. Once that has been established the specific formats, data combinations and graphics that decision-makers or operational managers use can be easily incorporated. 2.2 Responding to Natural Disasters 2.2.1 The implementation of integrated information management systems and real-time data observation and reporting systems can make an important contribution to pro-active and anticipatory response strategies to natural disasters. Not only can critical data and information be made available quickly for decision-making but there is a greater potential to forecast future problems and difficulties. Particularly for natural disasters such as droughts, or snowmelt floods, there is the opportunity to forecast the onset of conditions in advance and begin to take preparatory actions for response. 2.2.2 Meteorological long-term forecasting, and climatological forecasting associated with events such as El Nin~o, can be linked to flow forecasting models to determine the hydrological response to such events. This coupling of hydrological and atmospheric information through an information management system can improve the understanding of both local and global hydrological processes and increase confidence in predicting the effects of climate change. The output from the hydrological models can have large economic payoffs in terms of saving lives and improving economic conditions by developing appropriate response strategies. 3.0 REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION 3.1 General Observations 3.1.1 The systems used for the management of integrated information must be suitable to the conditions in the country. There may be limitations in terms of available infrastructure and the level of skills which are required to maintain and operate such systems. For example the use of the Internet for communications and distributed information systems may not be possible if the phone system is rudimentary and subject to breakdown. 3.1.2 Countries in which the economy is sensitive to hydrological events need more elaborate information management systems that can consider "real-time" data and integrate it in a way to be responsive to ongoing circumstances and forecasts of future events. Because of the spatial nature of some information it may become necessary to consider the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for storage, display and overlaying of environmental and land use information. Consideration should also be given to the integration of satellite and radar data into integrated information systems. Use of Doppler radar data is becoming increasingly common in runoff forecasting models. Satellite technology is becoming a useful operational tool for parameters such as soil moisture, surface temperature, area flooded and the detection of oil or chemical spills. The implementation of decision support systems to better utilize the information is also recommended. 3.1.3 The primary focus when introducing improvements to integrated information systems should be on maximizing the use of existing databases, identifying users and their specific needs, and tailoring the system so that it is flexible enough to integrate information from a large number of sectors in different ways. Once a system is operative, then the focus can be on identifying and filling data gaps, implementing institutional change to make the system more user oriented and adjusting observational networks to be more responsive to operational and management needs. 3.1.4 The priority of national and international efforts for improvement of the management of integrated information should be focused on developing countries with increasing water stress. These countries are identified in the "-Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World" as those low-income countries with medium to high water withdrawal rates compared to water availability. 3.2 Introducing New Approaches to Information Management 3.2.1 Integrated information management systems need to be holistic in their approach. The full range of water/land/and air parameters need to be linked to corresponding socio-economic and environmental data on critical habitats, endangered species, the health of the aquatic environment and fisheries. Integrated information management is only a tool, but an important one, to move toward sustainable development. 3.2.2 Information systems need to be dynamic rather than static. In particular the capability to move toward "real-time" data collection and use of that information for operational purposes should be incorporated. It is also necessary to have a system that in many ways can be self- learning so that new information can be used to quickly update previous evaluations. There should also be a constant feedback loop between the use of the information and the database itself, so that new types of analysis can be conducted and new forms of data collected and archived. 3.2.3 As described in Section 6.0 below, a number of nodes for information already exist at the international level. This information base was helpful in preparing the "Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World". Global priorities and lending institution strategies are developed using such information, and are supported by governments responding to Ministerial Conferences or UN activities. There are still significant information gaps to be filled, however, and countries could contribute to the broader global information base through the wider implementation of information management systems at the national level. This would facilitate the timeliness of the receipt of the information at the international level and would allow quicker turnaround of information products. 3.3 Linking Observational Networks to Management Requirements 3.3.1 The introduction of integrated information management systems provides a strong impetuous to reshape, restructure and improve observational networks. This is particularly true for that portion of the network that directly serves management needs. The feedback from the use of the information can result in efficiencies in data observation, and may generate significant benefits to operations and management that are difficult to define in advance. There will still continue to be a need for multi-purpose observational networks which are able to define the state of the resource in qualitative terms without a specific user identified for each site. The importance of this component of the total network becomes more evident when attempts are made to generate atlas type representations or regional norms, which well may be the case when information is integrated at the basin or planning unit level. 3.3.2 Unfortunately, it is hard to convince many decision-makers that such an expense is justified. Elemental logic would argue that it is sensible to spend several percent of the budget allocated to the construction of water resource projects on information functions that will ensure that the best possible decisions are made. Few countries do so. Therefore, there is real value in studies that establish costs and benefits of observational networks and information management systems. What studies are available often demonstrate benefit/cost ratios in the 3:1 to 5:1 range, and up to 16:1 for flood forecasting. An Australian example of better management achieved by automation of irrigation control structures indicated that the value of the water saved in just one year was greater than the cost of the automation. 3.3.3 There is also a need in many countries, including developing countries and economies in transition, to consider cost recovery for observational information used for management purposes. This approach helps to develop a client relationship between data collection and data use agencies and make the data collection agency more responsive to changing needs. There are pitfalls to this approach as not all information, necessary for long-term planning and management, may have an immediate client. As an example design of a dam spillway or power plant output requires long term information on river discharge (50 years or more is preferable). Yet the benefits of reduced spillway costs or the installation of the optimum number of generating units are not realized until after the dam is built. Brazil has developed a novel approach to funding basic information needs by allocating a small percentage of the charge to hydropower entities for use of the water resource to these functions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Case Study - Water Quality Network An example of the redesign and modernization of a water quality network in response to an evaluation of management needs is Mexico. The observational programme included 564 surface water stations and 239 groundwater stations that had no overall strategic design, had major data gaps, was unrepresentative of key areas and was not being analysed for parameters such as persistent organic pollutants needed to address current issues. As a result of the optimization a primary network of some 200 stations was established to characterize important water bodies. A flexible secondary network was designed to focus on effluent discharge regulatory issues, special surveys in support of river basin planning and issue-oriented specific requirements. The new programme moves away for the traditional and expensive chemical parameter list and moves toward more innovative use of toxicity-based measures, screening techniques and new and more efficient measures of diagnosing and describing water quality. A mobile emergency capability in case of spills or natural disasters was also added. The end result is a much more responsive information base without major increases in cost. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3.4 Integrating Land, Water and other Information 3.4.1 Integrated decision-making requires a broad information base, with the specific parameters or information sets varying dependent on the application. As an example, typical parameters used for a water resources assessment could include: Hydrometeorological: precipitation, evaporation Hydrological: water levels, river flow, reservoir storage, sediment loading, water quality, biological data Land: soil type, land classification and use, hectares irrigated, crop types, livestock numbers, elevation, basin drainage, basin slope Social: population, population density, age distribution, growth rates, percentage of population served by water supply and sewage, political boundaries, housing stock Economic: per capita income, family income, employment rates, sectoral contributions to economy, GNP, growth rates Environmental: sensitive habitats, degraded environments, fisheries and natural resources, endangered species, trends in water quality and other indicators Health: epidemiological data Other: water availability, water supply distribution, diversions, water use by sector, water demand by sector The list is meant to be only illustrative, but it does indicate the breadth and types of information needed. No single agency or source can provide all of the information so there is a need for some form of integrated management system. There is also a need to integrate information at different scales (local, regional, national, multi- country to international) dependent on the nature of the decisions to be made. 3.4.2 There is a need to differentiate between "data" and "information". Data come from variables measured and recorded in a database. Parameters are derived from the measured variables. Information is an evaluation of parameters provided in a form that has meaning for decision-making or management purposes. Generally the inputs to integrated information management are not "data", but rather a group of information sets. The linkage between data and decision- making is described in Figure 3. Figure 3 - Information Hierarchy [ not available ] 3.4.3 As can be seen from Figure 3 there are more inputs to decision making than the integrated information itself. Decision makers must also consider factors such as the views of the public, prevailing cultural perceptions and values, national priorities and local, regional and national political realities. To the degree possible, integrated information must be sensitive to these factors and array information and decision alternatives in a manner that can reflect them. 3.5 Closing Data and Information Gaps 3.5.1 Experience in the integration of resource related information for water resources assessment has resulted in identification of information or data deficiencies that are relatively common, especially in the developing countries. Reliable water use information is difficult to obtain for all sectors. Groundwater is often the forgotten resource and insufficient information is available on its quantity, quality and use. Water quality information on land based pollution is often scanty, and does not include monitoring of persistent organic pollutants which may impact on human health and the aquatic environment. Basic hydrological information is often not available to the degree that rational decisions on alternatives can be made in countries experiencing water scarcity, particularly if the country is partially reliant on external sources of water. 3.5.2 The use of integrated information management systems often identifies errors or inconsistencies between databases. For example, one of the better quality checks on hydrological data is to model a flood event using data from several sources, or several jurisdictions. Questionable or missing data are soon identified. The greater the number of uses to which databases are put, the better the understanding of the information needs for the future. 3.5.3 A number of methods exist for evaluating the adequacy of the database. The simplest approach is reference to standard guidelines or comparisons to the network densities of countries or regions in similar circumstances. If there is a rudimentary network in place then more elaborate tools exist for an evaluation. Such evaluations must be user oriented so as to determine, not only the parameters needed, but also the format and timeliness of greatest value to decision-making. For hydrological parameters, guidance on the size and type of observational networks, or network analysis procedures, is readily available from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and a number of national hydrological services. 3.6 Developing Mutually Beneficial Partnerships 3.6.1 The presence of integrated management systems within a country opens up the opportunity for external partnerships with basin commissions, regional entities and the broader international community. Particularly if a country is dependent on external sources of water as part of a transboundary basin, there are significant benefits to having communication links to parallel information sources in the other countries under the auspices of a basin commission. In this case the basin commission often acts as the information hub and central data bank, but is equally accessible to all parties. The basin commission is often tasked with providing an evaluation on an integrated information basis which may include environmental assessments and development alternatives for major projects. It can also serve as a source of technical expertise and exchange. Similar statements can be made about regional entities, which often represent countries with common problems and interests. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Case Study - Rhine River Basin With a catchment of 180,000 square km and a length of 1,320 km the Rhine River is one of Europe's most important rivers. As a shipping route it is the busiest in the world. The basin embraces parts of a number of countries, most notably Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and human influence on water quality and quantity is considerable. There is also the potential for major flood damage and pollution spills. Over the years the countries have established six international commissions or associations to deal with hydrology, protection of the Rhine and its major tributaries and Lake Constance, water treatment, and navigation. Information is shared freely and integrated into studies of benefit to all parties to the agreements. Of particular significance is the Rhine Alarm System which includes a system for forecasting the transport of dissolved or suspended material in the Rhine and is used in times of accidental spills on a real-time shared information basis. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 4.0 IMPEDIMENTS 4.1.1 Even the best information management systems produce data and information containing errors and bias. Because of climate change, land use change and other factors, we can no longer depend wholly on past trends to predict the future. This must be recogonized and when in doubt the precautionary principle used in decision-making. 4.1.2 There may also be major limitations as to what hardware, software and communications can be used due to infrastructure limitations. If the basic phone system is not up to international standards, then, for example, the Internet cannot be used as the communications tool between nodes. Central databases become more attractive under such circumstances. 4.1.3 There are often scale and other factors that make integration of natural resource information with socio-economic information difficult at the local level. Hydrological information is often collected on a river basin basis, and land use information is available in a wide variety of map scales. Socio-economic data is usually collected using political boundaries. These difficulties should be regarded as challenges to overcome, rather than a reason not to integrate the information for decision-making purposes. 4.1.4 Certain adjustments to organizational and administrative frameworks may become necessary to implement integrated information management. This may result in the need for legislative and policy changes. A move to a centralized database and integration of information from many sources would most likely require major organizational changes and even the creation of new agencies or institutions. On the other hand, a non-hierarchical distributed information network will require the identification of node points within agencies and a requirement that data observation agencies supply data to those nodes. Additional protocols may be required which define data standards, quality control and archiving requirements. 4.1.5 Communication policies may need to be reviewed and revised. A nodal distributed information system works best when information can move freely in a lateral direction as well as up and down. Communication policies within agencies may take a hierarchical approach whereby information between agencies generally moves across only at the highest levels. This is an inefficient approach for sharing of information at the "working" level. As a result, policies and even long standing practices may need to change or be modified. A movement to more open information policies, particularly as they relate to public and external agencies, may be required. WMO is working, in consultation with UNESCO and the non-governmental community, to develop a draft policy on the exchange of hydrological information which may be useful to consider in this context. 5.0 EVALUATION OF THE CURRENT SITUATION 5.1 Adequacy of the Database 5.1.1 Integrated information is only as good as the database feeding it. In the case of hydrological and meteorological information the size of the observation networks for precipitation, discharge, water quality, evaporation, groundwater and water level are inventoried at the national level in the INFOHYDRO database of WMO. 5.1.2 In 1991 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and WMO carried out an evaluation of water resources assessment capabilities within the various UN Regions. That evaluation concluded that countries had responded well in the late seventies to the call by the Mar del Plata Conference to develop and strengthen their water resource assessment programmes. Additions were made to hydrological data networks, instrumentation was upgraded, investments were made in data processing systems, and staff capabilities were improved. However this trend has reversed in recent years due to economic difficulties and reduced budget allocations. For example the number of operating rain gauges, recording rain gauges and hydrometric gauges in Albania have decreased to approximately 50% of the number operating in 1990. 5.2 Water Resources Assessment Capability 5.2.1 The lack of capability in 1991 was particularly evident in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia. In general these are the same areas where water scarcity is the greatest and the capability to carry out water resource assessments is most critical to economic prosperity. The report also indicated that, where the capability to carry out water resource assessments was poor, the ability to integrate and manage information was also poor. 5.2.2 In view of the importance of water resource assessments for economic development, many bilateral donors and aid agencies have provided invaluable support to developing countries in an effort to maintain or rebuild their capabilities in this regard. Such aid has provided funds for equipment and training, but the weakest point has often been the inability or lack of appreciation of the need for continuous long-term funding for these activities so as to ensure their maintenance once external support has terminated. 5.2.3 One pre-request for planning and funding such activities is a clear and comprehensive definition of what facilities, staff and other resources are required. For this purpose, WMO and UNESCO have produced guidance for use by countries under the title "Water Resources Assessment - Handbook for Review of National Capabilities". 5.3 Capacity to integrate information 5.3.1 Many developed countries possess the capacity to integrate the necessary information. A few notable examples are the use of the OECD "Pressure-State-Response" model of environmental reporting which provides an explicit framework for decision making; the integrated information management system developed at the national level in Finland; and the state of environment reporting by the Netherlands. However the experience of senior government officials would indicate that these evaluations have not necessarily been built into the decision-making process to their maximum potential. There is still a tendency, even in developed countries, not to link integrated resource, environmental and socio-economic information into long term economic and financial planning. 6.0 EXISTING GLOBAL INITIATIVES 6.1 National and Global Information Linkages 6.1.1 A number of nodes for water-related information already exist at the international level. Some are described below. Ideally a national, regional or basin node for similar sectoral information could serve as a gateway for the flow of information to international nodes. This would facilitate the timeliness of the receipt of information at the international level and would allow for quicker turnaround of information products back to the national node levels. There would be benefits both ways in terms of exchange of analytical tools, development of new integrated products and the capacity building of integrated information technology and decision support systems. 6.1.2 Discussions are currently underway between the agencies overseeing these international information nodes with a view to increasing their coordination, establishing more direct links between them, integrating to the extent possible and in general making them more accessible and responsive to potential users. 6.2 Global Runoff Data Centre 6.2.1 The Global Data Runoff Centre (GRDC), established in 1988, operates under the auspices of WMO and is supported by, and located in, the Federal Institute of Hydrology in Koblenz, Germany. The principal objective of the Centre is to facilitate and optimize the information exchange of streamflow data world wide. The GRDC database contains contributions from over 140 countries, and includes the data for 3200 hydrometric gauging stations located in 2900 river basins. The quality and reliability of the contributed data is verified before entry into the database. The GRDC has the capability to provide interpreted hydrological information and does so for many organizations, such as those of the UN system, and for research projects (www.wmo.ch/web/homs/grdchome.html). 6.3 GEMS/Water 6.3.1 The GEMS family of programmes, part of the United Nations Earthwatch Programme, is organized by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Begun in 1977 GEMS/Water is implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) in co-operation with WMO and UNESCO. It is an international co-operative programme now involving 56 countries that voluntarily submit data from their national surface and groundwater quality monitoring activities to the Global Data Centre. GEMS/Water also provides technical assistance, carries out training in water quality monitoring and assessment, performs inter-laboratory comparison exercises and provides training and standardized computer software. Since 1990 the Programme has moved into enhanced data assessment and capacity building, and has worked with many national and international institutions and donor agencies to foster progress in water quality monitoring and assessment <http://cs715.cciw.ca/gems/>. 6.4 Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data 6.4.1 The Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data (FRIEND) is a research project structured on a regional basis under the International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO. The focus of the activity is an international collaborative study of regional hydrology. As such it contains information from smaller basins and experimental watersheds which may not be found in other databases. Since its inception in northern Europe in 1985 it has expanded to include six major international groups world-wide with approximately 75 participating countries. The database is not directly available to external users, other than the contributing countries, but publications based on the FRIEND information are available: <www.pangea.org/orgs/unesco/Friendsub.html> <www.nwl.ac.uk/ih/prototype/research/availabl.html> 6.5 Aquastat 6.5.1 The Aquastat programme was launched by FAO in 1993 with a view to better assessing the situation of water use in agriculture. It focuses on irrigation and drainage, and on water balances. One of the main objectives of the programme is to better assess the state of water use for agriculture, as well as the potential for future food production. Meant to collect information at country and lower level, the programme was quickly faced with the scarcity of reliable information on water use (mostly in agriculture) and the lack of integration of water information. Emphasis is now put on integration of water resources and withdrawal through geographic information systems. From a simple data collection initiative, the programme has evolved towards more capacity building activities through training seminars and national or regional rural water information management projects: <www.fao.org/ag/agl/aglw/aquastat/aquast1e.htm> 6.6 Global Precipitation Climatology Centre 6.6.1 The Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC) is a component of the Global Climatology Project of WMO and integrated into the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX). The GPCC was established in 1988 under the auspices of the National Meteorological Service of Germany and became fully operational in 1995. The Centre collects precipitation gauge data from around the world, applies quality control to the data, makes corrections, and produces monthly precipitation means on a grid of 2.5 degrees by 2.5 degrees latitude and longitude. The information is based on data from approximately 6,000 stations located in more than 130 countries. The database has recently been expanded to 40,000 stations to achieve a real means at a grid density of 0.5 degrees. The GPCC is not authorized to disseminate data received from individual countries. However, the derived gridded data products are freely available (www.dwd.de/research/gpcc). 6.7 World Hydrological Cycle Observing System 6.7.1 The World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS), launched in 1993 by WMO with support of the World Bank, is designed to provide reliable, consistent and easily accessible hydrological information on key river systems around the world. WHYCOS is being developed in the form of regional components (HYCOS's) within a framework of common guidelines and standards, but designed to meet regional priorities defined by the countries within the region. The data from each site is transmitted in real-time through the Global Telecommunications System of WMO to both national and regional databases. The programme is also designed to strengthen the technical and institutional capacities of national hydrological services to meet the needs of end users, including integrated information related to status of water resources, trends and risks. WHYCOS is in the early implementation stages but should provide a source of high quality data on the hydrologic cycle for use at the national, regional and international level in the future (www.wmo.ch/web/homs/whycos.html). 7.0 ACTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION 1. Water scarce developing countries must act now to develop integrated water resource management decision-making capabilities so that the negative socio-economic and financial impacts of sector by sector decision making can be reduced. In support of integrated decision-making and a move to sustainable development there need to be integrated information management systems and adequate observational networks in place. 2. All countries are urged to evaluate periodically their data collection and information management systems to ensure they meet management and decision-making requirements, are cost effective and user oriented. In some cases this may require changes to institutional, legislative and policy structures. 3. Developed countries, international organizations, and aid agencies may be asked to assist in the transfer of information management technology, decision support systems and network evaluation tools, and in general assist in associated capacity building in developing countries and economies in transition. 4. UN Agencies, through the vehicle of the ACC Steering Committee on Water Resources, may be charged with developing the framework for an international level integrated information system that can build on existing initiatives such as GRDC, GEMS/Water and Aquastat. In particular, the initiative should include the addition of water use, socio-economic, environmental and health data. Governments are urged to support such initiatives directly and host nodal components for which their agencies have particular expertize. As an example, consideration could be given to a common node for water availability and water use. 5. Governments are also urged to facilitate the international exchange of water-related data as a basis for improved management of shared water resources and to permit international studies of resource availability and scientific research into climate variability and change. 6. Strong support from national governments and funding institutions is needed for international initiatives such as WHYCOS which are designed to improve the availability of basin information that is needed for integrated decision-making. 7. UN Agencies, assisted by various partners, should periodically conduct comprehensive assessments of freshwater, agricultural lands and other natural resources. These assessments would give visibility to critical problems and assist in setting priorities for the global community. References 1. UN ECOSOC, Economic Commission for Europe, Committee on Environmental Policy, Working Party on Water Problems. 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Arriens, Wouter L., Bird, Jeremy.,Berkoff, Jeremy., Mosley, Paul, Toward Effective Water Policy in the Asian and Pacific Region, Theme Paper and Comments, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines, 10-14 May 1996. 7. Arriens, Wouter L., Bird,Jeremy.,Berkoff, Jeremy., Mosley, Paul, Toward Effective Water Policy in the Asian and Pacific Region, Country Papers, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines, 10-14 May 1996. 8. Arriens, Wouter L., Bird,Jeremy.,Berkoff, Jeremy., Mosley, Paul, Toward Effective Water Policy in the Asian and Pacific Region, Overview of Issues and Recommendations, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines, 10-14 May 1996. 9. UN FAO, Water Resources Management in Africa - Compilation and Analysis of Activities of the United Nations Organizations. ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources, Prepared by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, July 1996. 10. Najlis, Pierre., Kuylenstierna, Johan L., Twenty Years After Mar del Plata - Where Do We Stand and Where Do We Go? Mar Del Plata Anniversary Seminar, Stockholm, 16 August 1997. 11. Klohn, Wulf., Appelgren, Bo, Water and Food Security. Mar del Plata 20 year Anniversary Seminar, Stockholm, 16 August 1997. 12. Perks, A., Winkler, T., Stewart, B., The Adequacy of Hydrological Networks: A Global Assessment. World Meteorological Organization, Technical Reports in Hydrology and Water Resources, WMO/TD - No. 740, 1996. 13. UN, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Activities of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia in the Area of Water Resources, Prepared for the Third Session of the Committee on Natural Resources, 6-17 May, 1996. 14. UN ECOSOC, Activities of the Economic Commission for Europe in the Area of Water Resources, Prepared for the Third Session of the Committee on Natural Resources, 6-17 May 1996. 15. UN ECOSOC, Freshwater Resources in Asia and the Pacific, Prepared for the Third Session of the Committee of Natural Resources, 6-17 May 1996. 16. UN ECOSOC, Freshwater Resources, Prepared for the Second Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, 16-27 May 1994. 17. WMO/UNESCO, Report on Water Resources Assessment, Progress in the Implementation of the Mar del Plata Action Plan and a Strategy for the 1990s, 1991. 18. UN/Stockholm Environment Institute, Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World, Published by the World Meteorological Organization, 1997. 19. WMO/UNESCO, Water Resources Assessment - Handbook for Review of National Capabilities, June 1997. 20. Kundzewicz, Z. W., Kraemer, D., Striving Towards Assessment of Mountain Water Resources, World Meteorological Organization - Hydrology and Water Resources Programme Internal Document,1997. 21. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Indicators of Sustainable Development - Framework and Methodologies, 1996. 22. UICN, Population Reference Bureau, Lțeau - et la dynamique demographique, Rapport sur lținitiative collaborative et lțatelier organise a lțoccasion du Congres mondial de lțUICN a Montreal (Canada) en octobre 1996. 23. European Commission, The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Sustainable Development. Brussels, 1997. 24. Postel, Sandra, Dividing the Waters: Food Security, Ecosystem Health, and the New Politics of Scarcity, World Watch Paper, September 1996. 25. WMO, Guide to Hydrological Practices - Data Acquisition and Processing, Analysis, Forecasting and other Applications, 5th Edition, WMO-No. 168, 1994. 26. Natural Resources Forum, A United Nations Journal, Volume 21, Number 3, ISSN 0165-0203, August 1997. 27. ICOLD. Position Paper on Dams and Environment, ICOLD, May 1997. 28. Serageldin, Dr. Ismail, Will there be enough water for all mankind in the twenty-first century? Speech delivered at Water Futures conference sponsored by Green Cross International and The State of Geneva, 1997. 29. WHO, WSSCC, UNICEF, Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Report - Sector status as of 31 December 1994, Prepared by World Health Organization, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and United Nations Childrențs Fund, WHO/EOS/96.15, 1996. 30. Hall, Alan J., Large-Scale Hydrological Studies, Contained in World Meteorological Organization, Commission for Hydrology, Working Group on Applications, First Session, Geneva, 17-21 November 1997, Document HCAP-1/WP, 7, 11 November 1997. 31. WMO, Seventh Planning Meeting on World Climate Programme - Water. Final Report, WCASP - 45, WMO/TD-No. 854, Geneva, October 1997.
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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30