IHP in Asia and the Pacific

Maintaining frequent contact between countries of the region and carrying out IHP activities at regional level requires appropriate co-ordination mechanisms. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific, regional cooperation is made easier through the IHP Regional Steering Committee (RSC), whose members are representatives from the 17 IHP National Committees mentioned above. Since 1993, annual RSC meetings have been convened in different countries of the region to report, evaluate and review various activities carried out within the framework of IHP, as well as to design new ones; in conjunction with the RSC meetings, annual international conferences and symposia have been held. The Japanese Government has strongly supported these important activities by providing through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science (MEXT), a Funds-in-Trust contribution on a regular basis.

In co-operation with UNESCO Jakarta and the participating member states, the RSC has co-ordinated a wide range of initiatives over ten years so far, including research studies, technical projects, workshops, training courses and annual symposia, bringing together many specialists involved in water related activities. The most notable regional initiatives made possible by the co-operative efforts of the RSC are: the AP-FRIEND (Asian Pacific Flow Regimes from International and Experimental Network Data) project, the Asian Pacific Water Archive and the Catalogue of Rivers.

  • As a cross-cutting programme component HELP (Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy) aims to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to stakeholders through research towards the sustainable and appropriate use of water. This is accomplished by deploying hydrological science in support of improved integrated catchments management. This includes improving the complex relationships between hydrological processes, water resources management, ecology, socio-economics and policy-making. The ultimate goal of the programme is to help scientists and stakeholders break through the traditional paradigm lock that separates them from integrated solutions.

    UNESCO Office Jakarta together with UNESCO Office Apia and Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has been promoting HELP in Asia and the Pacific by carrying out Niue’s Groundwater Resource Monitoring and Management Programme.

    The programme was initiated in 2005 through a UNESCO Participation Program (PP) Grant for the development of a groundwater resources assessment and monitoring programme. In 2005 the PP Grant was used to fund the purchase of some monitoring equipment and an in-country mission by a consultant to complete an initial hydrogeological investigation. This work to date has been valuable as a first step towards establishing a groundwater monitoring programme for Niue, enabling initial estimates of the sustainable yield of the freshwater lens, its vulnerability to drought and to contamination from land surface activities. However there is a need to improve the understanding of groundwater resources on the island, specifically to determine groundwater flow directions to enable the estimation of the catchment areas of the public water supply boreholes, which can then be used to define protection areas or other planning approaches to protect the public water supply boreholes.

    Based upon previous works, in 2007 we stepped further by reviewing Niue’s current water regulations to explains the need for comprehensive water resource legislation in Niue. The action was then followed by preparing an amended draft Water Resources Act and Water Resources Regulation in consultation with Government of Niue (GoN) as well as indentifying the impediment for approval. The draft of Water Resources Act and Water Resources Regulation was then submitted to GoN and Crown Law office for review and endorsement.


    The Ecohydrology Proramme (EHP) has been formulated as a key theme of the Seventh Phase (2008-2013) of the International Hydrological Programme’s (IHP) action oriented and policy relevant knowledge generation, sharing and technical capacity building. This theme is contributing to a better understanding of water as both an abiotic resource and as a service delivered by ecosystems. The EHP aims to exemplify trans-disciplinary, cost-effective solutions to water related issues in a variety of ecosystems and climatic zones.

    The aims of the programme are to: advance the integration of social, ecological and hydrological research; and generate outcomes that enable the development of effective policies and practices.

    • Enhance the designation of water both as an anti biotic resource and as a service, delivered by ecosystem processes; identify, quantify and improve the critical linkages for environmental sustainability.
    • Ecological and hydrological understanding can be used to enhance the overall integrity of ecosystems by a process of dual regulaton.
    • Dual regulation is a two way process whereby established nutriment cycling, fluvial and energy flow, modify biota and biota sumiltaneously regulate flows.
    • Integration of socioeconomic and cultural considerations into the process will enhance the dynamic relationships between hydrological, social and ecological systems.
    The ecohydrology theory is based upon the assumption that sustainable water resources management can be achieved by:

    • Reversing degradation and regulation the evolutionarily-established processes of water and nutrient circulation and energy flows at a catchment scale;
    • Enhancing the carrying capacity of ecosystems against human impact (resilience, robustness, biodiversity, ecosystem services) for societies;
    • Using the water biota interplay as water management tools.

  • AP-FRIEND, launched in 1997, is a regional component of FRIEND (Flow Regimes from International and Experimental Network Data), a global crosscutting IHP project aimed at advancing technical knowledge and research in the field of hydrology.

    It is coordinated by the IHP Regional Steering Committee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with financial support provided by UNESCO Regular Budget and by a Trust Fund to UNESCO from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japanese Government and UNESCO Jakarta.

    The First Phase of APFRIEND (1997 – 2001) was carried out to improve the understanding of hydrological science and water resources management in the region through comparative studies of the similarity and variability of the regional hydrological occurrences and water resource systems. With the great efforts from nearly 200 scientists in 5 working groups, significant achievements have been obtained for the phase I of the Asian Pacific FRIEND during the past several years and summarized in the Asian Pacific FRIEND Report for Phase 1 (1997-2001), published in 2002 (IHP V – Technical document in Hydrology No. 9, Regional Steering Committee for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Jakarta Office 2002).

    In the initial stage of AP-FRIEND Phase 2, two surveys were carried out by IHP National Committees in 2002 and 2003 to investigate the critical issues of IHP VI for AP-FRIEND to focus on. It was found that issues involving extreme rainfall events and the resulting flooding in both rural and urban areas were the primary concern of most countries. The next concern was the investigations of low flows (including droughts). In particular, as rainfall is an essential input to high flow, low flow and drought analysis and a priority in many countries, it was proposed that activities within these themes initially be focused on rainfall, specifically in terms of a) what data are available in countries, b) how accessible is the data for research within each country, c) how accessible is the data for research outside the country, d) availability and origin of design rainfall guidelines/standards in countries and e) investigate development of regionally consistent rainfall design techniques and guidelines.

    In order to progress with the phase 2 plan, each country provided input on availability of data both within and between the countries, the source organizations and finally the design guidelines/standards and analysis techniques used by the same countries.

    The activities carried out and results obtained in the initial stage of the Asia Pacific FRIEND phase 2, were presented at the “Intensity Frequency Duration and Flood Frequencies Determination Meeting” held in the Regional Humid Tropic Hydrology and Water Resources Centre for Southeast Asia and the Pacific (HTC) in Kuala Lumpur, 6 and 7 June 2005.

    During the AP FRIEND Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in June 2005, attended by country representatives from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines and Vietnam, it was discussed that the different participating countries employed different methods of analysis their Rainfall Intensity-Duration-Frequency (RIDF) curves. Thus, during this workshop, it was decided that a worthwhile undertaking the group would be to learn from the various participating countries how they RIDF are conducted. At the end of the workshop, the different country representatives were asked to supply extreme rainfall data from their own countries to be sent to everyone so that a comparison of the various methods used in RIDF analysis and subsequently estimating design rainfalls could be made by individuals from participating countries. As results, report on “Rainfall Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) Analysis for the Asia Pacific Region” was published in November 2008. This report was presented in AP FRIEND Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in March 2009. Please click here to download this report.

    Since water and associated ecosystems has become a principal priority for UNESCO, the establishment and operation of network of centers and chairs has proven to be an excellent delivery mechanism for IHP activites.

    In Asia and the Pacific, UNESCO Water Family includes the following:

    14 UNESCO Field Offices

    UNESCO Offices in Almaty, Apia, Bangkok, Beijing, Dhaka, Hanoi, Islamabad, Jakarta, Kabul, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Tashkent and Tehran.

    7 water-related UNESCO Category II Centres

    Currently there are seven UNESCO’s water-related Category II Centres in Asia and the Pacific and more are being proposed. These centres serve a specific purpose within the fields of competence of UNESCO-IHP and are principally programme-driven, respond to both global and field-based needs are part of an operational network.

    • Asia Pacific Centre for Ecohydrology (APCE) in Indonesia
    • Humid Tropics Centre Kuala Lumpur (HTC KL) in Malaysia
    • International Research and Training Centre on Erosion and Sedimentation (IRTCES) in China
    • International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) in Japan
    • International Centre on Qanats & Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) in Yazd, Iran
    • Regional Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM) in Tehran, Iran
    • International Centre for Water Security and Sustainable Management (i-WSSM) in Republic of Korea

    6 water-related UNESCO Chairs

    Water-related UNESCO Chairs promote cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. These chairs serve as think tanks and as bridge builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making as well as they also contribute to strengthening North-South-South cooperation.

    • UNESCO Chair in Hydroinformatics for Ecohydrology, China
    • UNESCO Chair in Community Education for Mountain Conservation and Watershed Management, Pakistan
    • UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance, Australia
    • UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Groundwater Management, Japan and Mongolia
    • UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Water Management, China
    • UNESCO Chair on Knowledge Systems for Integrated Water Resources Management, Pakistan

    As a science and education programme, IHP in Asia and the Pacific with the support of key partners, covers a wide spectrum of programmes and initiatives. UNESCO Office, Jakarta considers regional and local networks as an added value for the implementation of its water’s activites and as an essential for sharing regional knowledge with the global agendas and for improving North-South and South-South collaboration.