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Key elements of a new UN treaty which will strengthen the public access to information about pollution fell into place as a week of intensive negotiations in Geneva entered their final day. The treaty - which will be a protocol to the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) - will make it easier for the public to find information about pollution and its sources through a mandatory system of reporting by companies.

Read more at http://www.unece.org/press/pr2002/02env12e.htm

Source: UNECE


The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) today (Wednesday 27 November) will launch a summary statement outlining ten recommendations to UK participants of the Third World Water Forum planned for Kyoto, Japan in March 2003.

The recommendations are the outcome of a one day conference held last month at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London which aimed to build on early outcomes of the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development and inform and influence the UK input to the Third World Water Forum. The conference brought together over 200 delegates from business, research, non-governmental and policy-making communities to discuss the UKs role in 2003 - designated UN Year of Freshwater.

Read more at http://www.rgs.org/category.php?Page=15med015

Source: AlphaGalileo


John Wiley & Sons Publishers seeks contributors to its forthcoming four volume International Encyclopedia of Water which contains 14 categories of water related information which include: ground water hydrology, surface water hydrology, agricultural water, municipal water supply, domestic water supply, physics and chemistry of water, oceanography, meteorology, water quality control, waste water treatment, water resource development, water history and water law.

More than 1500 entries are described at the encyclopedia's web site http://www.wileywater.com. Additional entries suggested by contributors are encouraged. Entries may be between 1000 and 4000 words not including illustrations. Contributors receive citation for their work at each entry as well as $100 worth of technical books from the Wiley catalogue.

More information at http://www.wileywater.com <www.wileywater.com>.


Monthly evaporation models, important for water management, can be improved by
studying the dispersion of rain for each month. This is one of the conclusions in the r
esearch project of Marieke de Groen. She will defend her thesis on Monday the 29th
of April. De Groen: "The subject was neglected for a long time. The monthly models
contained formulas from 1948."
Our main source of food the agriculture sector is very dependant on the weather. To
determine whether it is wiser to build a dam, irrigate, or make better use of rainwater,
monthly models are made. Evaporation plays an important part in these models. De
Groen: "If you have 100 mm of rainfall in one month, it could al have fallen on one
day, or maybe during 10 days. This is quite important for plants; after all, you don't
water your own plants only once a month."
In her research, De Groen made a distinction between transpiration and interception.
Transpiration is when water is absorbed by the plant through the roots and then e
vaporates through the leaves. Interception is when part of the rain-water doesn't
reach the ground, but lands on plant leaves and evaporates from there. "Transpiration
causes plants to grow, interception doesn't. That is why the distinction is important,"
says De Groen. "This is also important in climate models. The classical models fall
short on two points: they don't take the dispersion of the rainfall over the month into
account and they don't deal with the difference between transpiration and interception."
De Groen worked at the international hydraulics institute IHE in Delft, which does
research in Zimbabwe.
During her research period in Zimbabwe, she realised that the occurrence of 'rain days' takes place along the lines of the so-called Markov-theory. This means that the probability for rain on a certain day is only dependant on the amount of rain the day before. The theory helped De Groen to create simple monthly models for transpiration and interception. "The classical models simplistically assume that all the rain fell at the beginning of the month and they drastically simplify the relationship between the amount of water in the ground and the amount used by plants," says De Groen, "I will show that you can make better models by using different assumptions, and they apply world-wide."
The method developed by De Groen is especially valuable for water managers and
hydrologists that depend on a limited amount of data in a limited time frame to be
able to make strategic management decisions.

http://www.AlphaGalileo.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=readrelease&ReleaseID=9397 <http://www.alphagalileo.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=readrelease&ReleaseID=9397>


Assessing the health of our rivers and lakes will be easier and much more accurate
from now on - thanks to University of Ulster researchers. Dr Brian Rippey, from the Universities' School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, has come up with a new method of finding out what state Northern Ireland's rivers and lakes are in, which will allow the most accurate ecological assessment to date.
The new method will put Northern Ireland streaks ahead of any other European countries
in working towards the EU Water Framework Directive of 2000, which calls for change
in the way fresh water resources are managed. One of the main aims of the Framework is to improve how rivers and lakes are monitored, there were almost no methods of doing this until now.
Not only will the new method be able to reveal the state of our rivers and lakes here in
Northern Ireland, the same model can be transferred to assess rivers and lakes in the
Republic of Ireland and eventually in other countries as well.
Dr Rippey said: "Previously the only way to assess the state of rivers and lakes was by
measuring the chemical content of water samples, an inaccurate and limited method. This
is an ecological method that takes into account the algae, plants and animals living in the
lakes and rivers, as well as other factors such as setting, size and altitude.
"The final outcome reveals a much more accurate and fuller assessment of the health
of the water, something we have never been able to do before."
"No other country will have as sophisticated methods or accurate results as we will have." "Using the terms of the EU Framework Directive researchers will then be able to
use the results to classify a lake/river as being of good, moderate, poor or bad ecological
status. According to the Framework all European fresh water resources should be of
good ecological status by the year 2020- that is our next challenge."

Source: AlphaGalileo, http://www.AlphaGalileo.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=readrelease&ReleaseID=9399 <http://www.alphagalileo.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=readrelease&ReleaseID=9399>


The Stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Water Management Priorities for Policy Frameworks
nd Best Practices convened from 25-26 April 2002 at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
in Rüschlikon, Switzerland. Organized by the Swiss Federal Government, which was
represented by the interdepartmental working group, IDARio, and Swiss Re, the Dialogue
brought together over 140 participants from governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental
organizations, and the academic, investment and business communities.
Goals of the Stakeholder Dialogue included: identifying priority problem areas; identifying
and assessing technical, regulatory, procedural and market solutions, as well as measures
to improve equity and efficiency of regional and global water supply; fostering public-private
partnerships in the areas of water management and framework conditions; and providing
relevant input to awareness-raising programmes and media coverage, regional and
international debates on water conservation, education, and in-depth solution-oriented
research. The Dialogue also aimed to further develop the conclusions of the International
Conference on Freshwater, which took place from 3-7 December 2001 in Bonn,
Germany, and to contribute to discussions on the freshwater issue at the upcoming
Implementation Conference and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
The Dialogue's deliberations will feed into a thesis paper, which the Swiss Government plans
to use when developing its position for negotiations on freshwater issues at the WSSD,
and as a means of communicating its intent to play an active role in the international debate
on water. Swiss Re will also use the outcome for risk assessment, awareness building,
development of water-related risk-mitigating activities, and screening of projects related
to corporate social responsibility.
The Summary Report published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development

(IISD) is available at <http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/sd/ruschlikon/>


With one in seven Europeans still denied access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation,
a rise in international conflicts and disputes over water resources would seem inevitable.
According to Kaj Bärlund, Environment Director at the United Nations Economic
Commission for Europe (UNECE), "a number of European countries abstract at least
as much surface water as they generate. Ten receive almost half their total water resources
from neighbouring countries. Five others, with large rivers, receive more than three quarters
of their water from river flows from upstream countries." Yet international cooperation on
water management can be a means to prevent conflict and settle disputes. This was one
of the conclusions of the Second International Conference on the Sustainable Management
of Transboundary Waters in Europe.
The Conference brought together decision makers, scientists, water managers, hydraulic
engineers and NGOs in Miedzyzdroje (Poland) from 21 to 24 April. It was organized by
the Environment Ministry of Poland, the Environment Ministry of Finland, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, and the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management of the Netherlands under the auspices of UNECE.
Equitable access to an adequate supply of freshwater is becoming more of an issue, even
in Europe. Consequently, the more than 150 participants at the Conference underlined the need to integrate transboundary water management with the management of surface and groundwater, coastal waters and marine resources. They also called for closer cooperation among national governments, UN agencies and other international organizations, research centres and NGOs to ensure that all aspects of transboundary water management are dealt with, including the social and economic ones.
They also took stock of several pilot projects under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes that had helped to improve the management of international rivers (Bug, Morava, Ipoly, Mures, Latorica/Uzh, Tobol, Kura and Severski Donets). Finally, the participants pointed out that even though there was much information available for transboundary water management, more needed to be done to tailor this information to its target audience.
The Conference coincided with the tenth anniversary of the UNECE Convention on the
Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, which was
adopted in Helsinki on 17 March 1992 and entered into force on 6 October 1996. The
Convention now has 33 Parties. Its Protocol on Water and Health was adopted in London on 17 June 1999. It was signed by 36 countries and has so far been ratified by 7.

For more information, please contact Rainer ENDERLEIN, UNECE Environment Division, E-mail: <mailto:rainer.enderlein@unece.org>, or visit the Convention's web site on http://www.unece.org/env/water.


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