Ms Alice Aureli has a PhD in Hydrogeology and works in the UNESCO Water Sciences Division since 1989. She is the Chief of the Groundwater Resources and Aquifer Systems Section of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. She is responsible for, amongst others, the International Shared Aquifers Resources Management (ISARM) programme. This role has led her to supervise the work of the interdisciplinary group that advised the UN International Law Commission to prepare the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers. An important aspect of her work has been on scientific and policy-related issues surrounding groundwater governance. Ms Aureli is the author of a large number of publications and has also served as editor of various international journals.
Groundwater: preserving our natural heritage for sustainable development
To preserve the equilibrium between human and nature is the base for sustainable development. The Planet’s water security greatly depends on our capacity to manage and preserve our groundwater resources heritage for the generations to come. UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in the World Heritage Convention adopted by UNESCO in 1972 that links together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.
In a context where global water demand is projected to increase by some 55% by 2050, water security rhymes with groundwater. Better knowledge of the aquifers and good governance of groundwater resources can contribute to fix water security. Climate Change Studies should also take more consideration of the possible impacts on the hydrogeological cycle. While Equality is one of the pillars of Sustainable development, not all human beings face these water security risks the same way. Access to clean water is recognized as a human right, however today 884 million people still lack even a basic drinking-water service. Water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the world, and it is a figure that is expected to rise. Inequalities are increasing around the world on many other domains (UNESCO, Social Sciences report, 2016). Sixty-two richest individuals owned as much as the bottom half of humanity (Oxfam, 2016). On 25 September 2015, all countries of the world adopted at the UN General Assembly an agenda to reduce inequalities, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and contribute to ensure prosperity for all. Challenging inequality is at the heart of the SDGs, with their commitment to “leave no one behind”. In this framework countries have to provide from now to 2030 detailed information about their national and transboundary surface water and groundwater to the UN system to allow a better monitoring and management of the resources.