UNESCO, Paris, 31 January 2017

Water is instrumental in all economic sectors, yet recent years’ data point out growing anomalies of the water cycle, putting sustainable water supply at stake for the growing population of the Planet. However, responsibilities for water management are divided between different parts of governments and within different sectors, with little coordination among them and without an overall picture of the state of the resource. 

The Water Information Network System (WINS), developed by UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme (IHP), is to tackle this twofold problem. The WINS Platform provides Member States with a web-based tool for water management accessible for all, serving at the same time as a global reference for the implementation and monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 6  (SDG6) on water and sanitation.

By centralizing available data in an accessible, open source platform, IHP-WINS allows for geospatial visualization of the dataset as well as its changes in time. It serves as precious resource for decision makers and stakeholders in the design and support of operations, management, and decision making for sound water resources governance. Moreover, the Platform was developed allowing for 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.

Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences has described the new Platform as UNESCO’s unique contribution to the Information Revolution, which contributes to sustainable water solutions by allowing for easy management and visualization of water-related Big Data. She underlined the necessity of political will and scientific expertise for making the best use of the possibilities provided by the Platform.  

According to Professor András Szöllősi-Nagy, Chair of the IHP of Hungarian origin, the establishment of the Platform is the biggest achievement of IHP this far which comes at a crucial moment for solving pressing needs of the present and near future.  The era of cheap and abundant water has passed, now adaptation to the effects of climate change has to become our first priority. The Chairman of IHP has called for national contributions in terms of data reporting in order to fill in the “shell” provided by the Platform. 

Gabriella Pálos