GW Integration Dialogue #3: Managing groundwater in coastal areas and SIDS

Athens, Greece (May, 2014)

The third UNESCO/GEF Groundwater Integration Dialogue took place in Athens, Greece, in May 2014 on the subject of “Managing groundwater in coastal areas and SIDS”.

The event was co-convened by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP Med) and the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) in cooperation with the UNESCO/WMO International Centre on Groundwater Assessment (IGRAC), the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) in the framework of two GEF co-financed Projects, the IW:LEARN and the MedPartnership Projects. The event was also a contribution to the International Year of SIDS (Small Islands Development States) 2014.

Coastal ecosystems sit at the nexus of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments and are among the most productive, threatened and complex ecosystems in the world. Many active geologic processes occur in coastal zones including erosion, sedimentation, alongshore and onshore sand transport, shoreline changes, wind/tidal flooding, and dunes accretion. Therefore, coastal zones are open and dynamic systems with numerous internal processes as well as interactions with the wider environment, natural and man-made.The hydrogeology of coastal zones is characterized by the layering of freshwater over the more dense saline waters of the sea. Over-exploitation of coastal aquifers can result in saline water intrusion. This is a global-scale problem that is endangering development in many highly-populated coastal regions and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).Aquifer management in coastal zones focuses on reaching a balance between protecting ecosystem services – considering that many coastal ecosystems are groundwater dependent - and sustaining the often aggressive socio-economic development of the coastal zone.

Groundwater Integration Dialogues are face-to-face meetings organized by UNESCO-IHP in the framework of the IW:LEARN Project that bring together groundwater, surface and marine projects from the GEF International Waters portfolio with local scientific communities and other networks in order to promote cooperative approaches and conjunctive management of water resources within transboundary settings.

The present video is part of the “Groundwater Talks” Initiative coordinated by UNESCO-IHP in the framework of the IW:LEARN Project. This series of videos and interviews provides an insight into groundwater issues from events across the world.

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Agenda and Background Information:

Integration dialogue #3
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The MedPartnership Project

The Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (MedPartnership) is a collective effort of leading environmental institutions and organizations together with countries sharing the Mediterranean Sea to address the main environmental challenges that Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems face. UNESCO-IHP is leading the component related to coastal aquifers. The MedPartnership is led by UNEP/MAP and is financially supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors, including the European Commission and all participating countries (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Montenegro, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey).

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