One of the high points of this weeks meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO was the participation of members of the national committees for the International Hydrological Program and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. These committees have been brought under the umbrella of the U.S. National Commission, and bring to its service networks of experts in two of the most important fields of UNESCO's operations.
The U.S. National Committee for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission held its first meeting on February 15, 2007 in Washington D.C. Eleven members got there in spite of a major snow storm that all but paralyzed the city. The International Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, with a budget during the current biennium of some $US 30 million (exclusive of staff costs), provides a mechanism of fundamental importance to member states for sharing of knowledge, information and technology through coordination of national programs. The IOC was created nearly 50 years ago, largely through the initiative of the United States.
The U.S. Committee for the International Hydrological Program includes members of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, U.S. government agencies, and external organizations with expertise in water resources. The International Hydrological Program, with a budget of some $13 million this biennium (exclusive of staff costs), plays an important role in helping the world prepare for a fast approaching crisis in water availability and distribution. It was created following the success of the International Hydrological Decade (IHD, 1965-1974), and has many projects of scientific and practical interest, guided by a number of international conferences. conducted during its six six-year phases. This is an especially important moment in the life of the program, as it prepares for the seventh phase, to take place from 2008 through 2013. That phase has been titled "Water Dependencies: Systems under Stress and Social Responses."