UNU-INWEH’s mission is “to contribute, through capacity development and directed research, to efforts to resolve pressing global water problems that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States and their Peoples”.
The core concern of the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is the global water crisis. Lack of adequate freshwater supplies and poor water management directly block efforts to alleviate poverty and to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly those for water. It is now widely accepted that a critical factor contributing to the water crisis is the lack of indigenous capacity – scientific, educational, managerial, technological and institutional - for effective water management in many developing countries. Despite some progress, many barriers remain, including the fragmented, intermittent, donor-driven, project-based approach that has been so ineffective, and even damaging, in the past.
UNU-INWEH acts as the ‘UN Think-Tank on Water’, responding directly to the global water crisis, and facilitates global efforts to meet the MDGs. UNU-INWEH’s programme is designed to provide applied science and capacity-building initiatives that enable water managers to better address both the root causes and current manifestations of the global water crisis.
UNU-INWEH’s three core functions are derived from its mandate:
- Capacity Development: Helping developing countries meet the MDGs through: cross-cutting, adult-education programmes, including distance education; “Learning networks” for comparative research, monitoring and knowledge sharing; and new water-related research and management institutions.
- Knowledge Enhancement: Facilitating global knowledge networks to address the global water crisis by: generating new knowledge, based on cutting-edge science; synthesizing existing knowledge through “learning networks”; and mobilizing the learning networks to effectively disseminate knowledge.
- Research-Policy Bridging: Fostering better approaches to water management and governance through applied research designed to fill critical policy gaps. Where local capacity is weak, UNU-INWEH helps communities and countries to: diagnose problems; translate information into policy-relevant formats; and evaluate existing policies.