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Establishing a UNESCO Chair at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna provides valuable support to the internationally-oriented work of the World’s Large Rivers Initiative (WLRI) underway since 2012. The original point of departure was the first World’s Large Rivers Conference, which was held in Vienna, Austria, in 2011. Proving its interdisciplinary approach, the event was co-sponsored by UNESCO, IAHR (International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research), IAHS (International Association of Hydrological Sciences), WASER (World Association for Sedimentation and Erosion Research) and IAG (International Association of Geomorphologists).

As major outcome of this conference, the “Vienna Declaration” was adopted by over 450 participants from 73 countries. It recommends a collaborative and multidisciplinary international initiative to create the basis for a holistic, global scientific assessment of the status of the WLRs and to promote integrated and sustainable management of WLRs and their basins. In order to launch the project at the UN level it was presented to UNESCO-IHP during its 20th session of the Intergovernmental Council (IGC) in 2012. The proposal was discussed and the initiative was welcomed among the Member States, which was reflected in the final report of IGC. The IGC encouraged the presenter of the proposal to submit a full proposal to the IHP Bureau and subsequently to the 21st session of the IGC in 2014 for final approval.

Therefore this Chair considers the promotion and facilitation of the WLRI as one of its primary goals. It is intended that the WLRI will function as global initiative in which UNESCO - through its International Hydrological Programme (IHP) - plays a key role through the linkages to its initiatives and programmes. The WLRI supports the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and commitments (e.g. MDGs, UNBiodiv., UNFCCC) and allows an integrated approach (e.g. IHP – MAB – IGCP – WWAP).

The long term objectives of the proposal are:

  • To coordinate and facilitate the World’s Large Rivers Initiative (WLRI) [Link to Act. 1]M
  • To support the organization of the international World’s Large Rivers Conferences [Link to Act. 2]
  • To foster a linkage between research at and management of large river basins [Link to Act. 3
  • To promote and organize a proposal for an integrated project on the status and future of the World’s Large Rivers [Link to Act. 4]
  • To develop a concept for a global observatory of large rivers and their associated basins [Link to Act. 5
  • To educate, to build knowledge societies and to raise awareness in the context of integrated river research and management [Link to Act. 6]

Specific short term objectives are – among others – the promotion and preparation of the 2nd World’s Large Rivers Conference to be held in Manaus, Amazon, Brazil 2014 as well as the fostering of the integrated and international Danube Research and Management Project DREAM.