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Report International Hydrological Programme

Represented by Almudena Sánchez and Luise von Stackelberg

For the 2007 conference, NMUN staff had decided to include an organization dedicated to improving environmental problems: The International Hydrological Programme (IHP). The IHP is the intergovernmental scientific program concerning water resources of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Through the IHP, member states can enhance their knowledge of the water cycle and thereby increase their capacity to better manage and develop their water resources. As one of the three pillars of UNESCO’s division of water science, the IHP was established in 1975 as an advising and report-writing committee. For our work at NMUN, this meant that all delegations present, 134 in total, were expected to form groups in order to draft parts or fragments for the final report, covering different aspects of the topic. In the end, they were supposed to be merged in one document and be voted on in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The first session of the IHP was used to debate the order of the agenda. The three topics on the provisional agenda had been:

  1. The Impact of Climate Change in Water Resources,
  2. Water as an Agent of Cooperation, and
  3. Urbanization and Water Management Challenges.

 “Hi, my name is Noemi, I am from South Africa. Which country do you represent? Oh, Morocco! Which agenda items do you favor?” Discussions about the agenda order, beginning like that, gave us the possibility to get to know the other delegations and to exchange business cards. Time for substantial debate, however, was very limited. Luckily, most delegations supported Morocco’s strong conviction to discuss Climate Change as the first topic, so we did not need much time and efforts to persuade the other delegations. At the end of the first day, we were very happy to witness that our favored agenda order had been accepted: (1) The Impact of Climate Change in Water Resources, (2) Urbanization and Water Management Challenges, (3) Water as an Agent of Cooperation.

We spent the following three days with formal debate, informal negotiations and report writing. During the first caucus, two diplomats jumped on a chair and screamed “African block! African block!”, urging all the other African diplomats to come outside in order to form an African working group. The following meeting was loud, but effective. First, we collected topics which were of special importance to each country. Then we decided to divide the many delegations in groups, according to the topics the respective countries were most interested in.

During the process, Morocco joined two different African groups: One concentrated on solutions for infrastructure problems concerning water distribution. Together with Ghana and Zimbabwe, we focused on new solutions for agricultural problems – for example on drip irrigation mechanisms, which save water while irrigating fields. The other African group we had joined dealt with developing a successor of the Kyoto Protocol. South Africa and Madagascar as well as our neighbor country Algeria were the delegations we happily shared our ideas with. In the end, our group concentrated particularly on simplifying and further streamlining the procedures of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As the CDM for example helps deciding which countries receive development aid, our group recommended transparent and neutral criteria for the funding of projects.

From time to time, we tried to integrate into the European group which was headed by a strong German delegation and which had the same objective: to recommend new ideas for a post-Kyoto treaty, especially taking into consideration water-related problems. As for Morocco the Kyoto Protocol is of utmost importance, we aimed at fulfilling our role to act as a bridge or mediator between African and European interests. To put it in a nutshell: The European group loved to have African support, but was not as open to integrate African and especially Moroccan ideas as we had hoped. As those negotiations were not promising a successful outcome, we decided to finally leave the group without Moroccan support. Looking back, our work in the IHP was therefore more Africa-focused than we had planned: On the last day, together with South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe, we tried to lobby for merging our two African reports. But even though they would have complemented each other perfectly, authorship seemed to be too important for some of the delegates. In the end, the African block was neither standing nor acting as a block. In a way, that was probably very close to reality.

In total, the member states of the IHP created twenty working papers. The working papers stressed scientific solutions, taking into consideration concerns and problems of regional groups, for example the small island states. Specific aspects of Climate Change and its impact on water resources were covered, such as flood management, agriculture or education. As none of those topics inflicted with Morocco’s national interests (and as we therefore were flexible in negotiating), we took advantage of this situation to lobby for support for our own reports. By Friday – our last session – sixteen draft report segments had been introduced and the committee decided to go into voting procedure. Amendments were mostly considered friendly, and motions for division of the question always failed. Our two African report segments were adopted with an overwhelming majority - as the other twelve successful report segments did, too. However, there was no time left to discuss urbanization and water management challenges, nor water-related conflict and cooperation. As all water-related issues are inextricably linked, however, some aspects had been addressed in the course of the committee’s work.

Summarizing Morocco’s work in the IHP, we can say that we should have drafted our own report instead of joining other groups. But except for this decision in the beginning, we managed to represent Morocco as realistic as possible. And we are happy that we had the possibility to apply what we had learned during the preparation process.