December 3, 2007

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO
December 3, 2007

UNESCO has created Category II Centers in order to exchange information, perform theoretical and experimental research and advanced training, contribute to the execution of UNESCO's program, and increase the participation of national and regional institutions in UNESCO's efforts. These Centers are associated with UNESCO through various arrangements, are approved by the UNESCO General Conference, and have UNESCO representation on their governing board. Several countries have established Category II Centers on water-related issues, although the United States has not done so as of this time. A U.S. water-related Category II Center would be expected to correspond to UNESCO's strategic objectives as well as take into consideration the Category II Center information and guidelines developed by the U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Program. Neither the U.S. government nor UNESCO provides funding for the formation or operation of these Centers, so they must be self-sustaining.

U.S. Application Process (2008)

UNESCO IHP Category II Water Centers are considered on a biennial basis. The deadline for a U.S. application for a center to be considered by UNESCO in 2009 is January 8, 2008. To be considered, applications must be received by the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO before 5 PM EST on this date.

UNESCO will not consider applications that are sent directly to them. To be considered, completed applications and documentation must be submitted to the U.S. National Commission, which will conduct a review of all proposals based on criteria included below, and will make recommendations to the Office of UNESCO Affairs.

Applicants should send one electronic copy of their proposals to

Application materials should be based on UNESCO's Principles and Guidelines for Category II Centers and be consistent with the UNESCO IHP Strategy for Water-Related Centers.

Proposals should also be compatible with the UNESCO Draft Strategic Plan for 2008-2013, which list the following themes:

Theme 1: Adapting to the impacts of global changes on river basins and aquifer systems
Theme 2: Strengthening water governance for sustainability
Theme 3: Ecohydrology for sustainability
Theme 4: Water and life support systems
Theme 5: Water Education for sustainable development

The U.S. National Committee for IHP has highlighted the following key aspects of the UNESCO IHP as priorities for U.S. collaboration:

  • Three focus areas: advocacy (of IHP programs and aims), research, and capacity-building
  • Three thematic areas: safe drinking water; global climate change; and water hazards
  • Support existing IHP programs: e.g. WWAP, PCCP, HELP, FRIEND, ISARM, IFI
  • Support UNESCO Category II Centers: Collaborate with existing Centers

A list of current UNESCO Water Centers is also available for reference.

Applications will be reviewed by the U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Program, the Science Committee of the U.S. National Commission, and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

The Commission includes representatives from technical organizations as well as individuals with specific expertise in UNESCO's areas of competence. A list of Commission members can be found on the U.S. Commission for UNESCO website.

Timeline for the Current Application Process

January 8, 2008, 5 pm: Deadline for the receipt of proposals by the U.S. National Commission.

January 9 - February 1, 2008: Review of proposals.

February 4 - 8, 2008: Interaction with applicants as required for resolution of outstanding issues.

February 11 - 15, 2008: Review and interaction as required by the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris.

February 18, 2008: U.S. Mission to UNESCO forwards approved proposal(s) to UNESCO (n.b. This date may have to change due to UNESCO requirement that all proposals be received two months prior to the IHP Bureau meeting; such a change may affect the prior timeline, but not the January 8, 2008 deadline).

April, 2008: UNESCO IHP Bureau meets and votes.

June, 2008: UNESCO IHP Intergovernmental Council meets and votes, and if the vote is positive it requests a feasibility study by the Office of the Director General of UNESCO.

September, 2008 or April, 2009 (depending on the completion of the feasibility study) the UNESCO Executive Board meets and votes a recommendation on the proposal.

October, 2009: The UNESCO General Conference votes on the proposal.

2008 Criteria and Guidelines for Project Consideration

The United States National Committee for the International Hydrological Program has developed information and guidelines for Category II Water-Related Centers. These are given below.

Category II Centers operate under the auspices of UNESCO and are entities which are not legally part of the Organization, but which are associated with it through formal arrangements approved by the UNESCO General Conference.

The Centers should make a substantial contribution to UNESCO and U.S. strategic objectives and program priorities.

The programmatic and thematic coverage of the Center should correspond to UNESCO strategic objectives and program priorities.

Any organization (government agency, university or NGO) can apply to become a Category II center. UNESCO provides no funding to support the formation and operation of such centers. Consequently, such center(s) must have their own means of financial support and be self-sustaining.

The scientific/technical focus of a center should be complementary to the foci of existing IHP category II centers and is expected to reflect the areas of expertise and technical capabilities of the U.S. water community. A center should be consistent with the primary objectives of the U.S. National Committee for IHP:

  • act as a vehicle through which Member States, cooperating professional and scientific organizations and individual experts can upgrade their knowledge of the water cycle, thereby increasing their capacity to better manage and develop their water resources
  • develop techniques, methodologies and approaches to better define hydrological phenomena
  • improve water management, locally and globally
  • act as a catalyst to stimulate cooperation and dialogue in water science and management
  • assess the sustainable development of vulnerable water resources
  • serve as a platform for increasing awareness of global water issues

In addition, the proposal should address the following strategies of the U.S. National Committee for IHP:

  • Support USG goals and initiatives with respect to technical and capacity-building assistance to developing world.
  • Be consistent with USG goals for science and technology development.
  • Seek leadership roles and provide "value-added" programmatic impetus and support to identified priority areas consistent with USG goals and objectives.
  • Work through and support existing IHP initiatives, programs and centers as means to influence and contribute to the implementation of IHP-VII.

Submission of Proposals

Proposals must include a description of the center goals, host institution, location, technical and scientific capabilities, and the nature and source of funding. The following specific guidelines must be followed:

  1. An executive summary of one page.
  2. A description of the functions of the center including the main theme or themes of the activities that the center would foster and the related responsibilities of the core organization and all supporting organizations. If provisions are made for inclusion of other supporting organizations in the future, their respective responsibilities should be identified.
  3. A description of qualifications of the core organization and each supporting organization for their respective responsibilities.
  4. A description of the funding base that would be used for center operation and a description of how the core and supporting organizations would raise additional funds to conduct their operations.
  5. Name and respective biographical summary of the key individuals at the core organization and each supporting organization.
  6. A statement by responsible individuals of the core organization that it is making a long-term commitment to UNESCO.
  7. Name, address, e-mail, and other contact information for key personnel.

The entire package should not exceed 15 pages at 12-point font.