Activities of UNESCO Chair in Water Resources
Guided by the ever-increasing importance of clean water as a strategic resource for mankind, the main objectives of the network of departments are:
1. To analyze and forecast the chemical, physical, biological and ecological condition of water bodies and channels in light of global changes; to assess the impact of climate change on water resources.
2. To study anthropogenic eutrophication of water bodies and channels located in regions with different climatic and other conditions; to analyze the introduction and accumulation of inorganic nutrients and organic matter in water bodies and channels.
3. To determine the degree of anthropogenic impact on both surface and ground water in the regions being studied; to assess the degree of physical, chemical and biological pollution of natural waters.
4. To create new analytical, forecasting and simulation models to analyze and forecast the quality of surface and ground water.
5. To develop new courses, methods, and textbooks for students, and to exchange these materials and distribute them among other schools.
In the area of scientific research UNESCO Chair in Water Resources has aims to:
1. Study the current state of water bodies and channels, from indicators of their chemical, physical, biological and ecological condition in relation to anthropogenic impacts and possible global changes (taking Lake Baikal and mountain lakes of the Baikal rift zone as an example from the one hand and mountain lakes of the French Alps from the other hand). Assess the impact of global climate changes and the resulting catastrophes on biodiversity and biotic structure of water ecosystems of different types.
2. Study the eutrophication and pollution of water bodies and channels. Analyze the introduction and accumulation of biogenic material and pollutants in water bodies and channels. Examine the conditions of the formation and accumulation of biogenic and biologically active materials in water bodies in the Baikal region and the French Alps. Study anthropogenic impact on surface and ground water. Study pollution resulting from the shipping industry, tourism, waste-water, mining, and air transport, and their impacts on biodiversity and the biotic structure of large lakes and rivers (for example, the Selenga and the Rhone). Develop and implement methods of remediation.
3. Improve the system of ecological monitoring of water bodies and channels. Create databases on the biodiversity, surface water and ground water of the basins studied.
4. Create models for ecological processes in water bodies and channels.
5. Conduct ecological, ecogenetic and ecomorphological research on aquatic organisms and fish in their centers of active morphogenisis (the Baikal region and the Alps). Evaluate fish reserves.
6. Establish the interrelationship of surface and ground-level hydrospheres, and study physical and chemical equilibria in order to identify the role of solubility and sediment in the formation of the chemical state of natural and mineral waters. Conduct ecological-geochemical,hydro-chemical, radiological, and microbiological research of mineral and thermal waters.
Aims within educational projects:
1. Extend activities performed by Chair participants on the level of secondary education (gymnasia, lyceums, and high schools) and take part in the «UNESCO Associated School»- ASPnet Project;
2. Develop and test an international, interdisciplinary university master’s program in the field of research, protection and management of water resources by universities-participants;
3. Develop courses focused on an interdisciplinary approach, such as “Ecohydrology and Water Security”, “The Management and Protection of Water Resources”;
4. Implement a double-degree program (master’s program) at Irkutsk State and Savoie universities in the field of “Research, Protection and Management of Water Resources”;
5. Organize a field training and research site on water resources on lake Baikal at Bolshiye Koty and conduct methodological scientific workshops, internships, expeditions, and stationary scientific research;
ISU also coordinates UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) on the territory of Irkutsk region. The motto of ASPnet is Study to know; Study to know how; Study to live and study to live together. This project is aimed at spreading information about the United Nations and UNESCO through promoting the development of foreign language skills, fostering ecological awareness and a sense of responsibility towards environmental protection, studying the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project Network is engaged in organizing conferences on ecology and law, English language contests and lectures.