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First international flash flood workshop

Fourth World Water Forum



First international flash flood workshop

Around 100 experts from some 80 countries attended the first international workshop to address the threat of flash floods. "Realizing Flash Flood and Disaster Resilience through New Partnerships and Technologies" is being organized by WMO and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in San Jos, Costa Rica, 13-17 March.

The key objectives of the workshop were to provide an overview of flash flood prediction capabilities available for application in flood-prone regions; identify weak links in establishing end-to-end operational flash flood warning systems and how to fill these gaps; showcase best practices and case-studies and share tools, science and system integration in flash flood risk reduction; present project briefs for establishing or improving flash flood forecasting services and open dialogue with donor and finance organizations.  


and Info Note No.19


Fourth World Water Forum  

The 4th World Water Forum (WWF4) convened in Mexico City, from 16 to 22 March 2006. The Forum is the largest international event on freshwater, and seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy-making at the global level, in pursuit of sustainable development. A WMO delegation to the event was headed by the Secretary-General and included the Director of the Hydrology and Water Resources Department, the President of the Commission for Hydrology and other professional staff. 

WMOs booth at the World Water Fair


The Forums main theme, Local actions for a global challenge, was addressed through five framework themes: water for growth and development; implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM); water supply and sanitation for all; water management for food and the environment; and risk management. Over 200 thematic sessions were held during the Forum, and almost 20,000 participants attended, representing governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, business and industry, indigenous groups, youth and the media.

The Forum concluded with a Ministerial Conference on 21-22 March, with some 140 ministers and high-level officials gathering in both closed and open sessions, which included dialogues and roundtables on various aspects of water management. A Ministerial Declaration was adopted that recognizes the importance of domestic and international policies that foster and assist building capacities and cooperation at all levels to mitigate water-related disasters including prevention, preparedness, risk assessment, community awareness, resilience and response. (see

WMO booth at the World Water Fair drew huge response from the water community gathered at the Forum. Ministers, Heads of Organizations and an estimated 3000 participants of various nationalities visited the booth.  There was a great demand for WMO publications related to climate change, disaster prevention, flood management and water resources issues. About 200 additional requests for literature and publications were registered for delivery after the Forum. The National Meteorological Service of Mexico kindly provided logistical support to WMO throughout the entire Forum. 

The WWF4 was the first among the World Water Fora to address the issue of Risk Management on the level of a framework theme. WMO lead the framework theme on Risk Management, as one of the beacons.  WMO prepared, the Baseline and Thematic Documents on Risk Management (see, through a wide consultative process, including holding a virtual forum. The document describes risk as a function of the magnitude of the hazard, the degree of exposure of a society or community to the hazard and the vulnerability of society against damage due to the hazard. It continues that consequently the management of risk, has to take into account all these three components and form a systematic process comprising all forms of activities, including structural and non-structural measures to avoid or to limit adverse effects of hazards. 

Three technical sessions on the Importance of Information for Integrated Water Resources Management, Flash Floods, and Drought Management, were co-convened and other two sessions on Integrated Flood Management and International Collaboration in Flood Management were co-convened.

The Secretary-General addressed the plenary session on the Risk Management Day together with Melanie Schultz van Haegen, The Netherlands Vice-Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Carl Strock, Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mario Molina, 1995 Chemistry Nobel Prize Laureate, and Hideaki Oda, Japan Water Forum (JWF). He emphasised that while natural hazards may not be avoided, the integration of risk assessment and early warnings with prevention and mitigation measures can stop many hazards from becoming disasters. This means that action can be taken to considerably reduce the resulting loss of life and socio-economic damages. 

The Secretary-General during his address at the Plenary Session
 of the Risk Management Day
(Photo courtesy of Leila Mead/IISD)

There was also keen interest in the media on the water and climate issues. SG was involved in several other activities, including two press conferences along with the Permanent Representative of Mexico and the president of WMOs Commission for Hydrology (CHy). 

A WMO Project Office had been established in Mexico to support the National Water Commission in its aim to achieve integrated, sustainable management of Mexican water resources. The Project Office is part of the Agreement of Cooperation signed between both parties on 2 September 2005. Secretary-General, Mr Michel Jarraud and Mr Cristbal Jaime Jquez, Director-General of Mexicos National Water Commission (CONAGUA) signed the complementary Agreement during the Fourth World Water Forum in the he document was signed in the presence of Mr Csar Herrera, Secretary-General of the Fourth World Water Forum, and the Permanent Representative of Mexico with WMO, Dr Michel Rosengaus Moshinsky.

(See also WMO Info-Note 20 at:

For further information on the activities of WMO at WWF4, including documentation of the sessions please click here:

He addressed also the plenary session for Africa with the President of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and other African Ministers.  He recalled the extreme impacts of droughts and floods in Africa, and stressed the need to recognize, forecast and plan for these extremes and to monitor and gather accurate information to effectively assess, manage and mitigate risk.

See Press Release No. 746 and







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