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Sustainable groundwater resource management

EGRM Groundwater WG

Groundwater is vital for human well-being, food security, ecosystem services and climate resilience. It provides drinking water for more than half of the world’s population, and supplies irrigated agriculture. However, groundwater is also under increasing pressure from multiple threats, such as overexploitation, pollution, salinization, depletion and degradation. Climate change exacerbates these challenges by altering the hydrological cycle and affecting groundwater availability and quality. Therefore, sustainable groundwater resource management is essential to cope with climate change's impacts and ensure the long-term viability of this hidden wealth of nations.

The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) and the United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS) are two innovative tools developed by the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management (EGRM) to support the integrated and sustainable management of various resources, including groundwater. The UNFC is a global system for classifying and reporting on resource projects based on three dimensions: social and environmental viability, technical and economic feasibility, and geological knowledge. The UNRMS is a dynamic resource management system that provides guidance on the governance, policy, legal, regulatory, institutional and stakeholder aspects of resource management.
The UNFC and the UNRMS are important for addressing the challenges of groundwater resource management, as they enable a comprehensive and consistent assessment of groundwater resources across different regions and contexts. By applying the UNFC and the UNRMS, groundwater practitioners can improve the planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of groundwater resource projects and enhance groundwater resource management's transparency, accountability and sustainability.

Groundwater Resources Working Group


The EGRM Groundwater Resources Working Group is a dedicated group of experts and stakeholders that aims to develop and implement UNFC and UNRMS to sustain groundwater resources. The working group recognizes the vital importance of groundwater for human health, food security, ecosystem services and climate resilience. Therefore, the working group seeks to apply the UNFC and the UNRMS to support the integrated management of groundwater resources.

Objectives

The main objectives of the working group on groundwater resources are to:

  • Develop the draft UNFC supplemental specifications for groundwater resources, which build upon the existing UNFC principles and generic specifications. These specifications provide a common framework for classifying and managing groundwater resources based on three dimensions: social and environmental viability, technical and economic feasibility, and geological knowledge.
  • Develop the draft UNRMS principles and requirements for groundwater resources, which provide guidance on the governance, policy, legal, regulatory, institutional and stakeholder aspects of groundwater resource management.
  • Promote the application of the UNFC and the UNRMS for groundwater resources in different regions and contexts, through capacity building, awareness raising, stakeholder engagement and case studies.
  • Collaborate with other working groups, task forces, technical advisory groups and relevant organizations on cross-cutting issues related to groundwater resources, such as water-energy-food nexus, climate change adaptation and mitigation, circular economy and sustainable development goals.

Activities

The working group on groundwater resources conducts the following activities:

  • Holds regular meetings and workshops to exchange views and experiences, and to advance the development and implementation of the UNFC and the UNRMS for groundwater resources.
  • Participates in the annual meetings of the EGRM and the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy, as well as other relevant events and initiatives.
  • Welcomes feedback and contributions from interested parties, such as governments, regulators, industry, academia, civil society and international organizations.
  • Publishes and disseminates the draft and final versions of the UNFC supplemental specifications and the UNRMS principles and requirements for groundwater resources, as well as other related documents and reports.

UNFC supplemental specifications for groundwater

The working group on groundwater resources is developing the draft UNFC supplemental specifications for groundwater resources, which build upon the existing UNFC principles and generic specifications. These specifications provide a common framework for classifying and managing groundwater resources based on three dimensions: social and environmental viability, technical and economic feasibility, and geological knowledge. 

Membership

The current membership of the groundwater resources working group is available here