The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education was established in 2003. It carries out research, education and capacity development activities in water related fields. UNESCO-IHE continues the work that began in 1957 when IHE first offered a postgraduate diploma course in hydraulic engineering to practicing professionals from developing countries.
The Institute is the largest water education facility in the world, and the only institution in the UN system authorized to confer accredited MSc degrees, and provides PhD education in collaboration with partner universities.
The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education is based in and operates from Delft, the Netherlands, and facilitates all UNESCO member states. Through the signing of the following three agreements, UNESCO-IHE was established in 2003:
- UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands signed the Seat Agreement,
- UNESCO and the Dutch Ministry of Education signed the Operational Agreement,
- UNESCO and the IHE Delft Foundation signed the Cooperation Agreement.
The agreements include internal rules that guarantee functional autonomy to achieve the Institute's objectives. Read more
Whilst UNESCO-IHE is prominently involved in its own research and education on the Delft premises, it is also instrumental in strengthening the efforts of other universities and research centers throughout the world, which increase the knowledge and skills of professionals working in their respective water sectors.
The member states of UNESCO have access to the knowledge and services of UNESCO-IHE in human and institutional capacity building, which is vital in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (Agenda 21) and other global water objectives.
Vision and mission
UNESCO-IHE envisages a world in which people manage their water and environmental resources in a sustainable manner, and in which all sectors of society, particularly the poor, can enjoy the benefits of basic services.
The mandate given by UNESCO to IHE is to:
- strengthen and mobilise the global educational and knowledge base for integrated water resources management; and
- contribute to meeting the water-related capacity building needs of developing countries and countries in transition.
Within this mandate, the mission of the Institute is to:
- contribute to the education and training of professionals and to build the capacity of sector organisations, knowledge centres and other institutions active in the fields of water, the environment and infrastructure in developing countries and countries in transition.
The functions of the Institute include:
- Serving as an international standard-setting body for postgraduate water education programmes and continuing professional training;
- Building human and institutional capacities through education, training and scientific research;
- Setting up and managing networks of educational and water sector institutions and organisations worldwide;
- Functioning as a ‘policy forum’ for UNESCO member states and other stakeholders; and
- Providing advice on water education to partner organisations and other members of the UN water family.
Beneficiaries and clients
UNESCO-IHE provides a wide range of services to a variety of target groups in developing countries and countries in transition:
- Education, training and scientific research – for water sector professionals, engineers, scientists, consultants and decision-makers working in the water and environment sectors.
- Water sector capacity building – for water sector ministries and departments, municipalities, water boards and water utilities, universities, training and research institutes, industries, non-governmental and private sector organisations.
- Partnership building and networking – among knowledge centres, public and private sector organisations.
- Standard setting for education and training – for water-related institutions, universities and other education and training agencies in the water sector.
- Policy forum on water – for UNESCO member states and other stakeholders.