UNESCO-IHE continues the work that was started in 1957 when IHE first offered a postgraduate diploma course in hydraulic engineering to practising professionals from developing countries.
Over the years, IHE developed into an international education institute offering a host of postgraduate courses and tailor-made training programmes in the fields of water, the environment and infrastructure. It also conducted applied research, implemented institutional capacity building and human resource development programmes, participated in policy development, and offered advisory services worldwide.
The Institute gradually expanded its academic base to include disciplines such as sociology, economics, and environmental and management sciences.
Its range of activities broadened accordingly, from identifying solutions to engineering problems, to designing holistic and integrated approaches in the development and management of water and environmental resources, and urban infrastructure systems.
The Institute’s services also comprise integrated water resources management, effective service delivery and institutional reform, all of which aim to enhance full stakeholder involvement, equity, accountability and efficiency in water sector development and management.
In 2001, the 31st General Conference of UNESCO created the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education as a Category I institute of UNESCO through Resolution 31 C/47.
In 2003, UNESCO-IHE was effectively established by signing of the Seat Agreement between UNESCO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Operational Agreement between UNESCO and the Dutch Ministry of Education and the Cooperation Agreement between UNESCO and the IHE Delft Foundation.
The agreements include internal rules that guarantee a large degree of functional autonomy.
See also: 50 years of wise water, history of UNESCO-IHE