The Institute's involvement can be compared to that of an advisor and facilitator, whereby it offers logistical and conceptual support -i.e. in the form of a regulatory framework, by-laws, relevant contact information- needed to establish an alumni association, and renders advise with regard alumni initiatives, activities, co-operations, networking and the likes.
In the event that an UNESCO-IHE alumni association is to be established, UNESCO-IHE's initial advise towards the initiating Alumni is :
- Seek for four or five other enthusiastic alumni; this group then constitutes the 'founding members' of an UNESCO-IHE alumni association.
- The founding members formulate the objectives of the alumni association.
- Formulate a concrete action plan with respect to recruitment of members, and activities that can be explored and expanded.
- On the latter two points (2. and 3.), establish contact as an official UNESCO-IHE Alumni Association with the Royal Netherlands Embassy in the respective country. In all cases, the Royal Netherlands Embassy should be solicited as an official relation of the UNESCO-IHE Alumni Association, in the form of e.g. 'External Advisor' or in the possession of an 'Honorary Board Membership'.
- Ensure that the alumni association has a 'status' by acquiring an Official Registration (along with associated documentation).
- In the instance of a NAA, establish contact through UNESCO-IHE with other International Organisation (IO) institutes in the Netherlands for alumni addresses.
- Consider formalising a standard, annual 'contribution' fee for members of the alumni association in the form of a membership fee in order to facilitate organisation and financing of activities.
UNESCO-IHE Alumni perform a vital role as honorary "Ambassadors" to the world. The importance of their roles was reflected shortly after 1993, following the commencement of the first "refresher courses" held in Colombia and Brazil.
The immediate results of these refresher courses were the vigorous establishment of Alumni Associations in these countries.
Subsequently, these pioneer Associations were later cited as exemplars for the establishment of other UNESCO-IHE Alumni Associations e.g. Kenya; in Ecuador, a number of (ex-) participants took the initiative to establish an association, while preparations for the establishment of an association were progressing in Taiwan.
Since then, the number of Alumni registers over 12,000 UNESCO-IHE Alumni worldwide, and UNESCO-IHE Alumni Associations (alongside the expansion of Netherlands Alumni Associations) now exist in more than 30 countries spread across Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The establishment and strengthening of the UNESCO-IHE Alumni Network is essential to promoting and facilitating knowledge dissemination, including the exchange of professional expertise and personal experience between alma mater as well as amongst Alumni.
UNESCO-IHE fervently encourages all its Alumni to partake in the Institute's aim to broaden, deepen and strengthen Alumni networking worldwide.
People who studied or took courses in the Netherlands have founded Netherlands Alumni Associations (NAAs) in a number of countries, in which UNESCO-IHE Alumni are also actively involved in these independent associations.