Webinar #9: Groundwater in a Global Perspective: Unveiling what local studies fail to notice

Date and time:October 25, 2013 
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Speaker:Jac van der Gun




 Abstracting, using and managing groundwater are mainly local activities, responding to local needs and informed by local knowledge. However, studying groundwater from a global perspective is not meaningless. On the contrary: it produces complementary information and opens up new views, contributing to a more balanced knowledge of the occurrence and properties of groundwater, a better understanding of its relevance for the human society and the environment,  a more clear awareness of the numerous interdependencies and linkages, and occasionally a conceptual break-through or an unexpected spin-off.

Why did during a few thousands of years the world’s most eminent scholars persist in erroneous ideas about the origin of groundwater in the ‘mysterious’ water cycle? Taking that into account, are we sure that our current conceptual knowledge is correct and adequate to face today’s challenges? What are the margins of uncertainty of available data on groundwater occurrence, volumes and fluxes? What can we learn from studying the evolution of groundwater withdrawal techniques around the world? How important is groundwater to mankind in comparison to other sources of water? What about the ‘silent revolution’ and its implications for groundwater availability on the longer term? Are the non-consumptive functions of groundwater endangered? When and why managing groundwater and surface water jointly?

In this webinar, Jac van der Gun will address these and other questions on groundwater. The highlights presented are drawn from the book Groundwater around the World: A Geographic Synopsis that he wrote recently together with his French colleague Jean Margat. Jac is part of the core team that will draft a Vision and Framework for Action on Groundwater Governance (www.groundwatergovernance.org) over the next six months.

About the speaker:Jac van der Gun is groundwater hydrologist. One year with a water supply company in The Netherlands was followed by four years of employment by UNDTCD in water resources assessment activities in Bolivia. Then he joined the Institute of Applied Geoscience of the R&D organisation TNO (Applied Scientific Research) in The Netherlands, where he remained employed until retirement. At TNO, Jac participated and took responsibility for the Groundwater Reconnaissance of The Netherlands.

He became also involved in the international water resources assessment and management projects of the institute, such as water resources assessment projects in Yemen and Paraguay, and he carried out numerous short missions in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe for various international and national organisations, providing scientific-technical inputs, supervising projects, formulating projects and programmes, or evaluating them. Jac was actively involved in establishing the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre, of which he became the first director in 2003. 

He is still active in several groundwater related projects of international organisations, mostly as a consultant to UNESCO or to UNESCO-IGRAC.

Related Resources: Groundwater and Global Change: Trends Opportunities and Challenges (Open Access)
Author: Jac van der Gun. Publisher: UNESCO (2012) 
January 10, 2014  
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