Patricia Wouters: Scotland is part of Unesco's vital work
The recent decision to place Unesco "in special measures" is short-sighted in the extreme and ignores the exceptional work carried out by the organisation across its three briefs of education, science and culture.
Our centre at the University of Dundee is the only one of its kind in the world; we epitomise the work Unesco does globally. Water conflict, drought, disease and devastation are all severely underestimated global risks and we are working to prevent them being realised.
Irina Bokova, Unesco's secretary-general, has already rejected the UK Department for International Development's criticism, saying: "Unesco is not an aid organisation. Unesco is an intergovernmental organisation whose work benefits all of humanity. The poor score attributed to Unesco reflects a failure of the evaluation tools to capture important aspects of Unesco's work rather than any actual poor performance."
We agree, and we reject the hectoring tone of the government, preferring to focus on the considerable positives for Scotland, the UK and the world.
Promotion of policies such as "hydro-solidarity" – the co-operative management of shared water resources between areas of abundance and scarcity – are increasingly vital if we are to avoid war, human misery, food shortages and other consequences of water insecurity.
The global water crisis is deepening with population explosion and climate change. Unesco is at the forefront of attempts to manage these challenges and prevent ecological, social and economic catastrophe.
Integrating water law, policy and science is an innovative approach to these challenges, and enhances Scotland's influence on the global stage.
For Scotland to continue to punch well above its weight on these issues, we need friends out there in the international community. Unesco helps us to be a beacon on the issues of global water scarcity and stress.
• Professor Patricia Wouters is director of the Dundee IHP-Help Unesco Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee.
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