Water challenges are solvable. However, decision makers in the developing world need to be equipped with the right tools to harness innovative technologies, expertise and resources to build sustainable solutions. Accessing useful information is often the first step for designing lasting solutions, but finding the right type of information can be a daunting task for users in developing countries. In response, the U.S. Water Partnership celebrated the launch of H2infO at the U.S. State Department on October 6, 2014. H2infO offers a new platform that presents the global community easy on-line access to a growing library of U.S.-generated water data and knowledge. More than 150 attendees from the water sector and embassies listened to remarks from senior leaders experienced a snapshot of the resources available on H2infO through interactive exhibits.
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli delivered the keynote at the launch and said she saw H2infO’s value to support “tech diplomacy,” as a way to help users in developing countries solve some of their water and sanitation problems.
This catalytic platform features thousands of resources and connects people to the data, knowledge and resources they need to address water challenges. H2infO’s library continues to expand and has so far been accessed by users in more than 100 countries.
In addition to Under Secretary Novelli, the event featured remarks from Ambassador Judith Garber, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Ambassador Hattie Babbitt, Chair, U.S. Water Partnership Steering Committee; Thomas Kelly, Acting Vice President for Policy and Evaluation, Millennium Challenge Corporation; Timothy Prewitt, CEO, iDE; Chris Holmes, Global Water Coordinator, U.S. Agency for International Development; and Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia.
At the launch, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development, World Resources Institute and Xylem Inc. provided interactive exhibits that created hands-on demonstrations of their water technologies and data application. Attendees explored how H2infO makes information more accessible on laptops and smartphones.
H2infO was designed to help create catalytic solutions to diverse water challenges throughout the developing world. The portal serves as a water resource librarian – directing users to resources and linking them to relevant websites. Policymakers, service providers and service developers worldwide are able to access resources to engage in the following USWP themes: WASH, integrated water resource management, efficiency and productivity, and governance. Available H2infO resources range from training manuals and water scarcity maps to case studies and project reports.
For example, a policy maker in Angola can learn from experiences in Arizona on how to best manage water resources in times of drought; NGOs in the field can easily find training manuals to help design programs that build on decades of experiences; and lessons on trans-boundary water management in the Colorado River Basin can help build good neighbors in international river basins.
Climate change and population dynamics are among the factors to add stress on global demand and water supply. Decision makers around the world will increasingly search for available data and information on
these topics. H2infO is the first installment of the U.S. Water Partnership’s commitment to the President’s Climate Data Initiative, which is a key deliverable of the President’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution in America, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. A recent White House Council on Environmental Quality fact sheet recognized H2infO as a platform to help create a “virtual community of practice to share data, experiences, lessons and practices,” consistent with the goals of the Initiative.