Integrated Catchment Management


The ICM Motueka research project seeks to align its work to complement other catchment-based research projects in New Zealand and internationally. 

The Motueka River catchment is one of a number of global catchments selected for an international programme dealing with hydrology and people as part of the HELP programme - a UNESCO funded initiative.

Download list of HELP basin websites and associated links  (937 kb) Updated 2 December 2004

What is HELP?

Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP)

Download the full HELP background document (Help Strategy Document.pdf 245kb)

HELP is a joint UNESCO/WMO programme which is designed to establish a global network of catchments to improve the links between hydrology and the needs of society. It is a cross cutting programme of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme and will contribute to the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), and the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme of WMO.

The vital importance of water in sustaining human and environmental health has been recognised in numerous national and international fora (e.g. the 1997 UN General Assembly Special Session), policy reviews by the UN (e.g. the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 1994) and non-UN agencies (e.g. the European Commission, 1998). Several recent international conferences culminating in the Second World Water Forum on Water Security in the 21 st Century (The Hague, March 2000) have highlighted ‘water’ as the emerging, most critical environment issue of the 21 st Century. 

The greatest pressure on freshwater resources has been identified as the continued escalation of the global population. Climate variability and potential climate change further exacerbate water scarcity. At the same time, degradation in water quality is causing a critical reduction in the amount of fresh water available for potable, agricultural and industrial use. However, despite this plethora of high profile activities no international research programme in hydrology has been forthcoming which would address key water resource issues in the field and integrate them with policy and management needs. HELP will change this by creating a new approach to integrated catchment management. 

The new approach is to use real catchments, with real water related problems as the environment within which hydrological scientists, water resources managers and water law and policy experts can be brought together. This integration is required because of the traditional separation between the water policy, water resource management and scientific communities, especially in terms of setting of research agenda and free flow of information for use in management and policy making. A result is that there is a significant time lag in the implementation of scientific outputs to the benefit of society. 

In addition, water management policy is generally based on outdated knowledge and technology. In many cases, procedures are followed where stakeholders are unaware of what technical alternatives are available and scientists not realising what is required. This "Paradigm Lock" (Figure 1) has come about because the two main groups have become isolated: scientists by the lack of proven utility of their findings, and stakeholders by legal and professional precedents and disaggregated institutions. 

At present, there is no global initiative which encourages the water policy, water resources management and scientific communities to work together within a field-oriented context so that science is closely integrated with policy and management needs. The HELP initiative aims to fill this gap. HELP is therefore a problem-driven and demand-responsive initiative that will focus on five key issues:

•Water and climate 

•Water and food

•Water quality and human health

•Water and the environment

•Water and conflict

The relative importance of these issues will vary regionally and priorities for each HELP catchment will be set by local stakeholders.

HELP will make appropriate links to a number of other water related international initiatives (eg GEWEX, IGBP, GWP etc) and will provide a major vehicle for the delivery of scientific information in support of water resources management and policy making. The outputs of HELP will be new data and models in all of the above five areas which are more suitable for the formulation of beneficial water management and policy, with the objective of meeting human needs and increasing societal benefits through the appropriate use of water and sustainable development.

The overarching goal of HELP is therefore to:

contribute social, legal, economic and environmental benefits to communities through

sustainable and appropriate use of water by deploying hydrological science in

support of improved integrated catchment management.

Information on the HELP programme can be found at –

or from –

Dr. Mike Bonell,

UNESCO Division of Water Sciences,

1 rue Miollis,

75732 Paris Cedex 15,



Dr. Wolfgang Grabs

Hydrology and Water Resources Deaprtment

World Meteorological Organisation

7 bis avenue de la Paix

Case postale 2300

CH 1211 Genève 2




Other HELP basins 

Download list of HELP basin websites and associated links  (937 kb) Updated 2 December 2000