The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is as an evolving programme, ready to adapt tothe needs of an ever changing society. In order to respond promptly and with appropriate actions,the programme is implemented in six year phases, so as to identify new emerging problems, alertdecision makers, raise public awareness and provide the necessary resources.Today, integrated water resources management poses not only scientific, but also technical,socio-economic, cultural and ethical challenges. IHPis a multidisciplinary programme at theforefront of research and development; and to this end is a prominent agent in meeting the UnitedNations Millennium Goals.Since the seventies IHPhas focused in particular on hydrogeology and studies related togroundwater resources.The intention of this monograph is to contribute to a better understanding of the crucial roleplayed by groundwater resources in the support of both the ecosystems and mankind.This volume does not claim to offer the full picture as far as world groundwater resourcesare concerned; indeed our knowledge of the world and its most important aquifer systems is farfrom complete. As such, in years to come, some of the information contained in this monographwill require updating and this through results of new studies and activities initiated and carriedout by UNESCO.All those who have contributed to this monograph have done so on a voluntary basis andare fully committed to continuing the development of existing knowledge in the field ofgroundwater resources.
Alice AureliResponsible for activities in Groundwater ResourcesSecretariat of the International Hydrological Programme