The University of Birmingham has been invited by UNESCO’s Director General to join its prestigious global universities network and establish the first ever UNESCO Chair in Water Science.

Through the accolade – that has been awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with the full support of the UK National Commission for UNESCO – the University of Birmingham will facilitate inter-disciplinary research, education and awareness raising to tackle water scarcity around the world. 

The University’s Professor of Hydrology, David Hannah, will coordinate the activities as the UNESCO Chairholder. 

Professor David Hannah said: “Through the UNESCO Chair, we want to understand patterns and causes of water resource availability to help reduce uncertainty and make better projections of what is likely to happen in the future and for data sparse environments.  We also want to see how we can make better use of new technologies and citizen science in hydrology, using local people as observers, to raise awareness of water issues”. 

The UK National Commission for UNESCO, which is the central hub for UNESCO-related matters in the UK, supported Professor David Hannah through the rigorous application process to establish the UNESCO Chair. The UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Higher Education Director, Professor Kiran Fernandes, said of the announcement: “Water scarcity has been a source of conflict in the past and by facilitating sustainable approaches to reducing this risk, the new UNESCO Chair is clearly helping to further UNESCO’s global mandate for peace. 

In being invited to establish a UNESCO Chair, the University of Birmingham is taking its rightful place within a dynamic, global network of universities which have been formally honoured by UNESCO for high-quality research that is working to further UNESCO's goal to build peace, security and sustainable development through international collaboration in education, science, culture, communication and information”. 


Press contacts 

For interviews with Professor David Hannah, please contact

For more information, contact Sophie Leedham, Policy and Communications Manager at the UK National Commission for UNESCO Secretariat / 020 7766 3492 or visit the Chairs and UNITWIN Networks webpage.


About the UNESCO Chairs Programme 

The UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Programme was established as a way to advance research, training and programme development in UNESCO’s fields of competence and strengthen the interface between policy and research by building dynamic university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders. 

UNESCO Chairs UNITWIN Networks are established in over 700 institutions in 126 countries worldwide. 

The UK is home to 22 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks playing a leading role in research areas as diverse as sustainable mountain development to archaeological ethics and practice. In the UK, the Programme is coordinated by the UK National Commission for UNESCO. Learn more about the UK’s UNESCO Chairs


UNESCO promotes a culture of peace by fostering intercultural dialogue and international cooperation through collaborative work in the fields of education, the natural and social sciences, culture, communication and information. 

UNESCO in the UK

The UK is home to a diverse network of UNESCO projects. From Biosphere Reserves to Creative Cities, Global Geoparks to World Heritage Sites, UNESCO is closer to home than you might think. Discover UNESCO near you at The UK National Commission (UKNC) works to support the UK’s contribution to UNESCO and bring the benefits of UNESCO to the UK. It is the hub for UNESCO-related matters in the UK. 

The UKNC has three core priorities:

  1. We provide expert, independent policy advice to UK and devolved government on UNESCO related issues
  2. We advise and support individuals and institutions in the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies on accessing UNESCO accreditation and prizes and how to derive more value from their involvement with UNESCO 
  3. We support the UK government’s agenda in helping UNESCO to become more effective 

In carrying out these roles, the UKNC relies on advice and support of its expert network, including specialists in the fields of education, culture, the sciences and communication and information from across the UK. 

To learn more about UNESCO in the UK and how you can get involved, contact or visit