Keywords: Annual Report
2020 A MOST UNUSUAL YEAR
By IAHR President Prof. Joseph Hun-wei Lee
These words will sound familiar to anyone from any corner of the world this year: 2020 has turned out to be the most unusual year as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. But if someone could read this message in the future and find out how the year unfolded –just as people who consult our collection of old IAHR World Congress proceedings learn what that each period of time was like– I assure you that the coronavirus literally turned the world upside down in 2020. The fact is, however, that this upheaval has revealed some key elements that have strengthened IAHR.
First, the growth of online tools has made international communication so much easier. IAHR embraced this change and took the lead in this new era with a special online event on Hydro-environment Engineering and Adaptation to Climate Change to commemorate World Water Day in March 2020. The success was followed by the Asian and Pacific Division Congress, the lecture on How to Write a Good Paper, the series of webinars on Global Water Security, and specialty conferences such as River Flow 2020, ISE 2020, the first Young Professionals Congress, and CoastLab 2020 - all organized online. In addition to these very successful virtual gatherings, the most memorable event was the IAHR 85th Anniversary Summit, which was organised both online and offline with more than a dozen sessions. The anniversary ceremony was attended by the Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy from Ethiopia, the Vice-Minister of Water Resources of China, representatives from both IWHR and Spain Water, and other distinguished guests.
Secondly, this crisis has brought to light not only the importance of science and research for life but also the need for the dissemination of the results of this research through peer-reviewed journals, as well as society’s interest in being well informed. The newly implemented IAHR Strategic Plan for 2020-2023 revolves around four pillars, and one of these pillars is to inspire, disseminate, and catalyse state-of-the-art knowledge and thinking. This is closely connected to what the society demands nowadays, and IAHR has heeded this call through its journals, a new monograph on Climate Change-Sensitive Water Resources Management, and the continuation of the White Paper Series.
For the third element, I would highlight that COVID has shown us that the solution is global for this and future challenges, and the crisis has also shed a light on the importance of international cooperation in boosting fundamental research. In this sense, IAHR has welcomed 6 new Institute members, 682 new individual members, and 9 new Young Professionals Networks in 2020, which strengthens our association, while at the same time we have made good progress in elevating diversity issues such as gender equity and the needs of young professionals.
This annual report highlights some of our activities in this odd year for which I would like to thank the efforts of the members of the IAHR Council and Executive Committee. I would also like to thank the members of the Committees created in 2020 under our new IAHR structure that reflects the active involvement of our members, who are the core of the Association and the essence of our contribution to Society.