Following the success of the congresses in Melbourne (2000), Madrid (2003) and Delhi (2005), we are greatly honoured to organise in Montpellier, France the XIIIth World Water Congress in September 2008, under the auspices of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA). The ongoing interest of Montpellier and its region, Languedoc Rousillon in water issues began many centuries ago. Impressive witnesses to this heritage that has sculpted the landscape and the hearts and minds of the region’s inhabitants are still visible today: the Pont du Gard, built by the Roman Empire to supply water for the city of Nîmes; the Aqueduc du Peyrou (early 18th Century) built by the world famous engineer, Pitot, in the heart of Montpellier; the complex development planning of the Camargue wetlands within the Rhône River delta (19th Century); and more recently, the construction of the Bas- Rhône Languedoc canal and its associated hydro-agricultural infrastructure.

Today, Montpellier offers diverse and complementary expertise in the fi eld of water sciences and related research. Thanks to strong local links between the scientifi c community, local authorities and private companies, Montpellier is undoubtedly one of the most significant skill centres in Europe in the fi eld of water. Its scientific community specialises in studies on the improvement of water management in the context of environmental sustainability under the constraints of global climate change.

The various calls to participate at the Congress are a promising success: we have now received over 1200 pre-registrations from 125 countries. 400 abstracts have been selected for oral presentation and 400 for the poster sessions during the Congress. 16 special sessions are planned, dealing with pressing and topical subjects. 4 side-events and 18 technical visits are available to congress participants. Several distinguished international personalities have accepted to deliver the keynote lectures and the French government has given its support through the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Planning and Development and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The Congress is offi cially labelled by the French Coordination for Water and is a part of the French contribution to the 2008 International Year of the Planet Earth.

We thank the sponsors who are supporting this event: together they represent the large family of the water world: government agencies, local authorities, education and research establishments, associations, and large and small companies.

The Congress will also be an event for the citizens, including the youngest, of Montpellier and its region, with numerous public events (fi lm festival, shows, exhibitions, etc.). It is an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know water specialists from all over the world, hopefully with fruitful future exchanges.

We look forward warmly to greeting you at the XIIIth World Water Congress.

Welcome to Europe,
Welcome to the Mediterranean border,
Welcome to the south of France,
Welcome to Montpellier !

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