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The International Conference on Climate and Water was held in Helsinki, Finland from September 11-15, 1989 and was attended by 250 specialists from 28 countries. It was convened by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) under the auspices of the Organization's Regional Association VI (Europe). The majority of the participants and scientific papers were from European countries; experts did, however, attend from as far away as Africa, India, the United States, and Australia.

The organizers of the conference were Ministry of the Environment, Finland; Academy of Finland; National Committee for the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the Research Council for the Environmental Sciences; Finnish National Board of Waters and the Environment; Finnish Meteorological Institute and World Meteorological Organization. The cosponsors were the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).