1. WE, THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION, gathered at The Hague, Netherlands, from 23 to 25 March 2000 for our second meeting, reaffirm the conclusions of our first meeting (Helsinki, 2 - 4 July 1997).
2. Moreover, we welcome the outcome of the Second World Water Forum and the Ministerial Conference (The Hague, 17 - 22 March 2000) and stress the challenge of sharing water resources by promoting peaceful cooperation through sustainable river basin management. We also stress the need to work together with stakeholders to make pollution control strategies based on the polluter-pays principle more effective and to consider appropriate rules and procedures to govern liability and compensation for damage resulting from activities dangerous to water resources.
3. We most heartily welcome the adoption in London, on 17 June 1999, of the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention as an important tool for ensuring safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to all citizens throughout the UN/ECE region.
4. We welcome the forthcoming adoption of the EC Directive establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, which may inspire sustainable water management well beyond the borders of the European Union.
5. We commit ourselves to contributing to the periodical review of the implementation of chapter 18 of Agenda 21 on freshwater resources, using appropriate forums, including the meeting in Bonn (Germany) in 2002, and the Rio+10 assessment. We offer to share our experience with other regions in the world.
6. We are ready to cooperate with the newly established Regional Technical Advisory Committees of the Global Water Partnership in Europe, with the aim of furthering the objectives of our Convention.
7. We welcome those Parties that have ratified the Convention since our first meeting. We encourage all UN/ECE member countries to ratify the Convention and the Protocol, and invite all other countries to draw on its provisions when formulating and implementing their water policies. We encourage all UN/ECE member countries to update their agreements and arrangements and to conclude and ratify new ones in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
8. We invite the executive bodies of related conventions, the UN/ECE Committee on Environmental Policy, and other relevant bodies, organizations and institutions to cooperate actively in our work so that both sides can benefit from each other's experience.
9. We take note with appreciation of the comparative study on the UN/ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. We stress the complementarity of these instruments in strengthening worldwide water legislation.
10. We recognize with appreciation that since the Convention's adoption considerable progress has been made institutionally by creating new joint bodies and improving collaboration through existing ones. We stress the importance of joint bodies for achieving the objectives of our Convention, and for drawing up joint action programmes. Within the joint bodies to which our Convention applies, we commit ourselves to increasing cooperation with the relevant coastal States and regional sea commissions, as appropriate.
11. We underline the message, contained in the recent European Environment Agency's environment report, that much remains to be done in Europe to improve water ecosystems. In this light, we welcome the close cooperation established between the Convention's bodies and the Agency.
12. We adopt the following documents submitted to us:
(a) The Recommendations on the prevention and limitation of the effects of industrial accidents on transboundary waters;
(b) The Guidelines on monitoring and assessment of transboundary rivers;
(c) The Guidelines on monitoring and assessment of transboundary groundwaters;
(d) The Guidelines on sustainable flood prevention.
We will assess the experience with their application at our fourth meeting.
13. We take note of the draft guidelines on public participation and the draft compliance review procedure prepared by a joint group of experts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Regional Office for Europe of the United Nations Environment Programme, at the initiative of the Netherlands, and will further discuss their contents.
14. Our cooperation during the next three years will focus on four programme areas, as elaborated in our 2000-2003 work plan:
(a) Implementation and compliance;
(b) Integrated management of water and related ecosystems;
(c) Monitoring and assessment;
(d) Water and health.
15. Worried about the serious consequences of recent water-related accidents and aware of the discussions that they have triggered also in other international forums on how to prevent such accidents in the future and better control their consequences, we will: assess relevant liability rules; identify possible gaps with regard to liability rules where action under our Convention is called for; and draw up options with the view of developing tools, including non-binding or legally binding instruments. In parallel we will also examine possibilities for providing the Parties to the Convention and joint bodies with guidance for improving preventive and response measures as well as safety standards. In doing so we will seek appropriate cooperation with the Conference of the Parties to the UN/ECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents.
16. We welcome and gratefully accept the offer of the Government of the Netherlands to establish a collaborating centre -- the International Water Assessment Centre -- under the Convention.
17. We will continue to encourage countries with economies in transition that are riparian to the same transboundary waters to prepare and carry out joint projects on human resources development and institutional capacity-building to resolve existing water-management problems and prevent future disputes over water resources. We will also continue to support the UN/ECE Regional Advisory Service Programme in facilitating the preparation and implementation of such joint activities under the Convention and the Protocol. We count on the assistance of this Programme, particularly its Advisory Service on Legal Instruments, in the implementation of our work plan and of the relevant decisions and recommendations of the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health.
18. We invite donor countries, financial institutions and funding mechanisms that carry out assistance projects (such as the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the European Commission, and subregional assistance programmes) to give high priority to relevant joint country initiatives when deciding on funding.
19. We, the Parties, note with appreciation that at this meeting UN/ECE member countries that have not yet become Parties to the Convention have associated themselves with this declaration.
20. We express our gratitude to the Government of the Netherlands for hosting our meeting and for its generous hospitality.
21. We welcome the offer of the Government of Spain to host our third meeting in the year 2003.