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The Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health


The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and  International Lakes  (Water Convention) is a unique international legal instrument and intergovernmental platform which aims to ensure the sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation. Initially negotiated as a regional instrument, it has been opened up for accession to all UN Member States in 2016. 


The Protocol on Water and Health, jointly serviced by UNECE and WHO-Europe , is a unique legally binding instrument aiming to protect human health by better water management and by reducing water-related diseases. The Protocol provides a practical framework to translate into practice the human rights to water and sanitation and to implement SDG 6.

In focus

Since the Water Convention’s global opening in 2016, Chad and Senegal acceded and many other countries have started accession processes. The Convention supports countries through the application of its strategy for implementation at global level and its current programme of work for 2019-2021 (brochure, detailed programme in ENGFRERUSSPA), which aims to strengthen cooperation and partnerships for the management of transboundary waters worldwide in order to promote sustainable development and peace.

The programme of work of the Protocol on Water and Health for 2020-2022 (available  in ENG, FRE and RUS) aims to address the main challenges related to water, sanitation and health in the pan-European region. The Protocol supports countries in areas such as preventing and reducing water-related diseases; institutional water, sanitation and hygiene; small-scale water supplies and sanitation, safe and efficient management of water supply and sanitation systems and equitable access to water and sanitation.

SDG indicator 6.5.2 measuring transboundary water cooperation: all countries sharing water resources are invited to report by 30 June 2020.

More information on COVID-19: the role of the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health.