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Benefits of transboundary water cooperation

Cooperation is one of the main obligations of the Water Convention. Countries preparing for accession to or implementing the Convention naturally reflect on what benefits such cooperation can generate, such as accelerated economic growth, improved human well-being, enhanced environmental sustainability and increased political stability.

The work on benefits of transboundary water cooperation under the Water Convention, led by Estonia and supported by the Secretariat, aims at improving cooperation between States on their transboundary waters by highlighting the potential to generate a broad range of significant benefits for cooperating countries.

  • A guidance document helps countries better understand how the benefits of transboundary water cooperation can be identified, assessed and communicated to foster cooperation;
  • Projects in transboundary basins support riparian countries in better identifying, assessing and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation;

The on-going work on promoting and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation is part of the 2019-2021 programme of work of the Water Convention.

Guidance document on the benefits of transboundary water cooperation

The Policy Guidance Note on identifying, assessing and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation, published in October 2015, aims to support Governments and other stakeholders in realizing the potential benefits of transboundary water cooperation.

It does so by introducing the wide range of benefits of cooperation and providing step-by-step guidance on how to carry out a benefit assessment exercise. This includes the separate but related tasks of identification, assessment and communication of benefits. It suggests how to approach those tasks, as well as how the assessment of benefits can be integrated into policy processes to foster and strengthen transboundary water cooperation.

Support to projects in transboundary basins

Benefit assessments are useful and practical tools to promote transboundary water cooperation. They can help countries fully realize the potential benefits of cooperation, including by uncovering previously overlooked benefits and identifying opportunities arising from increased cooperation. The adoption of a “benefit lens” can prompt and strengthen joint activities, plans and programmes.

The publication Identifying, assessing and communicaating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation: Lessons learned and recommendations takes stock of three pilot benefits assessments conducted in the Cubango-Okavango River Basin, the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi River Basin and the Drina River Basin. It identifes a series of lessons learned and recommendations to help inform the design and implementation of future benefit assessment exercises.

Four pilot benefit assessments were implemented within the framework of the Water Convention's programme of work:

Transboundary basinActivitiesRelated events

Drina River Basin (mainly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia)

2016-2017

The assessment of the benefits of cooperation in the Drina River Basin was combined with an assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems Nexus. The basin dialogue recommended a broad range of beneficial response actions to address the identified intersectoral challenges related to the multiple needs of the riparian countries for the common resources. It brought up cooperation opportunities, for example, with the energy sector.

Report and Policy brief: Assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystem nexus and benefits of transboundary cooperation in the Drina River Basin

Basin workshop 1 (April 2016)

Basin workshop 2 (April 2017)

Cubango Okavango River Basin (Angola, Botswana, Namibia)

2016-on-going

The assessment of the benefits of transboundary water cooperation in the CORB contributed to a clearer understanding of the full range of benefits of cooperation in the basin, with a view to enhance cooperation and contribute to the realisation of the Basin Vision. Its recommendations are being considered in the decision processes related to the options analysis phase of OKACOM’s investment programme.

Basin workshop (May 2017)

OBSC meeting (July 2019)

Sio Malaba Malakisi River Basin (Kenya, Uganda)

2017-2018

The participative benefits opportunities assessment dialogue in the SMM basin facilitated the adoption of broader view on the benefits generated by transboundary water cooperation, supported the prioritization of development projects in the basin and facilitated a reflection on the possible long-term legal and institutional framework for cooperation in the basin.

Outcome documents:

Sio-Malaba-Malakisi Basin Investment Framework
The Sio-Malaba-Malakisi 4 clusters of prioritized investments projects

Basin workshop 1 (May 2017)

Basin workshop 2 (May 2018)

Basin workshop 3 (September 2018)

North Western Sahara Aquifer System – NWSAS (Algeria, Libya, Tunisia)

2019-2020

The participative assessment of the benefits of transboundary water cooperation in the NWSAS was combined with an assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems Nexus. It contributed to identifying beneficial "nexus solutions" and related actions in the sectors and in countries. It also contributed to the reflection on benefits generated by cooperation through the work of the Consultation Mechanism, as well as prospective benefits from increased cooperation.

Basin workshop (June 2019)

Exchange of experience at the global level

Several activities have facilitated the exchange of experiences related to the benefits of transboundary water cooperation.

8th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention (Nur-Sultan, 10-12 October 2018): main achievements were presented

Global workshop on the benefits of transboundary water cooperation (Geneva, 6-7 February 2018)

Expert workshop "Beyond water: Regional economic integration and geopolitical benefits of transboundary water cooperation" (Tallinn, Estonia, 28-29 January 2015)

Workshop "Counting our gains: sharing experiences on identifying, quantifying and communicating the benefits of transboundary water cooperation" (Geneva, 22-23 May 2014)

Expert Scoping Workshop on Quantifying the Benefits of Transboundary Water Cooperation (Amsterdam, 6-7 June 2013)