About the UNECE
UNECE has to tackle a wide range of water quantity
and water quality problems: high water stress
and overexploitation of water resources, increasing
droughts and floods, contaminated water resulting
in water-related diseases, etc.
Attempts at solving these complex problems
in Europe are further complicated by the essentially
transboundary nature of water resources. More
than 150 major rivers and 50 large lakes in
the UNECE region run along or straddle the border
between two or more countries. Twenty European
countries depend for more that 10% of their
water resources on neighbouring countries and
five countries draw 75% of their resources from
Fortunately, UNECE member States are aware
of the need for cooperation if they are to ensure
that transboundary waters are used reasonably
and equitably. They know that they share the
same water resources and rely on each other
to apply effective solutions. This positive
approach to the problem has been triggered,
in no small measure, by the UNECE Convention
on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses
and International Lakes, which 36 UNECE countries
and the European Community have already ratified.
The Convention takes a holistic approach based on the understanding that water resources play an integral part in ecosystems as well as in human societies and economies.
Its commitment to integrated water resources management replaces an earlier focus on localized sources of pollution and management of separate components of the ecosystem.
In 2003, the Water Convention was amended to allow accession by countries outside the UNECE
region, thus inviting the rest of the world to use the Convention’s legal framework and to benefit from its
experience. Once the amendment enters into force, this will be of particular importance for countries that
border the UNECE region, such as Afghanistan, China and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Full text of the Convention English Russian French
Full text of the amendment English Russian French
Read more about the Convention in the Convention Brochures:
New brochure on the Water Convention "The Water Convention ... at your service" with additional information on activities: assessment and climate change