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Parties to discuss how UNECE Water Convention can support transboundary water cooperation worldwide

With almost one third of the world’s population living in internationally shared basins and two thirds of global freshwater being supplied by these areas, transboundary water cooperation is crucial to ensure sustainable development. Nearly 350 participants from more than 70 countries will gather in Budapest from 17 to 19 November for the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) to discuss how the Convention can best support transboundary water cooperation worldwide in the future. The event is being organized by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior, on behalf of the Government of Hungary, and UNECE.  

Towards a global multilateral legal framework for transboundary water cooperation

Over the past 20 years, the Water Convention has driven significant improvement in transboundary water cooperation in the pan-European region. Following the entry into force in 2013 of the amendment allowing accession by all United Nations Member States, the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties will mark the Convention’s transition into a global multilateral legal framework for transboundary water cooperation. More than 30 countries from beyond the UNECE region will be represented. The session’s high-level segment will focus on the two main dynamics that will shape the Convention’s future: its globalization and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other global commitments.

Addressing evolving challenges to transboundary water management

The Water Convention has played a key role in improving water governance and in promoting awareness of the importance of transboundary cooperation to ensure the sustainable use of water resources, reduce the risk of water-related disasters, build trust-based relationships, enhance capacities to adapt to climate change and lay the ground for peace and development.

Two publications focusing on new approaches to promote transboundary water management and to address evolving challenges will be endorsed by the Meeting of the Parties. The Policy Guidance Note on the Benefits of Transboundary Water Cooperation: Identification, Assessment and Communication aims to support Governments and other actors in realizing the potential benefits of transboundary water cooperation. Reconciling resource uses in transboundary basins: assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystem nexus illustrates how to foster transboundary cooperation by identifying intersectoral synergies and determining measures that could alleviate tensions related to the multiple needs of the riparian countries for common resources.

The programme of work for 2016–2018, which will be discussed and adopted at the meeting, aims to assist countries, both Parties and non-Parties, in implementing the Convention and improving their transboundary water cooperation.

Strengthening implementation and compliance through reporting

One of the important decisions to be adopted by the Parties to the Convention is the introduction of a reporting mechanism, starting with a pilot reporting exercise. This mechanism is essential for the accumulation of knowledge and the exchange of lessons learned, good practices and experiences to enhance implementation of the Convention, and should also be of use for countries contemplating accession. Moreover, it could help identify the specific needs of basins, including the need to build capacities and provide technical assistance, and it will be a valuable tool in helping countries implement their global commitments in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in particular the related water goal and targets.