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The International Conference on “Europe-Asia transboundary water cooperation” was held from 15 to 16 December 2011 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference was organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), at the invitation of the Government of Switzerland, in the framework of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), which is currently chaired by Switzerland.

Many transboundary river basins lie at the border between Europe and Asia and are an important source of drinking water, irrigation and hydropower. Cooperation for the sustainable use of these resources are key for the social, economic and environmental development of their riparian countries. Transboundary cooperation becomes more and more crucial in view of the expected impacts of economic development, population growth and climate change on water resources, in order to prevent conflicts between riparian countries, optimize the use of resources and ensure sustainability.

The Water Convention has, since its entry into force in 1992, provided an important framework for cooperation on transboundary waters in the UNECE region. A wealth of guidance and experience has been accumulated under its umbrella. In 2003, upon a proposal by Switzerland, the Parties adopted an amendment to open the Convention beyond the UNECE region. Once in force, this amendment will allow accession by non-UNECE countries.

In adopting the amendment, Parties stressed its particular importance for neighbouring non‑UNECE countries that share waters with UNECE countries, and have called for an increased exchange and cooperation, even before the formal entry into force of the amendment.

The International Conference on “Europe-Asia transboundary water cooperation” promoted dialogue and cooperation on the management and protection of transboundary waters along the border of the two continents, i.e., those shared by two or more of the following countries: Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

In particular, the conference allowed participants to:

  • Debate the current state, the progress achieved and the remaining challenges for cooperation on waters in this border region
  • Exchange experiences and showcase good practices of transboundary cooperation from different basins within the European and Asian region
  • Increase awareness and understanding of the UNECE Water Convention and its work, including the technical and strategic guidance documents developed under its framework and the practical experiences of its application
  • Identify options for the way forward.

The conference focused on the following themes:

  • Legal and institutional aspects of transboundary water cooperation
  • Balancing different interests and uses in transboundary basins, and the application of integrated water resources management
  • Protection of ecosystem and water quality, including monitoring and data exchange
  • Extreme weather events and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins
  • Prevention and response to industrial accidents.

The report of the conference will be made available soon.

Information NoticePDFPDF
Registration FormDOC
List of ParticipantsPDF
Conference ConclusionsPDFPDF
Brochure of the ConventionPDFPDF
Text of the ConventionPDF
Amendment to articles 25 and 26 of the Convention
Programme of work 2010-2012 for the Convention
Guidance on water and adaptation to Climate Change
Second Assessment of transboundary river, lakes and groundwater
Brochure of the ProtocolPDFPDF
Text of the ProtocolPDFPDF


Opening Session


Cooperation between Europe and Asia on transboundary waters - key to regional stability
Ms. Charlotte Warakaulle, Chief of Section, Political Affairs, External Relations
and Inter Agency Affairs, United Nations Office in Geneva, on belalf of
Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General, United Nations Office in Geneva
Promoting transboundary cooperation at the global level by using the experience
of the Water Convention
Mr. Andrey Vasilyev, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNECE
The UNECE Water Convention: obligations and practical application
Ms. Francesca Bernardini, Secretary to the UNECE Water Convention, UNECE

Session 1: Setting the Scene

Statements from the delegations of Afghanistan
Statements from the delegations of Islamic Republic of IranPDF
Statements from the delegations of Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Statements from the delegations of Kazakhstan
Statements from the delegations of KyrgyzstanPDF
Statements from the delegations of Mongolia
Statements from the delegations of Russian Federation
Statements from the delegations of TajikistanPDF
Statements from the delegations of ThailandPDF
Statements from the delegations of Turkmenistan
Statements from the delegations of UzbekistanPDF
Statements from the delegations of Vietnam

Session 2: Protection of ecosystems and water quality, including monitoring and data exchange

Mr. Alexandr Bragin, Director, Department of International Environmental Conventions
and Agreements, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Kazakhstan, on the cooperation between Kazakhstan and China
Mr. Eugene Simonov, Coordinator, Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition,
on the protection of ecosystems and wetlands in the transboundary Amur / Argun river basin
Mr. Talaibek Makeev, Director, Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia,
on the launch of a platform for cooperation on water quality in transboundary rivers in Central Asia

Session 3: Legal and institutional aspects of transboundary water cooperation and management

How to develop transboundary agreements and institutions for their implementation based
on the Water Convention
Ms. Iulia Trombitcaia,UNECE
The Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin and its implementation
Mr. Samo Groselj, Deputy Secretary, International Sava River Basin Secretariat
Legal and institutional framework for transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia
Mr. Saghit Ibatullin, Chairperson, Executive Committee of the International Fund
for Saving the Aral Sea (EC-IFAS)
Transboundary water cooperation between the Russian Federation and its neighbours:
legal and institutional aspects
Mr. Vasily Kuriyanov, Deputy Head, Federal Agency for Water Resources,
Russian Federation
Ongoing process of institutional reform to decentralize the Mekong River Commission:
towards more ownership to the countries
Mr. Duc Trung Le, Director General, Viet Nam National Mekong Committee,
Mekong River Commission

Session 4: Disaster risk reduction and prevention, preparedness and response to accidental
water pollution

Mr. Shukhrat Talipov, Chief Specialist, State inspection Gosvodhoznadzor, Uzbekistan,
on the cooperation on dam safety in Central Asia
Ms. Heide Jekel, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany,
on the cooperation on the prevention of accidental industrial water pollution in the Rhine and Elbe basins
Mr. Boris Minarik, Director, International Water Assessment Centre,
on the cooperation on the prevention of accidental industrial water pollution in the Danube basin

Session 5: Balancing different interests for development in transboundary basins

Iran and Turkmenistan: lessons learned from transboundary water cooperation
Mr. Mohammad Reza Attarzadeh, Deputy Minister of Energy in Water and Waste Water Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Islamic Republic of Iran
Sharing costs of water infrastucture and joint decision-making on water allocation: the Agreement and Commission on the Chu Talas Rivers
Mr. Chyngyzbek Uzakbaev, Commission on the Use of Water Management - Facilities of Intergovenmental Status on the Chu and Talas Rivers, Kyrgyzstan
Hydropower and flood protection: the cooperation between Finland and the Russian Federation
Mr. Kai Kaatra, Director, Head of Unit, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland
Mining developments in Mongolia and possible transboundary impact of water transfers from Orkhon and Herlen Rivers
Ms. Sukhgerel Dugersuren, Executive Director, Mongolian Council of Environmental NGO's Mongolia

Session 6: Extreme weather events and adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins

Ms. Sonja Koeppel, UNECE Secretariat, on the importance of transboundary cooperation in climate change adaptationPDF
Mr. Sulton Rahimov, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Melioration and Water Resources
Tajikistan, on the adaptation to climate change in Tajikistan
Mr. Antonio Guerreiro de Brito, President, River Basin Administration of the Northern region,
Portugal, on the integration of climate change and variability into transboundary agreements, with the example of Spain and Portugal
Mr. Badrakh Tsend, Director, Water Authority, Mongolia, on climate change and its effects on water resourcesPDF

Information session on activities under the UNECE Water Convention

Regional Dialogue and cooperation on water resources management in Central Asia
Mr. Volker Frobarth, GUZ and Mr. Bo Libert, UNECE
EU Water Initiative National Policy Dialogues
Ms. Gulnara Roll, UNECE
The Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters
Ms. Annukka Lipponen, UNECE
Support to implementation and conflict prevention
Ms. Francesca Bernardini, UNECE

Information session on the activities of the other UNECE environmental conventions

Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution
Ms. Albena Karadjova, Secretary to the Convention, UNECE
Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context
Mr. Nick Bonvoisin, Secretary to the Convention, UNECE
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
Ms. Ella Behlyarova, Secretary to the Convention, UNECE
Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents
Ms. Virginia Fusé, Programme Support Officer, UNECE
Protocol on Water and Health
Ms. Franziska Hirsch, UNECE