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United Nations Secretary-General encourages countries to join UNECE Water Convention as it becomes global

Published: 29 November 2012

Rome, 28 November 2012 – The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) has played a crucial role in the improvement of water cooperation in the pan-European region over the past 20 years. This was strongly reaffirmed today by participants at the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties, who widely supported the opening of the Water Convention as a natural continuation of this unique success story, and a very needed development to jointly tackle the many challenges still lying ahead.

“Population growth, urbanization, increasing demands for food and energy, degraded ecosystems and climate change are straining water resources worldwide. Cooperation on the management of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwater is crucial for peace and security, reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, protecting ecosystems and promoting sustainable development” warned Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his opening message.

Mr. Ban also welcomed the forthcoming global opening of the Convention: “Your experience and the lessons you have learned will be invaluable. I encourage countries outside the UNECE region to join the Convention and contribute to its further development.”

Recognizing that two global instruments for water cooperation based on the same principles will soon be available, the Secretary-General insisted on the need to look for synergies. “The globalization of the Convention should also go hand in hand with the expected entry into force of the United Nations Watercourses Convention.  (…)  They complement each other and should be implemented in a coherent manner”.

Italy confirmed its readiness to commit in the future work under the Water Convention. Mr. Corrado Clini, Minister of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy underlined the opportunity “to share experiences and visions on the Water Convention with countries from beyond the ECE region. Water is a common resource, a source of life and friendship (…). We need to work together towards integrated management of transboundary waters and efficient water cooperation as a main component of sustainable development”.

Confirming the importance and usefulness of the opening of the Water Convention, Iraq and Tunisia expressed their interest in joining the Water Convention as soon as possible. “The State of Iraq will join the Convention once it is open to the non-ECE countries”, said Mr. Mohanad Al‑Shaibani, Minister of Water Resources of Iraq.


Note to editors

The 1992 UNECE Water Convention aims to strengthen national measures and transboundary cooperation for the protection and ecologically sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. Thirty-eight States and the European Union are Parties to the Convention.

The Meeting of the Parties is the main governing body of the Water Convention and meets every three years. Its sixth session in 2012, 20 years after the Convention’s signature, marks a crucial milestone in the Convention’s evolution into a global multilateral legal framework for transboundary water cooperation. The future perspectives for the Convention in the light its global opening were the focus of the high-level segment of the meeting on its first day, which was attended by more than 300 representatives of more than 60 countries, Parties and non-Parties, from the pan-European region, as well as from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and from numerous non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.

For more information on the session, please consult http://www.unece.org/env/water/mop6.html or contact water.convention@unece.org or francesca.bernardini@unece.org.

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