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Global water workshop promotes coordinated attainment of global development goals while managing transboundary basins

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require coordination across sectors, coherent policies, and integrated planning. It is increasingly clear that authorities need to “break the silos” of their sectoral mandates and work in better coordination across different sectors.

The trade-offs between development areas were at heart of the discussions at the Global Stock-Taking Workshop on Assessments of the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus and Response Measures in Transboundary Basins, held on 6 and 7 December 2016 in Geneva. The meeting was organized back to back with the fourth meeting of the Task Force on the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus, held on 8 December in Geneva.

Growing pressures from development, population growth and climate change call for intersectorally coordinated, cooperative transboundary approaches to the management of water, land, energy and environmental resources. Such approaches are necessary to development at large, as the SDGs — and in particular SDG 6 (water and sanitation), SDG 2 (food security and sustainable agriculture), SDG 7 (access to energy), and SDG 15 (protection and sustainable use of ecosystems) — are closely interlinked.

The aim of the workshop was not only to review the current understanding and practical application of the nexus concept, but also to discuss possible management responses for transboundary cooperation with representatives of Governments and organizations. The issues in focus included methodologies for integrated assessments and initiatives for addressing intersectoral issues such as frictions about conflicting water uses in transboundary basins and lessons learned from assessed basins. Special attention was paid to how to put into practice a nexus approach, notably through synergic solutions such as multi-purpose design and operation of infrastructure and developing intersectoral coordination arrangements. The availability and accessibility of reliable data and information sharing were identified as key to finding sustainable solutions to nexus challenges.

At its fourth meeting, the Task Force reviewed the status of nexus assessments carried out under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) in South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and discussed follow-up activities and future assessment work, also in North Africa. A number of transboundary dialogues in transboundary river basins, informed by technical analysis, have already been carried out, bringing together different sectoral authorities to identify concrete cooperative opportunities to improve resource management and the protection of waters.

The meetings brought together more than 120 participants, representing governments (water and energy authorities in particular), river basin organizations, specialized agencies, international and non-governmental organizations and academia. The conclusions from both the workshop and the Task Force meeting will be used to foster transboundary cooperation and provide assistance to countries and joint bodies, such as transboundary commissions.

The workshop was organized under the leadership of the Government of Finland, with the support of the UNECE Water Convention secretariat, and in cooperation with the following partners: the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the European Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Project International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW:LEARN), the Global Water Partnership, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

For more information on the meetings please visit:

Workshop: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=41736#/

Task Force: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=41738#/


Annukka Lipponen
Environmental Affairs Officer
E-mail: annukka.lipponen@unece.org
Tel: +41 22 917 26 66