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Cooperation under Water Convention gains momentum, but global efforts must be further strengthened

Improving transboundary water cooperation across the world requires constant dialogue and discussions between countries to exchange good practices, lessons learned and progress achieved. In this regard, on 28-30 May, the second joint meeting of the Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment and the Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management was held under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). This meeting brought together more than 130 participants from 74 countries. It aimed to discuss progress in transboundary cooperation, results and lessons learned from the first reporting exercise under the Water Convention and on SDG indicator 6.5.2, and to prepare for the upcoming Eighth Session of the Meeting of the Parties.

The meeting included a special celebration on the occasion of Chad’s accession to the Water Convention organized by the Permanent Mission of Chad and UNECE, which was chaired by the ambassador of Chad, H.E. Mr. Malloum Bamanga Abbas, and attended by several ambassadors. The Secretary-General of Chad’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Fisheries, Mr. Moussa Mahamat Alifa, described how accession to the Convention had helped to reinforce national water governance, and shared experiences and lessons learned with the other countries present. The Executive Secretary of UNECE, Ms Olga Algayerova, welcomed Chad’s accession and encouraged other countries from outside the UNECE region to follow. In the ensuing discussions, several countries including Senegal and Iraq shared developments on their advancement in the accession process. Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and others also expressed interest. 

Shortly after the end of the meeting, Senegal’s parliament passed a law on accession to the Water Convention, which demonstrates the growing interest in the Convention among African countries, including those with advanced transboundary water cooperation.

Over the past 25 years, the Convention has proven its effectiveness and has made a real difference on the ground by significantly advancing transboundary water cooperation. Currently, the Convention counts 42 Parties, including almost all countries in the pan-European region sharing transboundary waters, and Chad. Increasing global participation in the Water Convention therefore offers great opportunities to boost water cooperation efforts worldwide. In this regard, the meeting reviewed the draft strategy for the implementation of the Convention at the global level.

Furthermore, during the working groups meeting, the results of the first ever global monitoring exercise on the status of transboundary water cooperation in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 6.5.2, for which UNECE and UNESCO are co-custodians, was discussed. It showed that transboundary water cooperation is still not operational in many regions and basins. There is therefore an urgent need to accelerate efforts to strengthen cooperation to be able to face growing water challenges and prevent conflicts.

The meeting also provided the chance to take stock of progress achieved in regional projects on benefits assessment for water cooperation, activities in the field of water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus and climate change adaptation. Finally, the meeting included an extended interactive session on monitoring, assessment and data exchange in transboundary basins.

The meeting was a preparatory step for the eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties under the Convention (MOP, to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 10-12 October 2018). The upcoming session of the MOP will be the first held in Asia and the first one with membership of the Convention beyond the pan-European region, symbolically marking the beginning of a new era for the Convention. Important documents will be adopted at this MOP including the new programme of work for 2019-2021, which has been developed through a consultative process involving Parties, non-Parties and partners from all over the world.

For more information see: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=46374