• English

The Water Convention: an opportunity to strengthen cooperation in integrated water resources management in Latin America and the Caribbean

Water resources in Latin America and the Caribbean are threatened by rising pressures related to unprecedented population growth and related exponential demand and increasing pollution, as well as the impact of extreme weather events. In the region, around 60% of freshwater resources reside in shared basins. Therefore, integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation, has become imperative to ensure the sustainable management and use of resources and the future of the societies that depend on them.

The Secretary of the Water Convention, Francesca Bernardini, presented the key role the Convention could play in the region in facilitating effective cooperation in integrated water resources management (IWRM) at the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council and Inter-American Council for Integral Development on 19 March 2019. Speakers such as Luis Almagro, OAS General Secretary, Danilo Türk, former president of Slovenia and Chairman of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, Francois Münger, Director of the Geneva Water Hub, and Marcos Regis da Silva, Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, highlighted the necessity to ensure access to water for all, leaving no one behind, thus requiring stronger cooperation between countries sharing water resources.

The discussion was part of the efforts taken by the OAS through the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development to stimulate dialogue for the generation of hemispheric strategies on IWRM, promoting the most successful international experiences using cooperation as a core mechanism, such as those under the Water Convention.

Over the past 5 decades, the OAS Member States have made significant progress in advancing IWRM. Most countries have incorporated IWRM into their development plans, modernized their laws and institutions, employed innovative financing mechanisms including public-private partnerships, encouraged the participation of civil society in their decision-making processes and implemented transparency and accountability mechanisms to reduce social conflict. However, despite efforts to strengthen cooperation on transboundary water management, reporting under SDG indicator 6.5.2 – for which UNECE and UNESCO are custodians – highlighted a low level on transboundary basins covered by operational arrangements in the region.

In this context, efforts to protect and ensure the quantity, quality and sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating and promoting cooperation will be essential in the next years, and several countries in the region have shown interest in acceding to the Water Convention. 

Photos of the meeting:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/oasoea/sets/72157679443641778