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New report highlights progress by Parties in the implementation of the Water Convention

Published: 04 October 2018

Since its adoption over 25 years ago, the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) has supported transboundary water cooperation across the pan-European region. Through a newly introduced reporting mechanism, Parties are now able to systematically review how far they have come in implementing the Convention. The reporting mechanism is the first of its kind in the field of transboundary water cooperation. What do the results of the first reporting exercise tell us about progress in the implementation of the Water Convention? 

The pilot reporting mechanism has revealed that there is a high level of implementation of the Water Convention, which reflects a concerted effort by the Parties to prevent, control and reduce any transboundary impact on transboundary waters. Parties recognize the concrete outcomes that such cooperation brings them, including improved human and environmental health and well-being, better water quality, pollution reduction and the effective management of floods and droughts.

These positive outcomes would not have been possible without the deliberate steps by the Parties to ensure that the provisions of the Water Convention are in place at both the national and transboundary level. 

At the national level, Parties have adopted laws and policies related to the prevention, control and reduction of transboundary impacts, the regulation of monitoring of both point and non-point pollution, and the adoption of environmental impact assessment laws and policies.

At the transboundary level, cooperative arrangements are in place for most of the transboundary waters shared between the Parties to the Water Convention. The reporting exercise has also demonstrated a commitment by the Parties to implement these cooperative arrangements through, for example, establishing of joint bodies, adopting basin management plans and regularly exchanging of data and information. Despite this progress, notable challenges remain, including the need to negotiate new cooperative arrangements where they are lacking, harmonize governance systems for water management at multiple levels, address financial and technical capacity gaps, better engage stakeholders in transboundary water management, and tackle climate variability. 

With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calling upon countries to implement integrated water resources management in transboundary waters by 2030 (SDG target 6.5), it is clear that the progressive efforts of Parties to implement the Water Convention have placed them in a good position to achieve this target; and demonstrated how the Water Convention, which is now open to all UN Member States, can support transboundary water cooperation.

The results of the reporting exercise under the Water Convention have been synthesized in a recently published report entitled Progress on Transboundary Water cooperation under the Water Convention


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