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Eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention

10 - 12 October 2018

Astana, Kazakhstan

The eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes will take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 10-12 October 2018. The meeting is organized by the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which services the Water Convention.

It will be preceded, on 9 October, by a half-day high-level workshop on financing transboundary basin development,  jointly organized by Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Asian Development Bank, GEF IW:LEARN, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and the Water Convention secretariat.

More than 400 representatives of Ministries responsible for water, foreign affairs and development cooperation - from both Parties and non-Parties to the Convention - together with representatives of joint bodies, international and non-governmental organizations and academia from all regions of the world are expected to attend.

The Water Convention represents a key United Nations legal and institutional framework promoting the quantity, quality and sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation. It is a unique instrument for supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - in particular SDG target 6.5 which calls for transboundary water cooperation - the prevention of conflicts and the promotion of peace and regional integration.

Originally negotiated as a regional framework for the pan-European region, it was amended to allow accession by all United Nations Member States. The eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties in Astana will mark a historical milestone in the Convention’s development as it will see the participation of the first Parties from Africa.

The Meeting will consider different aspects of transboundary water cooperation that have been in the 2016-2018 Convention’s programme of work, such as the benefits of transboundary cooperation, the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus, climate change adaptation and industrial safety. Progress in implementing the Water Convention and transboundary water cooperation more broadly will be reviewed, notably by launching the first report on the implementation of the Water Convention, and by discussing the first reporting on SDG indicator 6.5.2, jointly supported by UNECE and UNESCO (the two co-custodian agencies for indicator 6.5.2). Finally, the meeting will adopt a strategy for the implementation of the Convention at the global level and the Convention’s programme of work for 2019-2021.

The high-level segment on 10 October will discuss how to share waters in the context of growing water scarcity, the relevant impacts on development, peace and stability and how the Convention can promote reasonable, equitable and sustainable water allocation and benefit sharing.

The agenda, official and unofficial documents for the Meeting of the Parties will be available on this page by early August.

On 28-30 May 2018, the second joint meeting of the Working Group on IWRM and on Monitoring and Assessment reviewed the documents and decisions to be submitted to the Meeting of the Parties, including the draft strategy for the implementation of the Convention at the global level; the draft decision on designation and responsibilities of focal points; the draft revised rules of procedures of the Convention and the draft programme of work for 2019-2021.  All the documents discussed at the Working groups meeting are accessible here.

The Meeting will feature a high-level segment that will focus on the importance of transboundary water cooperation, and particularly the role played by the Water Convention, to guarantee that the sharing of water resources and their derived benefits contributes to the well-being of people and the planet and helps to improve prosperity and foster peace.

The high-level segment will provide an opportunity for a strategic discussion between Parties; other States, including prospective Parties from all regions; international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia. It will consist of two moderated high-level panel discussions, followed by interventions from the floor, with guiding questions.

Delegations are encouraged to submit text of their interventions for the high-level segment in electronic form to the secretariat (water.convention@un.org) prior to the meeting. In light of the limited time available, interventions from the floor should not exceed three minutes. In order to facilitate the running of the high-level segment, delegations planning to make a statement are invited to inform the secretariat in advance.

High-level speakers are also invited to bring an object to illustrate their presentation and its main messages during the panel discussions and in their interventions from the floor. These objects will be become part of a piece of work illustrating the progress in and challenges of transboundary water cooperation worldwide.

Panel discussion 1-Transboundary water cooperation and water allocation: preventing conflict and ensuring peace and stability

Recently, two important panels have sent strong political messages on this topic. The High-Level Panel on Water has stressed that the strengthening of transboundary water cooperation can be a powerful tool for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace has emphasized the role of water as a driver of peace and highlighted the importance of international water law and the principles, norms and institutions that it has developed in promoting stability and preventing conflicts.

A key dimension of transboundary cooperation is the need to share water and benefits it generates in a reasonable, equitable and sustainable manner. Balancing different water needs and responding to water-food-energy-ecosystem interdependencies is a common challenge in the face of increasing demands from different sectors, growing water scarcity and climate variability.
Development in transboundary basins also requires innovative financial instruments that recognize the need for transboundary water cooperation and foster coordination between all countries and sectors in the basin in order to ensure that investments have positive and sustainable impact. In that connection, participants will be informed about the outcomes of the High-level workshop on financing transboundary basin development (Astana, 9 October 2018).

Panel discussion 2- Sharing waters in the context of growing water scarcity – how can transboundary water cooperation make a difference?

Water scarcity already affects every continent, including regions that have been traditionally water-rich, and is of growing concern. Population growth, rising incomes and expanding cities are driving an unprecedented rise in water demands, while supply is becoming more erratic and uncertain owing to climate change and variability. About 2 billion people are currently living in water-stressed areas and it is anticipated that by 2025, half of the world’s population will do so. While scarcity has the potential to aggravate conflicts between riparian countries, cooperation can increase water use efficiency and become an important part of the solution in addressing this global challenge.
Building on experience with implementation of the Water Convention and with transboundary water cooperation in general, the session will provide an opportunity to consider ways of sharing and allocating limited water resources among countries and sectors in transboundary basins, with due regard for the environment, and to examine the ways in which cooperation can increase the resilience of society.

The eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties should attract about 400 participants. This will offer plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas, discuss achievements and explore possibilities for future work on transboundary water cooperation with colleagues.

To foster such exchanges, participating countries and organizations are invited to organize or contribute to side events. Countries or organizations can either take the lead in the organization of a side event being responsible for its whole programme, or propose a contribution (a speaker, a case study) to a side event organized by others.

The secretariat will facilitate the matching between the different proposals received and will be responsible for the overall programme and schedule of side events during the Meeting of the Parties. In case of several expressions of interest for the same topic, the secretariat and/ or the selected side event organizers will take the decision.

Side events will last 75 minutes and there will be 15 slots available, namely 3 in the lunch breaks of 10-12 October, i.e. Wednesday, Thursday Friday, respectively, and 3 in the morning of Thursday and Friday, respectively.

There will be the possibility to arrange for interpretation during the side events but organizers might need to cover the relevant costs as the host country will not be able to provide interpretation for all the side events. Otherwise, there won’t be any other costs for the organization of the side events.

The deadline for submitting proposals for side-events is 15 August 2018. Proposals should be submitted through the link below:


Meeting venue and registrations:

The meeting will be held at the Astana EXPO Congress Center, 55/k3, Mangilik El avenue, Astana, Kazakhstan (https://expo2017astana.com/en/page_id=65). Access to the meeting venue will only be granted to registered participants who bring along a personal identification document.

Delegates attending the meeting are requested to register by 20 September 2018 using the following link: https://uncdb.unece.org/app/ext/meeting-registration?id=QiWYQM

For assistance with registration, please contact the secretariat by e-mail (Mayola.lidome@un.org)

Participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible but not later than on 20 September 2018.

Financial support and visa arrangements

Some funds are available to support participation of some nominated representatives from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, eligible for financial support. Requests for financial support should be submitted together with the financial support request form duly signed by the authorized high-level official and registration in the above mentioned system to the UNECE secretariat (mayola.lidome@un.org) as soon as possible but not later than 15 August 2018. Due to the limitations of funds available delegates are encouraged to request financial support as soon as possible and well before the deadline, additional information can be found in our financial support policy document, available in English, French, Russian, Spanish.

Participants requiring entry visas to Kazakhstan should indicate it clearly in the registration form and initiate visa procedures at least five weeks before the meeting. Kazakhstan visas are usually processed in 5 to 8 business days. The host country will provide participants with an invitation letter, which should be used to apply for a visa at the nearest Kazakhstan Diplomatic representation. For a full list with contact information of the Embassies of the Republic of Kazakhstan please check here: http://mfa.gov.kz/files/593d8bed31d77.pdf.

Pre-arranged visa can be obtained on arrival for nationals arriving from a country without a Kazakh diplomatic mission. In this case they need to have an invitation letter and obtain an approval from the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Participants requiring entry visas to Kazakhstan should indicate it clearly in the registration form and initiate visa procedures at least five weeks before the meeting. The host country will provide participants with an invitation letter, which should be used to apply for a visa at the nearest consular office of the Republic of Kazakhstan. For a full list with contact information of the consular offices of the Republic of Kazakhstan please check: http://mfa.gov.kz/files/593d8bed31d77.pdf

For nationals arriving from a country without a consular office of the Republic of Kazakhstan visa can be obtained on arrival at the International Airports in Astana and Almaty cities . In this case, visa support will be provided to the registered participants by the host country. For more detailed information, please check the website or contact the secretariat (Tolganay.rysbekova@un.org).

Visa-free regime

Citizens of the following countries have the right to entry to the Republic of Kazakhstan without visa for up to thirty days:
Australia; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Canada; Chile; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Malta; Mexico; Monaco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Korea; Romania; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; United States of America

Visa free entry

Citizens of the following countries and territories can visit Kazakhstan without a visa:
Argentina (up to 30 days), Armenia (up to 90 days), Azerbaijan (up to 30 days), Belarus (up to 90 days), Brazil (up to 30 days), Ecuador (up to 30 days), Georgia (up to 90 days) Kyrgyzstan (up to 90 days), Mongolia (up to 90 days), Republic of Korea (up to 30 days), Republic of Moldova (up to 90 days), Russian federation (up to 90 days), Serbia (up to 30 days), Tajikistan (up to 30 days), Turkey (up to 30 days), Ukraine (up to 90 days), United Arab Emirates (up to 30 days) and Uzbekistan (up to 30 days).

In accordance with the rules of procedure for the sessions of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention, credentials of all representatives of Parties and the names of alternate representatives and advisers shall be submitted to the secretariat.

To facilitate the procedure of verification of credentials, Parties to the Convention are requested to inform the secretariat of the name(s) of their representative(s) at their earliest convenience, and to submit the credentials or copy of them to the secretariat (water.convention@un.org), in advance of the session, preferably by 1 October 2018. Those Parties that submitted a copy of their credentials should present the originals to the secretariat upon arrival at the meeting in Astana.

Credentials, which are normally issued either by the Head of State or Government or by the Minister for Foreign Affairs or any other person duly empowered in accordance with national legislation to do so, should indicate the composition of the delegation, including the Head of delegation, and should state that the respective delegation is empowered to participate in the meeting and to take decisions on behalf of the respective Government, following the applicable the rules of procedure (see an example of credentials in English, Russian and French)

For more details on practical information please consult the practical information note available English, French, Russian and Spanish.

At its eighth session, the Meeting of the Parties will consider the composition of its Implementation Committee and elect 5 members of the Committee to replace the members whose term ends at the eighth session.

The relevant procedure is set out in Decision VI/1 (ECE/MP.WAT/37/Add.2, E, F, R), adopted by the Meeting of the Parties at its sixth session. Accordingly, nominations for Implementation Committee members should be sent to the secretariat at water.convention@unece.org by no later than 18 July 2018 i.e. 12 weeks before the opening of the eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties during which the election is to take place.

Each nomination should be accompanied by the curriculum vitae of the candidate (not exceeding 600 words) and may include supporting material. The secretariat will distribute the nominations and the curricula vitae with the supporting material, if any, as soon as they become available.

More information can be found in the attached note (E, F, R).

The following candidatures have been received by the Water Convention secretariat:

Name of candidateProposing PartyCurriculum vitae and supporting material
Mr. Martins PaparinskisLatviaCurriculum vitae
Publication and talks
Mr. Pedro Cunha SerraPortugalCurriculum vitae
Mr. Ivan ZavadskySlovakiaCurriculum vitae

Information on the role and responsibilities of the Implementation Committee can be found here.