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Chad becomes the first African country to join the Water Convention

Published: 27 February 2018

Chad has become the first country outside the pan-European region to accede to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

A landlocked country in Central Africa, Chad faces significant water management challenges and largely depends on water resources shared with its neighbours — Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. In a context of growing water scarcity, ensuring effective cooperation between countries for the management of water resources is emerging as an increasingly important foundation for sustainable development, peace and stability in the region.

By acceding to the Water Convention, Chad has confirmed its strong commitment to the sustainable management of transboundary waters through the principles and rules of international law. In doing so, the country has also demonstrated its support for the process of universalizing the Convention’s approach to cooperation, which has been gaining increasing interest worldwide, and particularly in Africa.

Chad’s accession to the Water Convention builds on decades of cooperation with neighbouring countries. In joining, the authorities of Chad have further committed to promote the Convention among member countries of basins to which Chad belongs, in particular in the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Niger Basin Authority.

His Excellency Mr. Sidick Abdelkerim Haggar, Minister of Environment, Water and Fisheries of Chad, explained the country’s situation driving the accession process: “Our country, Chad, is one of the countries having large basins; Lake Chad is the fourth largest lake in Africa. The Lake Chad Basin is drained by two main rivers: the Chari and the Logone, which are largely supplied by tributaries outside Chad. In addition to these surface waters, the Nubian sandstone aquifer system is shared between Chad, Libya, Sudan and Egypt. All these reasons explain the need for our country to join the Water Convention, which provides a framework for cooperation and exchange at the regional and international levels”.

UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova stated, “Sustainable water management is of cross-cutting importance for achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. Chad’s accession, the first outside the pan-European region, comes as a powerful symbol of the growing recognition of the tangible benefits that practical frameworks for cooperation, such as the Water Convention, can bring. UNECE stands ready to share with Chad and other countries its experience gained in over 20 years of servicing the Water Convention, bringing countries together to reach sustainable solutions in response to the challenges – and potential – of managing shared water resources”.

Mr. Peter Kovacs, Chair of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention, congratulated Chad on the accession and welcomed the country among the community of Parties. “Chad’s accession is a ground-breaking development for the Convention and I hope that this accession will motivate other countries to join”, Mr. Kovacs said, noting that Chad had already played such a role among other African countries in the framework of the lake Chad Basin Commission and in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

The process of acceding to the Water Convention has already helped to bring key stakeholders in Chad together to address concerns and priorities for the country’s water management. These include government, including the Ministry of Environment, Water and Fisheries, the Ministry of Production, Irrigation and Agricultural Equipment and the General Secretariat of the Government, as well as parliament and civil society.

Chad’s accession will support improved water management at national level and provide a robust framework for strengthening transboundary cooperation moving forward.

Note to editors:

About the Water Convention

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes serviced by UNECE has, since its entry into force in 1996, provided an important framework for improving the management of transboundary surface water and groundwater resources in the pan-European region. In March 2016, the Water Convention became a global multilateral legal and intergovernmental framework for transboundary water cooperation, open to accession by all United Nations Member States.

The Convention aims to protect and ensure the quality, quantity, and sustainable management of transboundary water resources by facilitating and promoting cooperation. An important strength of the Convention lies in its institutional framework, based on the Meeting of the Parties (MOP), its subsidiary bodies such as working groups and task forces, and a permanent secretariat. This framework assists Parties in the implementation and progressive development of the Convention, including through exchange of experience and good practices, elaboration of guidelines and recommendations, projects on the grounds and capacity building. The Convention works in a variety of areas such as climate change adaptation and the water-food-energy ecosystems nexus in transboundary basins.

Cooperation under the Water Convention can accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably target 6.5 which aims, by 2030, to" implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation". UNECE, together with UNESCO, is a custodian agency for SDG indicator 6.5.2, which measures transboundary water cooperation.

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About Chad’s accession

On 22 February, Chad submitted its instruments of accession to the Water Convention to the United Nations in New York.

Chad initiated the process of accession to the Water Convention in early 2017 with the organization of a national workshop in March, preceded by a large preparatory meeting in February 2017, organized with the support of France and Switzerland. 

Chad’s accession to the Water Convention will enter into force 90 days following this date. As a Party to the Convention, Chad will participate in the eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention, to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 10 to 12 October 2018.

Chad has been a party to the New York Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses since 2012.

This press release has been translated in Arabic

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