Water for peace on World Water Day: Building momentum for transboundary cooperation through UN Water Conference – World

„Action for water is action for peace…Achieving it relies on greater cooperation…We must accelerate efforts to work together across borders, and urge all countries to join the United Nations Water Convention — which promotes the management and sharing of water resources in a sustainable manner.” .”

His Message for World Water Day (March 22), this year's focus is on „Water for Peace,” with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres further strengthening the rising political momentum for water cooperation through the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Waterways and International Lakes. UN Water Convention.

Draft UN on Water and Sanitation, UN for projects. Endorsed this week by the High-Level Panel, it calls for United Nations support to help member states adopt, implement and comply with the Water Convention. Water, Protecting Ecosystems and Promoting Peace.” This marks an important step towards full endorsement of the strategy by the UN Executive Board.

There is a conference today 52 parties. Building on it 30 years of achievement Facilitating cooperation in Europe, its membership is expanding rapidly, especially in Africa (90% of freshwater sharing basins, and the Convention is expected to soon welcome its 10th party).

Since the treaty was opened globally to all UN member states in 2016, Chad, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Cameroon have become the first African countries to accede, before five countries join in 2023 — Nigeria, Iraqnamibia, Panama and Gambia. More than 20 are in the process of joining, including Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Costa Rica, which are in the final stages of joining.

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The need for global water cooperation

More than 60% of global freshwater flows across national borders such as the Congo, Danube, Amazon and Mekong, basins of lakes such as Lake Geneva or the Great Lakes, or more than 450 globally identified groundwater reserves.

With increasing water scarcity worldwide, transboundary water cooperation is considered critical for regional stability, conflict prevention and sustainable development. Climate change impacts such as droughts and floods, as well as pollution and increasing demand for use, are placing increasing pressure on water resources in both developing and developed countries, and are one of the key drivers of momentum for cooperation.

However, progress is very slow. As new data from the 3rd Reporting Exercise on SDG Indicator 6.5.2 on Transboundary Water Cooperation coordinated by UNESCO with UNESCO shows, only 26 of the 153 countries sharing water resources globally have all of their transboundary areas covered by operational arrangements for water. Collaboration, compared to 24 in 2020. Only about 10 new cross-border agreements have been signed.

UNECE Executive Secretary Tatiana Molcean said „The benefits of water cooperation go beyond conflict prevention. It accelerates progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, improves food security, protects ecosystems, improves resilience to climate change and fosters regional integration. Through the next Meeting of the Parties in Slovenia this October, they will access to accelerate their efforts to participate in the conference.” The Water Convention is served by UNECE.

Water agreements as a foundation for peace

The importance of water treaties to promote peace and development has a long history: B.C. Since the first entry into force of the Sumerian Water Treaty in 2550, which ended the water dispute along the Tigris River, the UN has With up to 100 treaties signed by the Parties to the Water Convention, treaties can play an important role in fostering peace and broader cooperation.

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Convention parties must prevent, control and reduce negative impacts on the quality and quantity of water across borders, use shared water in a fair and equitable way, and ensure their sustainable management through cooperation. Parties bordering the same territorial waters are obliged to cooperate by concluding specific agreements and establishing joint bodies.

Notably, the Water Convention supported the creation of agreements on basins such as the Trin River Basin (shared by Albania, North Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo (S/RES/1244) and Montenegro), even in complex political or diplomatic settings. and the Dniester River basin (shared by Ukraine and Moldova).

The Convention has supported the establishment of river basin organizations and other collaborative institutions, providing platforms for dialogue, negotiations and improved water resource management, such as the Su and Talas River Commission shared by Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Improving dam safety across Central Asia.

Basin organizations often persist or contribute to peace-building even during conflict, such as the Lake Chad Basin Commission established in 1964, whose efforts have today been further strengthened by the accession of Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon to the Water Conference. All countries bordering Lake Chad, except Niger, have joined the convention to support shared management efforts. The lake has decreased by 90% in the last 60 years.

Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau have supported the establishment of a water conference. Pioneering cooperation in the Senegalo-Mauritanian watershed.

Transboundary water cooperation is a powerful tool for strengthening the foundations of peace in post-conflict settings, such as the Sava River, which flows through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. It signed the Sava Treaty, the first post-war intergovernmental agreement in the former Yugoslavia, and created the Sava Commission by four states — all of which are parties to the Water Convention — to implement joint management only. river, but strengthened trust and cooperation in the region. The Sava Agreement was facilitated by the Water Convention.

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The Water Enforcement Committee also provides a mechanism to help resolve water-related issues. An example of its value came when Montenegro requested the group's involvement in 2019 regarding the potential transboundary impact of small hydropower plants planned in Albania.

Beyond its growing community of parties, a total of about 130 countries participate in UN Water Conference activities, sharing experience with countries, basin organizations and international partners, and benefiting from practical resources in areas ranging from water allocation to financing climate change adaptation. and disaster risk reduction in shared basins. Thus, the Convention provides a much-needed intergovernmental platform to accelerate transnational cooperation and increase political will and capacity.

UN For details of World Water Day events supported by the Water Conference, visit: https://unece.org/environmental-policy/events/un-world-water-day-2024

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