The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has announced that an additional 15 countries have expressed interest in joining the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (the UNECE Water Convention). Iraq, Ghana and Togo have announced that the process is well-advanced accession consideration is already at parliament level.
Transboundary waters cover nearly half of the earth’s land surface and account for 60 per cent of global freshwater. Further, it is estimated that about 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in shared basins.
Shared water resources that must meet the requirements of all stakeholders are under pressure from population growth, climate change and unsustainable development patterns, making cooperation over their management vital.
The UNECE Water Convention has 43 signatories, including almost all countries in the pan-European region that share transboundary waters, Senegal and Chad. The convention is viewed as a key element in water cooperation.
An October 2019 UNECE working group on Integrated Water Resources Management brought together about 160 participants from over 70 countries and civil organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to assess progress achieved with respect to transboundary water cooperation, inter-sectoral issues in the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus, and climate change adaptation.
In particular, the meeting recognized the increasing cooperaton of the UNECE Group of Experts on Renewable Energy that promotes the sustainable deployment of renewable energy through greater integration of inter-sectoral considerations (e.g. water supply and treatment, agro-forestry, etc.).
Separately, the working group also held the first meeting of the expert group on water allocation, which discussed the development of a handbook for this purpose. Importantly the meeting also included a session on financing transboundary water cooperation, a clear priority for the participants.
Other countries that are considering accession to the UNECE Water Convention include Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Mauritania, Paraguay, Sudan and Tanzania.