International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013
Preparing for the 2013 International Year. Water Cooperation: Making it Happen! 8-10 January 2013

UN initiatives in Water Cooperation

There is a long history in which water has acted as the key element around which collaboration has taken place. However, given the present challenges facing water resources, strengthening institutions and their capacity to find peaceful solutions is a growing imperative. Promoting water diplomacy and effective cooperative strategies must be part of the program to help achieve the desired water-related goals. The promotion of the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (the 1997 Watercourses Convention) and the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (the Water Convention) is crucial in establishing a global framework. Programs, such as UNESCO’s IHP From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential (PCCP) have also helped lay the groundwork for how this can be done. Mainstreaming this knowledge and expertise, by sharing the lessons learned and the benefits of cooperation will help continue to push these objectives forward.

As stressed in the conclusions of the Preparatory conference organized by Tajikistan in 2011, transboundary water cooperation needs to be fostered by joining and implementing regional and international agreements, bilateral and multilateral frameworks as well as existing mechanisms and modalities of water diplomacy.

The Dushanbe Rio+20 preparatory conference on Water Cooperation Issues recognized the need:

  • to improve water governance at national level through improvement of laws and regulatory frameworks, political and administrative accountability, and public participation and transparency;
  • to foster transboundary water cooperation by joining and implementing regional and international agreements, and bilateral and multilateral frameworks as well as existing mechanisms and modalities of water diplomacy. To address water cooperation issues at the local, national and, as appropriate, regional and international levels;
  • to develop best practices on financing cooperation initiatives which are adequate for different levels of cooperation;
  • to foster public participation by fully engaging and supporting all stakeholders, including those in governments, international organizations, private sector, civil society and academia at an appropriate level while considering cultural aspects in different cooperation initiatives;
  • to foster cooperation through a broader approach including, South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation initiatives for water resources management in particular through Capacity Development, exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learned, as well as sharing appropriate environmentally sound technologies and know-how;
  • to encourage partners in development cooperation to focus their assistance on the areas and countries that are off-track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, with special attention to water-related components of all Goals and other internationally agreed development goals, in accordance with national priorities and development plans;
  • to enhance capabilities for collection, assessment, dissemination and monitoring of water related data including hydrological, hydro-biological, hydrogeological and meteorological data, thus, contributing to the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services;
  • to strengthen scientific understanding of the water cycle through cooperation in joint observation and research, knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and transfer of technology, particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
  • to encourage Governments of countries sharing transboundary river basins and aquifers to take appropriate measures for joint water resources monitoring and information networks among all river basins and aquifers and to exchange information;
  • to encourage provisions for information exchange and public participation, as well as mutual assistance in case of extreme events including water related disaster.