2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference. Water and Sustainable Development: From Vision to Action. 15-17 January 2015

Special Regional Session: Ensuring implementation of the water-related SDGs through the existing regional platforms (UNECE region)

Date: 15 January 2015. 9.00-10.30
Venue: Etopía. Avda. Ciudad de Soria, 8. 50010 Zaragoza
Convened by Nataliya Nikiforova, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) secretariat

There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world and these basins cover 46% of the Earth’s land surface. Transboundary waters play a particularly important role in the pan-European region. More than 50% of the European and Asian population live in internationally-shared basins covering more than 40% of the European and Asian surface of the region. They link populations of different countries, are important ecosystems and their services are the basis for the income for millions of people and create hydrological, social and economic interdependencies between countries. Thus, the reasonable and sustainable management of transboundary waters is crucial for peoples’ livelihoods and well-being in the whole pan-European region.

A wide range of effective water management tools and good practices for water cooperation have been developed within the pan-European region, many of them applying the principles of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (also known as the Water Convention) which is a crucial framework for water governance in the pan-European region and beyond.

The Water Convention provides a unique legal framework and an intergovernmental platform for strengthening transboundary water cooperation and water governance by promoting an integrated approach to the transboundary water resources management. It requires Parties to take national measures for the protection and ecologically-sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. The Convention has been amended to be open to all Member States of the United Nations.

Cooperation is also needed at the national and international level to achieve access to safe water and sanitation for all. The Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention is a unique legal instrument, which aims to protect human health and well-being by better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and by preventing, controlling and reducing water-related diseases. It is the first international agreement of its kind adopted specifically to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone. The Protocol is a regional instrument open for the UNECE Member States.

2015 will be a crucial year for sustainable development with the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. The present regional session of the 2015 Zaragoza Conference “Ensuring implementation of the water-related SDGs through the existing regional platforms” with a particular focus on the UNECE region will bring together experts and stakeholders to discuss how the two above mentioned instruments as well as other existing regional platforms will support the implementation of the future SDGs. By showcasing case studies and analyzing recent trends in the region, the panelists will highlight those tools for implementation that have had positive outcomes in the region, focusing on their appropriateness considering the social, economic and environmental context of the region.


Describing the potential role to be played by the existing regional platforms to support the implementation of SDGs at different levels:

  • Global (UNECE Water Convention)                    
  • Regional (Protocol on Water and Health to the Water Convention and European Union (EU) Directives)
  • Subregional (Cooperation mechanisms in Central Asia)
  • Basin level involving EU and non-EU countries (Danube River basin)

Questions to be addressed by speakers

Will include the following: 

  • What are the implementation key issues and challenges for the region?  
  • How can these challenges be addressed and what are the tools that have been implemented in the region which have had positive outcomes?
  • How these are addressed by the different stakeholders (governments, academia, business, civil society, media)
  • Way forward


Overview presentation

  • Nataliya Nikiforova, UNECE

Panel discussion

  • UNECE Water Convention: from regional to global instrument, and its implementation on the ground            Minna Hanski, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland
  • Reporting under the Protocol on Water and Health and the EU Directives
    Luis Simas, Portuguese Water and Waste Services Regulation Authority (ERSAR)          
  • Cooperation mechanisms in Central Asia: achievements and challenges
    Iskandar Abdullaev, Executive Director, Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC)
  • Intersectoral cooperation to support implementation of SDGs at basin level
    Raimund  Mair, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River

Wrap-up and closing

  • Nataliya Nikiforova, UNECE



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About the Conference

>> Conveners and partners
>> Objectives and expected outcomes
>> Conference flyerPDF Document
>> AgendaPDF Document
>> StructurePDF Document
>> ParticipantsPDF Document


>> Accommodation
>> Travelling to Zaragoza
>> Your stay in Zaragoza
>> Map

The vision

>> Rio+20
>> Water and sustainable development
>> Global commitments on water
>> A post-2015 global goal for water
>> Water and the Open Working Group (OWG)
>> The role of actors involved

The action

>> Capacity development
>> Financing and economic instruments
>> Governance frameworks
>> Technology

Action on…

>> Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
>> Water Resources Management
>> Water Quality
>> Risk management

14 January: Pre-Conference Side events and Technical Visits

>> Technical visit: La Cartuja
>> Technical visit: The Ebro River Basin Authority and its Automatic System for Hydrologic Information (SAIH)
>> Technical visit: Expo + Water Park
>> New sources: Wastewater reuse
>> Local level actions in decentralized water solidarity towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
>> Water Footprint Assessment
>> Technological advances and Water Policy
>> Cultivando Agua Boa Programme
>> CODIA and water and energy in LAC
>> The fulfillment of the human right to water and sanitation

15 January: Setting the scene and the context

>> Achieving sustainable water for all in LAC
>> Achieving water security for Asia and the Pacific
>> Ensuring implementation of the water-related SDGs in Europe
>> Setting the scene

16 January: Whose action?

>> Academia
>> Business
>> Civil society
>> Governments and local authorities
>> Media and Communicators

17 January: Integrating knowledge and the way forward

>> Multi-stakeholder dialogue on tools for implementation


>> Cases
>> Conference daily
>> Conference Communications ReportPDF Document
>> Discussion forum
>> Information briefs on Water and Sustainable Development
>> Interviewing conference participants
>> Overview Papers
>> Presentations from participants
>> Session Reports
>> Tool Papers
>> Toolbox
>> Twitter Activity Report
>> Video recording of sessions
>> Video interviews with conference participants

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