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UN-Water Zaragoza Conference Prepares for International Year of Cooperation

10 January 2012: The International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013 reiterated that the challenges of climate change, poverty eradication, sustainable development and population growth require cooperation.

The Conference, which took place in Zaragoza, Spain, from 8-10 January 2013, on the theme “Preparing for the 2013 International Year, Water Cooperation Making it Happen,” included sessions on: furthering water cooperation among nations and between stakeholders; furthering water cooperation in rural areas; and techniques and models to further water cooperation to improve water efficiency and services in cities.

Special presentations addressed the process to develop post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year of Water Cooperation, the international water conventions, mediation and dispute resolution techniques and approaches, and intensively developed aquifers. The Conference included discussion of a number of cases, including from Peru, Kenya, Guatemala, Bolivia, Madagascar, Ethiopia and India. River basin cases discussed included the Danube, the Ebro, Mekong and Jordan.

Among the Conference outcomes was a document titled “Lessons Learnt on Water Cooperation,” which outlines approaches for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) over water resources. The document highlights the importance of: legal frameworks and institutional arrangements; financing; participatory approaches and stakeholder involvement; shared vision; inclusion of cultural values; optimization of mutual benefits; awareness raising; and trust.

On lessons on to the role of tools for enabling cooperation, the paper details: the roles of international conventions, both multilateral and those addressing individual river basins; political will; permanent legal and administrative frameworks; previous experiences and technical support; flexibility; Water Users Associations (WUAs); local authorities; multi-stakeholder platforms; and institutional arrangements for stakeholder participation.

During the Conference, Brice Lalonde, Executive Coordinator of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), emphasized the importance of water reuse. Stressing the increasing pressures of population growth and climate change on transboundary water resources, Rahmat Bobokalonov, Minister of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, Tajikistan, noted the opportunities posed by the intergovernmental process to develop SDGs. [International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013 Website] [Conference Agenda] [Press Release, 7 January 2013] [Press Release 10 January 2013] [Lessons Learnt on Water Cooperation] [Tajikistan Minister of Land Reclamation and Water Resources' Address] [IISD RS Sources]