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UNECE Water Convention Discusses Best Practices for Transboundary Water Cooperation

UNECE23 September 2013: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) held a workshop to inspire best practices in institutional and legal arrangements and procedures among joint bodies for transboundary water cooperation and river basin commissions.

The workshop was the first in a series of two workshops, organized during the International Year of Water Cooperation, to support discussions on institutional and legal arrangements for transboundary water management, as well as to highlight the importance of good water governance in the post-2015 development agenda.

The 'River Basin Commissions and other Joint Bodies for Transboundary Water Cooperation: Legal and Institutional Aspects' workshop showcased evolutions in transboundary water management. The International Commission for the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin presented its transition from a body focused on navigation to a commission working on integrated water resources management (IWRM). The International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine shared its experience on the expansion of cooperation in the Rhine Basin. The binational Authority of Lake Titicaca described how it implemented a master plan to address resource use in its lakes and rivers. The Mekong River Commission presented its organizational reform experience.

Over 120 participants discussed the establishment of new agreements and institutions, to guide efforts in aquifers and basins not covered by agreements. One such example is the cooperation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan on environment and hydrology in the upper Amu Darya Basin. According to UNECE, 158 of the world's 263 international river basins lack a cooperative management framework.

Plenary sessions and working groups considered methods and tools for daily cooperation, such as coordinated or joint monitoring, exchange of information and formulation of joint action plans. A fourth topic focused on conflict prevention and dispute settlement.

The workshop, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23-24 September 2013, was co-organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environmental Facility's (GEF) International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW: LEARN), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). The event was funded by the Governments of Estonia, Finland, Germany and Luxembourg.

A document with workshop reference material will be shared on the workshop website. [UNECE Press Release] [Workshop Website]