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The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes A.

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Presentation on theme: "The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes A."— Presentation transcript:

1 The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes A framework for improved management of shared waters Heide Jekel Chairperson to the Meeting of the Parties of the Water Convention

2 UNECE Transboundary Waters 200 transboundary rivers 40 transboundary lakes Around 120 transboundary aquifers 20 countries depend for more than 10% of their water resources on neighbouring countries 5 countries draw 75% of their resources from upstream countries


4 The Water Convention Signed on 17 March 1992 in Helsinki Entered into force on 6 October 1996 Amended in 2003 to allow accession to countries outside the UNECE region Protocol on Water and Health adopted in 1999, entered into force in 2005 Protocol on Civil Liability adopted in 2003

5 Parties to the Convention 35 countries and the European Community

6 Aims of the Convention Protection of transboundary waters by preventing, controlling and reducing transboundary impacts Ecologically sound and rational management of transboundary waters Reasonable and equitable use of transboundary waters  Conflict prevention Conservation and restoration of ecosystems

7 Obligations of the Parties General obligations which apply to all parties, inter alia –Licensing of waste-water discharges by the competent national authorities and monitoring of authorized discharges –Best environmental practice for non-point pollution sources –Minimization of the risk of accidental pollution Obligations which apply to riparian parties

8 Provisions relating to Riparian Parties I Conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements Establishment of joint bodies Consultation between Riparian Parties Joint monitoring and assessment

9 Provisions relating to Riparian Parties II Common research and development Exchange of information between Riparian Parties Warning and alarm systems Mutual assistance Public information

10 Tasks of joint bodies of riparian countries Identify, draw up an inventory of and exchange information on pollution sources Elaborate joint monitoring programmes Set emission limits and elaborate joint water quality objectives Develop concerted action plans Establish warning and alarm procedures Represent a forum for the exchange of information

11 Organization of work under the Convention The Meeting of the Parties –The highest decision body The Bureau –Organises the work between the MOPs The Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management –Mainly focuses on inter-sectoral water management issues to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impact The Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment –Helps Parties bordering transboundary waters to establish and implement joint programmes for monitoring the status of transboundary waters The Legal Board –Assists the other bodies on legal questions related to the Convention and its Protocols The Joint Expert Group on water and industrial accidents –Joint group of the Water Convention and the Industrial Accidents Convention dealing with technical issues, e.g. safety guidelines for pipelines The Task Force on Water and Climate –Discusses adaptation to climate change and flood issues

12 Areas of work of the Convention Assistance to implementation of the Convention –E.g. Guide for ratification and implementation Tools to deal with emerging issues relevant for transboundary water management –E.g. Recommendations on payment for ecosystem services –E.g. Guidance on Water and Climate Adaptation Assessment of the Convention’s effectiveness and future needs –E.g. First Assessment of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

13 The First Assessment 2007 Covers 140 rivers, 30 lakes and 70 aquifers Involved more than 150 experts from 40 countries Illustrates major problems in the region Currently second edition under preparation

14 Activities under the Convention Development of strategic and technical guidelines –E.g. strategies for monitoring and assessment of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters Capacity-building activities, e.g. –Workshops –Capacity for Water Cooperation project Pilot or implementation projects, such as –Pilot projects on monitoring and assessment –Support to transboundary water management in Dniester, Timok or Chu Talas rivers, Dam safety project in Central Asia National Policy Dialogues

15 Capacity for Water Cooperation Project (CWC) Focuses on EECCA countries Multidisciplinary training to experts UNECE together with national and international partners –GEF, IW:Learn, Swedish and Finish environment agencies 5 workshops until now –Legal basis of cooperation –Access to/exchange of information, public participation –Joint monitoring and assessment –River basin commissions Lessons learnt paper is currently developed –Water and Health

16 Dniester river – transboundary cooperation project UNECE and OSCE Improvement of bilateral cooperation between Ukraine and Moldova NGO involvement Ongoing Action Programme to improve transboundary management River basin website Draft Dniester Agreement

17 National Policy Dialogues (NPD) NPDs are carried out within the EECCA component of the EU Water Initiative –Implementation of the Millenium Development Goals Two thematic pillars –IWRM UNECE is taking care for that pillar –Water supply and sanitation Until now NPDs on IWRM in Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine Overall objectives –To initiate country-specific activities –To help set country priorities –To identify projects and develop capacities through a dialogue involving all stakeholders

18 UNECE Water Convention - Achievements and Strengths - Almost all transboundary waters in the region are covered by transboundary water agreements based on or influenced by the Convention (e.g. Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, Danube, Bug, Chu-Talas, Dniester) Even non-Parties participate in the work under the Convention Convention works in “water-stress” regions such as Central Asia and deals with emerging issues, such as climate change Cooperation with numerous UN agencies and other organizations

19 Thank you for your attention! More information can be found at

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