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Global water law provisions, sustainable development and the SDGs Marie-Laure Vercambre, Green Cross International on behalf of the UNWC Global Initiative.

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Presentation on theme: "Global water law provisions, sustainable development and the SDGs Marie-Laure Vercambre, Green Cross International on behalf of the UNWC Global Initiative."— Presentation transcript:

1 Global water law provisions, sustainable development and the SDGs Marie-Laure Vercambre, Green Cross International on behalf of the UNWC Global Initiative

2 STATUS OF GOVERNANCE OF TRANSBOUNDARY BASINS - > 60% of transboundary basins do not have agreements - 80% of existing agreements are bilateral/don’t necessarily involve all basin states - Many agreements do not:  Provide for regular data-sharing/ notification  Establish water allocation & benefit-sharing criteria/processes  Contain dispute prevention/settlement rules  Apply to entire river basin / aquifer system, etc. 2

3 3 WHY PROMOTE THE WATER CONVENTIONS?  Water sometimes the “missing link”  Complement other treaties/ conventions  Horizontal coordination, harmonization, inclusive approach  Can support climate change adaptation  Knowledge and information exchange  Accountability & transparency: clear responsibilities and rights and incorporate other stakeholders UNECE and WWF August,3

4 WHY  Water is “ Local” – yes – but guidance and common frameworks needed  Foster a common language and shared understanding >> cooperation  Facilitate negotiations (agenda & procedures available)  Need to harmonize between and in countries  No good (technical) work can be done sustainably on environment and eco systems without good water management and enabling legal frameworks  Contribute to and guidance for SDGs especially goal 6 implementation 4

5 The SDG targets 6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate 6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes 11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations 5

6 Indicators and implementation % of existing and new agreements on transboundary water management and river basin agreements are strong indicators of formalized cooperation Existing and future mechanisms for cooperation connected to the conventions can facilitate implementation (and no need for new mechanisms) (ECE WC, working groups, RAMSAR, CBD etc) Capacity Development on international water law and treaties will enhance the chance of joint implementation Treaties and their mechanisms can assist in making the connection between global, national and cross boundaries monitoring and implementation 6

7 Improving the governance of transboundary water resources, at all levels UN Watercourses convention, convention on biodiversity, RamSAR convention, UN Convention on desertification Agreements on Rhine, Danube, Dniester, Senegal, Niger, Nile, Mekong, etc. Congo, Sava Right to water & sanitation Global Regional Basin Community, individual SADC Protocol, EU WFD & directives, UNECE Water Convention (initially), Espoo & Aarhus Sub-basin 7

8 Conventions (water-related) 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention/ UNWC/ New York convention) – in force 17 August 2014 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE Water Convention/ ECEWC/ Helsinki Convention) – in force 1996; amendment in force 2013 but waiting for 3 countries) 1999 Protocol Water and Health – in force 2005 ILC Draft Articles on the law of Transboundary Aquifers – no treaty “ status” 8

9 Why did countries accede? Water safety high priority You cannot do it alone – cooperation needed Principles of international law/ cooperation Makes for a complete set of laws at various levels on protection and enhancement of water quality, water quantity and the infrastructure for international watercourses general obligation to protect and maintain the ecosystems of international watercourses also in other treaties. 9

10 10 Do we need more global “legislation”? Rivers and lakes do not respect political boundaries – indeed, they are often the basis of them. What mechanisms exist to prevent water from being held, diverted, or polluted by one country to the disadvantage of others? Which are the procedures or frameworks for considering claims or resolving disputes over transboundary water resources? Three quarters of the world’s countries face potential disputes with neighbours over shared rivers, lakes, wetlands or aquifers 10

11 WHY promote the conventions? Why do we need global “legislation”?  National laws do not provide for “across the river”  Harmonization even within countries / between basins with same riperians; States struggle to implement multiple agreements in a coordinated fashion  National laws e.g. non-existent, outdated  Stimulate cooperation among countries and involvement of stakeholders at large 11

12 WHY promote the conventions? Why do we need global “legislation”? (2)  Complement other treaties/ conventions  Instrument for climate change adaptation talks and Transboundary Aquifers draft convention  knowledge and information exchange  Accountability & transparency: clear responsibilities and rights and incorporate other stakeholders  Facilitate negotiations (agenda & procedure available) 12

13 Prevent Potential conflict Development related Disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute in the context of economic and social development Control of Water Resources (state and non-state actors): where water supplies, hydropower or access to water is at the root of tensions Political Tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal 13

14 Actions: All countries become contracting states to one or both conventions; Current contracting states to call on their neighbours and partner countries to join the conventions as well; (diplomatic efforts/” adoption plans”; development cooperation) All states to employ their best efforts to promote both conventions’ broad(er) accession and effective implementation, including: – Involving joint river basin organizations in the process and seeking guidance from their experts; 14

15 Actions: Authorizing the regional economic integration organizations of which they may be part to accede to the conventions and engage in their implementation; Asking UN General Assembly to give a mandate to an appropriate UN agency or program to lead efforts to raise awareness, promote accession and implementat° of the conventions within UN system; Requesting the High Level Political Forum on sustainable development to incorporate the implementation of the conventions into their monitoring framework; 15

16 Actions UN Water, the relevant UN agencies, programs, IUCN, the World Bank, and other dev’t institutions to provide financial and technical assistance to countries through the ratificat° and implementat° processes; Int’l water community at large, incl. non-state actors in the fields of water, conservation, climate change, human rights, gender, to raise awareness of the value and importance of the conventions; especially among ministers and parliamentarians, for getting additional accessions necessary for the Conventions to have a real global coverage and impact. 16

17 Resources: blications/WAT_Guide_to_implementing_the_WC/E CE_MP.WAT_39_Guide_to_implementing_water_conv ention_small_size_ENG.pdf blications/WAT_Guide_to_implementing_the_WC/E CE_MP.WAT_39_Guide_to_implementing_water_conv ention_small_size_ENG.pdf tion.shtml tion.shtml 17

18 Resources _waters.shtml _waters.shtml un-watercourses-convention/ un-watercourses-convention/ services/transboundary-water-management/ services/transboundary-water-management/ diplomacy diplomacy 18

19 Resources home/main/ramsar/1_4000_0 (RAMSAR) home/main/ramsar/1_4000_0 (ESPOO) “The UN Water Courses Convention in force”, Earth scan ISBN 978-1-84971-446-4 (2013) 19

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