Transboundary water management, source of peace and sustainable development

The 9th Meeting of the Parties to the Helsinki Conference on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, also known as the "Water Convention", is being held in Geneva from 29 September to 1 October 2021. It will focus on the need to strengthen cooperation for integrated management of transboundary waters for stability and sustainable development.

More than 500 participants and stakeholders in the water sector, States, but also river basin organizations, international and non-governmental organizations, universities, are meeting in Geneva and online to discuss cooperation in the field of transboundary waters. There is an urgent need to face the challenges that await us in the current context of climate change and pressure on biodiversity.

Better cooperation on transboundary waters as a vehicle for peace and sustainable development

Transboundary waters give rise to socio-economic, environmental and political dependencies. Cooperation in this field is the essential response to enable sustainable development, peace and stability. The Water Convention, which was adopted in 1992 in Helsinki and came into force in 1996, aims to ensure sustainable and equitable management of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation between States, and encourages the implementation of integrated water resources management plans, including the watershed approach. It concerns surface and groundwater.

A global tool

Originally a regional instrument, under the umbrella of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the Convention became global in 2016. It now has 45 Parties, including most of the States sharing transboundary waters on the European continent, and four African States. The recent ratification of Ghana and Guinea Bissau, which confirms the international dimension of this convention, is proof of the interest that this instrument arouses.
It is the only UN instrument for the management of transboundary waters.

The conference will open with a special high-level session on the links between water and peace, an open dialogue on the role of water in sustainable development, regional integration, cooperation and peace in transboundary basins and beyond.
The States will also address during this session topics such as the development of agreements in shared basins, the equitable and sustainable distribution of water, the impacts of integrated water management in the major issues such as adaptation to climate change, food, energy, or the preservation of ecosystems.

Goal: Achieving SDG 6 to ensure access to water and sanitation by 2030

The Conference will also be the occasion to launch the second report on the implementation of the Convention, as well as the conclusions of the second indicator 6.5.2 of the MDG 6 (water and sanitation), jointly monitored by the UNECE and UNESCO.

The international agenda offers us a unique opportunity to raise our ambitions and move forward on Goal 6 of the SDGs. The 9th World Water Forum will take place in Dakar next March.
The 2022-23 work program, designed to help Parties resolve political and technical difficulties in managing their transboundary waters, will be adopted.

France, a member of the Bureau for the past 10 years, and leader of the Convention’s global outreach strategy, supports integrated water management and welcomes the progress in the Convention’s work.

Last updated on: 29 September 2021