Transboundary water issues have cross-cutting implications for the aims of Rio+20. In the world’s 276 transboundary basins, climate change is already affecting freshwater and related natural resources that are shared by two or more countries, requiring closer levels of cooperation. These effects extend beyond the local level, impacting global natural, social, economic and political systems and thus requiring a global response.
The 1997 UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC), as a global legal framework adopted under the auspices of the UN, is an important tool for strengthening the legal architecture governing shared waters. Once in force, the convention will better enable cooperation between states that is essential to protect vital freshwater ecosystems, their functions and services. >> More on the UNWC can be found here
The side-event on the UN Watercourses Convention, held June 14th, focused on the UNWC as a tool to fill in gaps in the institutional framework for sustainable development, and also as a framework to address water-related impacts from climate change in the context of a green economy. The event consisted of a panel discussion, with the participation of experts and representatives from governments, international organizations, and civil society.
The UNWC-event was organised by the governments of Finland, Nigeria and Norway, Green Cross International, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Women for Water Partnership (WfWP).
The event was followed by a ceremony celebrating progress in the ratification process of the UNWC, during which invited contracting states were presented with a WWF Leaders for a Living Planet award. The ceremony also acknowledged the governments prepared to announce that their countries are considering the UNWC, have started its ratification process, or expect to complete it ahead of or in the course of 2013, the International Year of Water Cooperation.
For the Convention to become legally binding, at least 35 nations must ratify it. Currently, 26 have done so, with the latest being Luxembourg, just before negotiations started in Rio. At the side-event, it was revealed that at least 12 more nations are actively engaged in the ratification process. The Convention therefore, could come into effect within the next few months. Read all about it on the WWF website (follow link).