Source: Small Island Developing States
24 October 2018: The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are advocating for source-to-sea approaches to managing transboundary waters in the context of implementing international agreements on water cooperation. Parties to the UNECE Water Convention discussed the topic at the Eighth Meeting of Parties (MOP8) in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October, and SIWI has published a policy brief on the issue.
The agencies highlight that the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention and the UN International Watercourses Convention both refer to the need to protect the marine environment in relation to upstream activities.
The discussion took place at a MOP8 side event organized by the GEF International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW:LEARN) and the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (the S2S Platform), a multi-stakeholder initiative coordinated by SIWI for knowledge generation and sharing. The event featured panelists from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Global Water Partnership (GWP) Mediterranean, the Swedish Ministry of the Environment and Energy, and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River.
The Water Convention can be applied as a mechanism to enhance marine protection through reducing unsustainable human activities on land.
Birgitta Liss Lymer, Director, Water Governance Department at SIWI, called for explicitly integrating the source-to-sea approach in activities conducted under the UNECE Water Convention. Chris Severin, GEF Secretariat, highlighted the attention given to source-to-sea approaches in GEF’s current programme.
SIWI’s policy brief titled, ‘Transboundary Waters: Cooperation From Source to Sea,’ contains recommendations to, inter alia: firmly integrate source-to-sea priorities as part of transboundary river basin cooperation; direct funds towards such activities on the basis that these will contribute to ongoing transboundary cooperation as well as to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and develop shared definitions and approaches, including investing in methods, tools, capacity building and technical assistance. The authors argue for applying the UNECE Water Convention as a mechanism to enhance marine protection through reducing unsustainable human activities on land. They note that source-to-sea approaches are especially relevant for achieving SDG 6 (water and sanitation) and SDG 14 (life below water).
The Convention, also known by its longer name of Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, entered into force in 1996. Since December 2015, non-UNECE member States have been able to accede to the Convention. Meanwhile, the Convention on the Law of Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (the UN Watercourses Convention) entered into force in 2014. The two conventions are said to have complementary aims.
MOP8 of the UNECE Water Convention took place from 10-12 October in Astana, Kazakhstan. [SIWI Press Release] [Transboundary Waters: Cooperation from Source to Sea] [Policy Brief Web Page] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Chad’s Accession to Water Convention] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Senegal’s Accession to Water Convention]