Picture Credit: UN Water 2013
Preparing for the UN Year for Water Cooperation: International Conference in Zaragoza
The International UN-Water Conference 'Preparing for the 2013 International Year. Water Cooperation: Making it Happen!' took place in Zaragoza, Spain, from 8 to 10 January 2013, focusing on how to make cooperation happen in practice. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, the objective of this International Year is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services.
More than 160 United Nations experts, and key multi-stakeholders from all around the world met in Zaragoza to exchange on the best approaches to promote effective cooperation at different scales- including transboundary water cooperation, water cooperation in cities, water cooperation in rural areas, decentralized cooperation and development cooperation.
The conference introduced the key skills required for water cooperation, with particular attention to their important role in the process of negotiation and mediation and with examples of their application in national and international water settings. Mutual trust and understanding the real needs of communities were emphasized as key factors for successful water cooperation. Other vital elements identified were political will, legal frameworks, accountability and institutional structures. “Achieving water cooperation is the result of a long term process which requires time, patience and mutual trust” summarized Josefina Maestu, Director of the UN Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015, organizers of the Conference.
Some of the expected outcomes of the conference include:
• A series of documented case studies that illustrate how different tools and approaches for dispute resolution are implemented in practice;
• A synthesis of lessons learned on the use of approaches for dispute resolution and how to improve water cooperation;
• A feedback on the main messages for World Water Day 2013.
Time to articulate human rights obligations and transboundary water cooperation?
WaterLex was invited to participate in the discussions of the panel on “Water cooperation between nations and between stakeholders” which included the case of the Senegal River Basin. WaterLex highlighted that the Senegal Water Charter of 2002 is a pioneer instrument, insofar as it explicitly includes the human right to water and is one of the only two existing to date, together with that of Niger River Basin. The integration of the human right to water in transboundary agreements provides a framework for States to cooperate while ensuring respective compliance with international human right standards.
At the occasion of the 2013 UN International Year of Water Cooperation, WaterLex believes it is timely to articulate and clarify human rights obligations related to water resources management in a transboundary context. To facilitate further discussion on this issue, WaterLex is planning a seminar during the 2013 World Water Week on the implications of the human right to water and sanitation on the management of transboundary water resources, as well as a side-event during the September session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Other key events
By declaring 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation, the international community recognizes the importance of peaceful and sustainable management and use of water resources. The Year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify burning issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and the linkages with the Millennium Development Goals.
Amongst the key planned events are :
• UN-Water Annual Conference in Zaragoza - "Water Cooperation, Making it happen!"
8-10 January 2013 | Zaragoza, Spain
• Kick-off Meeting of the International Year
11 February 2013 | UNESCO HQ - Paris, France
• World Water Day
22 March 2013 | The Hague, The Netherlands
• High-Level International Conference on Water Cooperation
August 2013 | Dushanbe, Tajikistan
• World Water Week
1-6 September 2013 | Stockholm, Sweden
International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013
UN Resolution on the International Year of Water Cooperation
UN Year for International Cooperation (Website)
For further information on WaterLex activities in the context of the International Year of Water Cooperation, please contact:
Aline Baillat - Project Coordinator - a.baillat[at]waterlex.org