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The Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health


water conv

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and  International Lakes  (Water Convention) is a unique international legal instrument and intergovernmental platform which aims to ensure the sustainable use of transboundary water resources by facilitating cooperation. Initially negotiated as a regional instrument, it has been opened up for accession to all UN Member States in 2016. 

The Protocol on Water and Health, jointly serviced by UNECE and WHO-Europe , is a unique legally binding instrument aiming to protect human health by better water management and by reducing water-related diseases. The Protocol provides a practical framework to translate into practice the human rights to water and sanitation and to implement SDG 6.

In focus


The ninth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention, organized by UNECE in cooperation with the Government of Estonia, will take place on 29 September-1 October 2021 in an hybrid format from Geneva, Switzerland.  
It will be a milestone for reviewing and accelerating progress towards achieving SDG target 6.5, discussing challenges and good practices related to transboundary water cooperation and the role of the Convention worldwide. The meeting will adopt a new programme of work for 2022-2024 to implement the Water Convention as well as other decisions/ documents.

More information on the meeting’s objectives, expected outcomes and registration process is available here.

The flyer of the meeting is available in English, French, Russian and Spanish.


Since the Water Convention’s global opening in 2016, Chad, Senegal and Ghana acceded and many other countries have started accession processes. The Convention supports countries through the application of its strategy for implementation at global level and its current programme of work for 2019-2021 (brochure, detailed programme in ENGFRERUSSPA), which aims to strengthen cooperation and partnerships for the management of transboundary waters worldwide in order to promote sustainable development and peace.

The programme of work of theProtocol on Water and Health for 2020-2022 (available  in ENG, FRE and RUS) aims to address the main challenges related to water, sanitation and health in the pan-European region. The Protocol supports countries in areas such as preventing and reducing water-related diseases; institutional water, sanitation and hygiene; small-scale water supplies and sanitation, safe and efficient management of water supply and sanitation systems and equitable access to water and sanitation.

More information on COVID-19: the role of the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health.