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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 Tenth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention (MOP10) will take place on 23-25 October 2024 in Ljubljana, hosted by the Government of Slovenia.   

More than 500 participants are expected at MOP10, a milestone for accelerating progress towards achieving SDG target 6.5, discussing challenges and good practices related to transboundary water cooperation and the role of the Water Convention worldwide. At MOP10, countries will review progress of Convention activities over the past 3 years, adopt a new programme of work for 2025-2027 as well as other decisions. The high-level segment "Our waters, our future: transboundary water cooperation to power climate resilience" (23 October 2024) will discuss how cooperation can be used to address climate change related impacts and challenges in shared basins.

More information is available here

On 22 March 2024, World Water Day on Water for Peace was an opportunity to recall the key role played by the Water Convention to strengthen transboundary water cooperation worldwide. The Water Convention has facilitated cooperation and supported policy processes and capacity building in shared basins for over 30 years. With its 52 Parties, 5 of which have joined in 2023, and over 20 countries currently in the process of accession, the Convention offers a unique UN framework to facilitate, for example, the development of transboundary water agreements, as foundations for peace. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reminded that “action for water is action for peace” and urged all countries to join the United Nations Water Convention.

Since the Water Convention’s global opening in 2016, Chad, Senegal (2018), Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Togo (2021), Cameroon (2022), Iraq, Nigeria, The Gambia, Namibia and Panama (2023) acceded and many other countries in various regions are in the processes of accession. The Convention supports countries through the application of its Strategy for implementation at the global level and its programme of work 2022-2024 (detailed programme in ENG, FRE, RUS and SPA), which aims to strengthen cooperation and partnerships for the management of transboundary waters worldwide in order to promote sustainable development and peace.

North Macedonia and Uzbekistan have recently joined the Protocol  on Water and Health, a unique multilateral environmental agreement, supporting access to water and sanitation to all through better water and environmental management. The programme of work of the Protocol on Water and Health for 2023-2025 (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 and equitable access to water and sanitation.