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Monitoring, assessment and information sharing in transboundary basins

The Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment is one of the two main subsidiary bodies established by the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) to oversee activities in the area of work on monitoring and assessment. Furthermore, this Working Group has a leading role in the preparation of periodic assessments of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters, the latest of which was published in 2011. Since then, monitoring and assessment have been integrated into thematic activities (e.g. adaptation to climate change, water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus) and have been a component in projects on the ground.

The introduction of a reporting exercises under the Water Convention has shed light on gaps in implementation of the Convention, also regarding the provisions on joint monitoring and assessment and on data and information exchange. In response to this, the Meeting of the Parties included in the adopted Programme of Work 2019-2021 an area of work titled "Supporting monitoring, assessment and information sharing in transboundary basins". The objective of this area of work is to support countries in initiating or further developing joint or coordinated monitoring and assessment of transboundary waters, covering both water quantity and quality aspects, and ensure exchange of information between riparian countries.

The activities include capacity building events such as The Global Workshop on Data and Information Exchange in Transboundary Basins (4-5 December, 2019) and the training workshop "Strengthening the Basis for Exchange of Data and Information on Priority Themes" for the Drin River Basin riparian countries (2-4 July, 2019). Workshops provide for exchanges of experience between countries or basin organizations.

Tailored assistance to a limited number of cooperation processes through monitoring and assessment work can be provided on the basis of demands from countries.

Assessment of transboundary waters

The Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters under the Water Convention provides a comprehensive overview of the status of transboundary waters in the European and Asian parts of the UNECE region. The Second Assessment was launched at the Seventh Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" (Astana, Kazakhstan, 21-23 September 2011) to which it was one of the key inputs.

The First Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters in the UNECE Region was published in 2007 on the occasion of the sixth Ministerial Conference which requested the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention to prepare the Second Assessment.

Compared to the first one, the Second Assessment is broader in ambition and scope: it has a more holistic approach, integrates surface and groundwaters, highlights legal, institutional and socio-economic aspects and emphasizes cross-cutting themes that are a challenge for transboundary waters, in particular the impacts of an adaptation to climate change. It covers pressure factors, quantity and quality status of waters, transboundary impacts, responses and future trends.

The Second Assessment is based on information provided by the countries of the region through nominated national experts or in some cases by river basin commissions. The Second Assessment seeks to inform, guide and stimulate further action by Governments, river basin organizations, the international community, including donors, and relevant non-governmental organizations.

The Second Assessment was prepared by sub-regions and a key step in its preparation was a series of sub-regional workshops on transboundary management of water resources where the participants worked together to form an accurate picture of all transboundary water. The sub-regional workshops - listed below - allowed for the sharing of good practices and the identification of bottlenecks and challenges as well as future options for each sub-region.

Monitoring and assessment guidelines

Various guidelines on monitoring and assessment were developed in the 1990s and 2000s, tested in pilot projects on both surface waters and groundwaters.

Guidelines on Monitoring and Assessment
Strategies for Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters PDF PDF        
Guidelines on Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary and International Lakes            
Background paper PDF          
Part A. Strategy document PDF          
Part B: Technical guidelines PDF          
Russian Parts A and B   PDF        
Guidelines on Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary Rivers PDF PDF PDF      
Guidelines on Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary Groundwaters PDF PDF WORD PDF PDF PDF

Gathering of feedback and experience is undertaken to assess the need to update and/or complement the guidance material under the Water Convention, also with a view to more global application.
Last update date: February 15, 2021