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National Workshop related to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Sierra Leone’s Accession Process

23 January (8:00) - 24 January (18:00) 2024
sierra leon NW

There is a glaring concern about the unsustainable use of water around the world, and Sierra Leone is not an exception to this. Sierra Leone is addressing a number of pressing challenges in sustainable water management. The country faces significant challenges stemming from factors like population growth, rapid urbanization, and erratic precipitation patterns, which collectively strain the effective administration of its water resources. Additionally, the situation is compounded by recurrent droughts and growing water scarcity driven by changing climate conditions, heightening the potential for conflicts to emerge among various stakeholders. To tackle these multifaceted challenges, fostering effective collaboration on transboundary water resources is imperative. Sierra Leone recognizes the importance of cooperation, both at the regional and international levels, to mitigate potential water-related conflicts and ensure sustainable water management practices. Notably, Sierra Leone has, over the years, engaged in diplomatic efforts to address these concerns through bilateral agreements and regional organizations.

The secretariat of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) has a long-standing cooperation with these two river basin commissions. Adopted on 17 March 1992 in Helsinki, Finland, the Water Convention aims to strengthen cooperation in the field of transboundary waters and to promote the protection and sustainable use of transboundary surface and groundwaters. Initially limited to the Pan-European region, the 1992 Water Convention has been open for accession by all United Nations Member States since 1 March 2016. Eleven countries outside of the UNECE region, including nine African countries, have already acceded to it, and many others are in various stages of acceding to the Convention.

In view of Sierra Leone’s possible accession to the Water Convention, the Ministry of Water Resources has been actively participating in the Convention's activities since 2022. In May 2023, the Secretariat of the Water Convention co-organized a training workshop on transboundary water governance aiming to increase knowledge in global and regional water governance and to define a road map for the accession process of Mano River Union member countries. A national workshop is now being convened to inform the relevant stakeholders about the benefits of cooperation under the Convention, to examine the obligations under the Convention for Sierra Leone should it complete the accession process and outline a roadmap for accession and eventual implementation.

The general objective of the workshop is to inform the relevant stakeholders about the Water Convention, to update interested parties about the processes initiated by the Government of Sierra Leone to become a party to the Water Convention and to discuss next steps in the accession process.

Specifically, this will involve:

  • Informing stakeholders about the Water Convention;
  • Identifying the challenges in cooperative management of transboundary rivers and international lakes at national, regional, and international levels;
  • Outline the content of the Water Convention in terms of benefits and obligations for Sierra Leone;
  • Discuss the practical implementation of the Water Convention to address the challenges of water resources management in Sierra Leone, based on the experience of existing Parties;
  • Examine the interaction and complementarity between the Water Convention and regional and sub-regional legal frameworks
  • Discuss the next steps and road map in the accession process.