The Dominican Republic has taken important steps to ensure the sustainability of its natural resources through better conservation, management and sustainable use of its transboundary waters. The Dominican Government undertook a process to accede to the United Nations Water Convention.
The National Workshop on Information and Exchange on the Water Convention: Accession Process and Priorities for the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo, October 31) was a milestone in that process, bringing together more than 85 stakeholders to discuss the benefits of accession and the practical application of the Convention to address the challenges of managing shared water resources in the Dominican Republic.
The meeting was chaired by Ms. Claudia Taboada, Director of Science, Technology and Environment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who highlighted that: "the fact that many countries like ours share watersheds and important bodies of water with other nations tells us that we must advocate for integrated management and that the preservation of this resource requires greater cooperation and strategic alliances. The Water Convention serves as a mechanism to strengthen national measures and international cooperation aimed at the environmentally sound management and protection of transboundary surface and groundwater."
Importance of transboundary water cooperation for the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares several transboundary basins with the Republic of Haiti, such as those of the Artibonito, Dajabón, Soliette and Pedernales rivers, as well as the Artibonito, Dajabón, Los Lagos and Pedernales aquifers. These resources are fundamental for the well-being of the population, the health of the ecosystems and economic development, being necessary for agriculture, energy, industry and domestic use. As one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, cooperation is crucial to avoid and mitigate the effects of extreme weather events. "The Convention can provide a very useful framework for working on watershed conservation and mitigating the impact of climate change in the Dominican Republic, through integrated and sustainable watershed management. The Water Convention can offer its unique framework and bring its 30 years of experience and application on the ground in a multitude of contexts to help address these challenges," stressed Sonja Koeppel, Secretary of the Water Convention.
Generating benefits for the Dominican Republic
The Water Convention is a unique and widely accepted United Nations intergovernmental legal framework. It calls on Parties to prevent, control and reduce negative impacts on water quality and quantity across borders, to use shared waters in a reasonable and equitable manner, and to ensure their sustainable management through cooperation.
Accession to the Water Convention would allow the Dominican Republic to benefit from support at the global level to contribute to sustainable development and strengthen stability and peace, building on the proven 30-year experience of the Convention to facilitate cooperation in shared basins. It would help the Dominican Republic both to further improve its integrated water resources management at the national level, in line with the ongoing transformation of water governance through the creation of the Water Cabinet and the presentation of the Water Pact, and to position itself as a regional leader for the conservation of natural resources.
The accession of the Dominican Republic could give a strong impetus to water cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the richest regions in terms of water resources. Twenty-two of the 33 countries in the region share transboundary waters, whether lakes, rivers or aquifers. Seventy-one percent of the total surface water flow in the region comes from shared river basins, which are fundamental for social and economic development and ecosystem conservation. Transboundary water cooperation is a precondition for sustainable development, peace and stability.
UN Member States have committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in particular to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water through integrated water resources management, including through transboundary cooperation. However, the region is not on track, with a paucity of transboundary basins subject to operational agreements for water cooperation.
Accession to the Convention by the Dominican Republic could catalyse a boost to water cooperation in the LAC region by bringing more countries on board to reap the benefits of implementing the Water Convention.
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