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Monitoring SDG indicator 6.5.2

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Context and UN Water’s Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6


Pursuant to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community has agreed to ‘implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate’ by 2030 (SDG target 6.5). This target supports the wider goal of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6); the monitoring and implementation of which is supported by UN Water’s Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 (IMI-SDG6).


IMI-SDG6 brings together the United Nations organizations that are formally mandated to compile country data on the 11 global indicators under SDG 6, and builds on ongoing efforts such as the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP), Global Environment Monitoring System for Water (GEMS/Water), FAO’s Global Information System on Water and Agriculture (AQUASTAT) and UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS).

Progress towards SDG target 6.5 is monitored through two indicators: SDG Indicator 6.5.1 tracks the degree of implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM) at all levels, while SDG Indicator 6.5.2 is specific to transboundary water cooperation and measures the ‘proportion of transboundary basin area [within a country] covered by an operational arrangement for water cooperation’, including the area of both river and lake basins and aquifers.

What is the role of UNECE & UNESCO as co-custodian agencies?

As co-custodian agencies, UNECE and UNESCO invite all countries sharing transboundary waters to track their progress on transboundary water cooperation and to report on their national value for SDG indicator 6.5.2. Both agencies, with the support of UN-Water, are responsible for communicating with countries and coordinating report submissions, reviewing, verifying and validating data, as well as streamlining and disseminating the reporting results to countries, international agencies and other relevant stakeholders, including submitting the data to the UN Statistics Division (UNSD). Guidance is provided to countries in many ways through technical support and capacity-building activities, including regional and sub-regional workshops, webinars, and guidance materials developed by the co-custodian agencies.

What are the key elements to calculate SDG indicator 6.5.2 value?

SDG indicator 6.5.2 monitors the proportion of transboundary basin area covered by an operational arrangement for water cooperation within a country.

The calculation of the indicator value is based on two main elements:

  • the spatial coverage of transboundary basin areas located in a country; “basin areas” includes both “river and lake basins” and “aquifers”;
  • a determination of the extent to which these areas are covered by operational arrangements for water cooperation.

An arrangement for water cooperation includes a bilateral or multilateral treaty, convention, agreement or other arrangement, such as memorandum of understanding, between riparian States that provides a framework for cooperation on transboundary water management. Agreements or other kind of formal arrangements may be interstate, intergovernmental, inter-ministerial, interagency or between regional authorities.

For an agreement or arrangement to be considered operational, all four of the following criteria must be met:

  1. There is a joint body or mechanism (e.g. a river basin organization) for transboundary cooperation;
  2. There are at least annual meetings between riparian countries (either at the political of technical level);
  3. There is a joint or coordinated water management plan(s) or joint objectives;
  4. There is at least annual exchange of data and information.

Further information on the calculation of SDG indicator 6.5.2 and on the filling out of the reporting questionnaire is available in the guidance materials , in particular in the Step-by-Step Monitoring Methodology for SDG Indicator 6.5.2 and in the Guide to reporting under the Water Convention and as a contribution to SDG indicator 6.5.2.

More information on the reporting process and the outcomes of the monitoring are available on the following webpages: 



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Last update date: April 5, 2023