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No. 5 (365) June 2022


The 17th meeting of the Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and the 17th meeting of the Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment under the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) was held in Tallinn (Estonia) on 28-30 June 2022. This is the Working Groups’ fourth joint meeting.

The main objectives of the forth joint meeting of the two Working Groups were to review the implementation of the Water Convention programme of work for 2022-2024; discuss progress in the Convention’s global opening and ongoing and planned activities; review progress in activities supporting monitoring and assessment, and information-sharing in transboundary basins; discuss the implementation of decisions taken by the Meeting of the Parties at its ninth session (Geneva and online, 29 September - 1 October 2021).

The meeting began with the adoption of the agenda and the election of officers. The report of previous joint meeting was then approved, and information on recent ratifications of the Convention and the intentions of the countries to accede to it in the near future were reviewed.

Under the item on Increasing awareness of and accession to the Convention and application of its principles drawing on the benefits of cooperation, the Working Groups were informed on the activities of Secretariat, Parties and partners aimed at raising awareness and increasing knowledge on the Convention at the local and global levels; the activities in support of countries in developing and revisioning transboundary agreements and arrangements (program area 1, activity 1.3); as well as on the outcomes of the 14th meeting of the Implementation Committee under the Convention (Geneva, February 24-25, 2022), including the information on the progress of the WAT/IC/AP/1 consultation procedure between Albania and Montenegro (report of D. R. Ziganshina, Vice-Chairman of the Implementation Committee).

Under "Supporting monitoring and assessment, and information-sharing in transboundary basins", the working groups were informed about implementation of the program area 2 for 2022-2024 supporting countries in initiating or further developing joint and coordinated monitoring and assessment of transboundary water resources and improving exchange of information. In particular, information on the outcomes of the Expert meeting on monitoring, assessment and data exchange (Geneva (in hybrid format)), progress in updating the “Strategies for monitoring and assessment of transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters” (ECE/MP.WAT/20), development of a publication on good practices and lessons learned in transboundary data exchange and planned next steps.

Under “Promoting an integrated and intersectoral approach to water management at all levels”, a wide range of issues was addressed, including support for intersectoral dialogues and assessments through the application of the “water-food-energy-ecosystem nexus approach”; assistance to integrated water resources management in transboundary basins; support of national policy dialogues on Integrated Water Resources Management within the framework of the European Union Water Initiative. In particular, the Working Groups were informed about the outcomes of the stocktaking of experiences worldwide of nexus (intersectoral) solutions and investments in transboundary basins (publication “Solutions and investments in the water-food-energy - ecosystem nexus”: A Synthesis of experiences in transbounary basins”); on the progress made in activities supporting intersectoral dialogues and assessment in transboundary basins, in particular in the Western Balkans as well as the preparations for a Nexus project in Central Asia. The Working Groups also reviewed efforts towards promoting cooperation between the water and energy sectors, as promoted in the toolkit publication “Sustainable Renewable Energy Investment and Deployment: Tradeoffs and opportunities with water resources and the environment.” The Working Groups were informed about Global Workshop on Source-to-sea Management (Geneva, 14-15 December 2022), on initiatives undertaken on the occasion of World Water Day 2022 (22 March 2022) focusing on “Groundwater - making the invisible visible”.

As part of supporting national policy dialogues on integrated water resources management under the European Union Water Initiative (program area 3, activity 3.4), participants were updated on a new project entitled “EU4 Environment in the Eastern Partnership: Water Resources and Environmental Data”, implemented jointly by ECE, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Environment Agency Austria and the International Office for Water of France, also on the progress under a project in Central Asia funded by the European Union within the Regional “European Union-Central Asia Water, Environment and Climate Change (WECOOP)” project and implemented by ECE in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. It was reported to conduct the first dialogue in Uzbekistan. The Head of the Department of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan reported on the process of national dialogues on IWRM policy issues in the country.

The measures to support countries in adapting to climate change and in financing climate change adaptation in transboundary basins (programme area 4) were discussed under "Adapting to Climate Change in Transboundary Basins". In particular, the outcomes of the sixth meeting of the Global Network of Basins Working on Climate Change Adaptation (Geneva (hybrid), 25 April 2022) and plans for the Global Workshop on Climate Change and Water (Geneva, 17 and 18 October 2022) and the thirteenth meeting of the Task Force on Water and Climate (Geneva, 19 October 2022). The Working Groups were informed about inputs to global processes on water, climate change and disasters, including the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 31 October- 12 November 2021) and the Water Pavilion organized during the event, as well as the work of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Working Groups were informed on the activities carried out in the framework of the “UN-Water” Integrated Monitoring Initiative for Sustainable Development Goal 6 under “Reporting on Sustainable Development Goals indicator 6.5.2 and under the Convention”. Participants also discussed initiatives promoting the findings of the national reports and the setting of national or basin targets, and address identified data gaps, such as, regarding transboundary aquifers. Working Groups were informed on progress made in development of the online reporting system and the proposed options for considering gender aspects in the reporting. At its eighth session, the Meeting of the Parties decided that reporting exercises would take place triennially by 30 June, so the deadline for submitting the completed templates for the third reporting exercise is, therefore, 30 June 2023.

Working Groups were informed about the preparatory process for the 2023 United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, "Water for Sustainable Development", 2018-2028 (New York, 22-24 March 2023) in the context of the theme "Partnership, Communication and Knowledge Management". In particular, the Working Groups were briefed about the outcomes of the regional events, for example the Pan-European Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations 2023 Water Conference (Geneva, 12 and 13 April 2023), and the Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action "Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028 (Dushanbe, 6-9 June 2022).

Working Groups were provided with information on cooperation with different global and regional partners, such as the Global Environment Facility and its International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network, the Global Water Partnership, “UN-Water” and other environmental conventions, and communication efforts, in particular those to mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Water Convention in 2022.

The working groups were informed on progress of work of the International Water Assessment Center organized in Kazakhstan. In particular, it is planned to hold seminars on water allocation in the Syr Darya River basin.

Working groups discussed the status of the financial resources for implementing the programme of work for 2022-2024. In recent years there has been an increase in the expenditures of the work program due to the expansion of geography and activities, but the financial contributions of countries have not been increased. The Secretariat still relies on donors to fund this imbalance and encourages countries to contribute to its work.

Finally, the Secretariat reported on the implementation of the current work program for 2022-2024 and the dates and venue for the next meetings of the Working Groups.