UN General Assembly adopts resolution on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers
The 63rd session of the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/63/124 on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers by consensus on Thursday, December 11 and expressed its appreciation to UNESCO-IHP for its contribution to UN International Law Commission (UNILC) in the preparation of the Articles on the Law.
All 19 articles of the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, prepared by UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the UN International Law Commission, have been endorsed by the UN General Assembly in New York at its 63rd session, 11 December.
The resolution encourages the States concerned 'to make appropriate bilateral or regional arrangements for the proper management of their transboundary aquifers, taking into account the provisions of these draft articles', which are annexed to the resolution. These provisions include cooperation among States to prevent, reduce and control pollution of shared aquifers. In view of the importance of these 'invisible resources', States are invited to consider these draft articles as a basis for the elaboration of a convention.
To respond to the request of support formulated by the UNILC Special Rapporteur Ambassador Chusei Yamada, UNESCO IHP set up an international experts group to provide to UNILC technical and scientific support to. Since 2003 UNILC and UNESCO IHP have closely worked together with the UNILC for the preparation of the first set of articles on the law of transboundary aquifers. Lawyers and hydrogeologists have worked together to create a common language in the formulation of new sets of laws on water resources. This has resulted in a concrete example of efficient cooperation between to bodies of the UN System.
The Law of Transboundary Aquifers is a concrete step forward towards the peaceful sharing of groundwater resources. Until today there was no instrument of international law that could provide a complete set of recommendations and guidelines for the sustainable and peaceful management of transboundary aquifers. The UNESCO-IHP inventory of transboundary aquifers and the World Map of Transboundary Aquifers served as background for the preparation of the first set of articles. UNESCO-IHP has already inventoried 273 transboundary aquifers, some of those shared by more than 2 countries.
Aquifers contain almost 96% of the planet's freshwater. Globally, 65% of groundwater is devoted to irrigation, 25% to the supply of drinking water and 10% to industry. Aquifers account for more than 70% of the water used in the European Union and are often one of the only sources – if not the only one – in arid and semi-arid zones: 100% in Saudi Arabia and Malta, 95% in Tunisia and 75% in Morocco. Irrigation systems in many countries depend heavily on groundwater resources: 90% in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, 89% in India, 84% in South Africa and 80% in Spain.
The IHP's Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management (ISARM) project has been compiling an inventory and evaluating the world's transboundary aquifer systems. The project is also itemizing the legal systems of each country as they relate to aquifer management. ISARM has so far inventoried 273 transboundary aquifers: 68 on the American continent, 38 in Africa, 65 in Eastern Europe, 90 in Western Europe, and 12 in Asia where the inventory is still in progress.
Some of the biggest transboundary aquifers in the world are located in South America and North Africa, such as the Guarani and Nubian Sandstone aquifers. Those in Africa remain largely unexploited. Since aquifers generally extend across several State boundaries, exploiting these presupposes agreements for managing them jointly, in order to prevent pollution or over-exploitation by particular States. Mechanisms of this kind have begun to emerge. For example, in the 1990s, Chad, Egypt, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Sudan established a joint authority to manage the Nubian Sandstone aquifer system in a concerted manner.
The UNESCO-IHP World Map of Transboundary Aquifers served as background for this preparation of the first set of international legal articles. The map was published in October by UNESCO's Worldwide Hydrological Mapping and Assessment Programme (WHYMAP), which has been establishing a groundwater database since 2000. The map also assesses the characteristics of the main aquifer systems and their rate of replenishment.
Download the UNESCO-IHP World Map of Transboundary Aquifers
Access the Resolutions of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly
PCCP, in cooperation with UNESCO-IHE, organizes a short course on "Negotiation and Mediation for Water Conflict Management"
A short course on "Negotiation and Mediation for Water Conflict Management", jointly proposed by PCCP and the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, will take place in The Hague and Delft, The Netherlands.
The course will introduce the basic concepts of water cooperation, conflict prevention and mitigation, as well as provide in-depth skills training. Present day issues relating to transboundary water conflicts will also be discussed with guest speakers working in the fields of water governance and conflict resolution.
The course is designed for current and future water managers, decision makers and other actors involved in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Participants should have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (economics, social sciences, law, engineering, biology, etc.) and preferably several years of relevant working experience.
The deadline for application is 6 March 2009.
UNESCO-IHE Short course Page
World Water Day 2009 on "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities"
International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater.
In 2009, the theme for World Water Day is "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities". Special focus will be placed on transboundary waters. Nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in transboundary water management helps build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries. It promotes peace, security and sustainable economic growth. The UNESCO leads the activities of this Day with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Read more about the World Water Day 2009
Director-General of UNESCO addresses the Summit of Nobel Peace laureates on the "Right to Water as a Human Right"
On 11 December 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, addressed a session on the right to water during the 9th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates with Professor Pachauri, co-recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace prize.
The Director-General began his intervention by highlighting that many of the human rights affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and among them the right to life, could not be fulfilled without access to water.
Mr Koïchiro Matsuura underlined however, that "while progress has been made towards expanding access to safe drinking water such access is still often denied in developing as well as developed countries to our fellow human beings".
The Director-General underscored that many aspects of water resources management needed to change. "The international community has to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing integrated water management strategies at the regional, national and local levels which promote both equitable access and adequate supplies. We need to recognize that water belongs to the earth and all its species and that we are only the trustees of this precious resource".
"Depending on the particular circumstances, strategies to ensure non-discriminatory and affordable access to water can employ private companies. These should operate, under public accountability, in a liberalized, but regulated, market. Governments therefore need to ensure that tiered tariffs target different users" he added.
He concluded his intervention by reaffirming that securing the right to water is a shared responsibility and we will need the goodwill and energy of all to succeed.
Read the speech of UNESCO Director-General
Italian National IHP Committee releases report on the "International Symposium on the Role of Hydrology in Water Resources Management" for UNESCO and IAHS
Within the scope of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO, an international symposium on "The Role of Hydrology in Water Resources Management" was held on the isle of Capri from 13-16 October 2008. The symposium was also supported by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS).
The purpose of the symposium was to discuss ways to achieve a stronger involvement of hydrologists in decision processes impacting on the water balance. At the symposium, hydrologists and decision makers from the fields of politics, economy and social sciences active in the broader periphery of hydrology or whose decisions have a sustainable impact on water resources, were invited to discuss these topics. In doing so, the environmental aspects were to be taken into account.
Read the full report
Final Report: "The 12th Biennial Conference of Mediterranean Network: Hydrological Extremes in Small Basins"
The conference "The 12th Biennial Conference of Mediterranean Network: Hydrological Extremes in Small Basins" took place on 18-20 September 2008 at the Jagiellonian University, Institute of Geography and Spatial Management in Cracow, Poland. There were 109 participants from 22 countries with 42 oral presentations and 60 posters.
The topics were: predictions of stream- flow response in controlled and uncontrolled catchments, hydrological models calibration, hydro-chemical and geomorphological responses to the extremes, interactions between surface- and ground-water, extreme value statistics, and model data-time-step dependency on basin characteristics. Traditionally, one session was devoted to new ideas in hydrological research.
The conference started from the address by the ERB International coordinator, Piet Warmerdam of the Wageningen University (The Netherlands) who briefly reviewed the ERB objectives. Then, the Director of the Institute of Geography and Spatial Management in Cracow, Bolesław Domański, presented a short introduction to the history of the Jagiellonian University, with the first geography chair in Central Europe, founded in 1849.
WMO, RCUWM and UNW-DPC organize "Training Workshop on Integrated Flood Management"
The Training Workshop on Integrated Flood Management (IFM), to be held on 11-14 May 2009 in Tehran, Iran, is being developed by the World Meteorological Organization in cooperation with the Regional Centre on Urban Water Management-Tehran and UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) for flood-prone countries, cities, and communities, with the aim of scaling-up action on integrated flood management to contribute to a minimization of losses of life from flooding and to an efficient use of flood plain resources. The course will provide participants an in depth exposure to the social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions of flood management and allow them to develop an integrated perspective on floods, floodplains and the development process in their own country.
This three-day workshop has been designed for top and mid-level managers/professionals in water resources management, disaster management, land use management and spatial planning, from several countries in Western Asia and Arab region including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Oman, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rcuwm.org.ir for further information.
UNESCO Water Family (*)
Sixth World FRIEND Conference
25-29 October 2010: Fez, Morocco
Featured International Events
Sida Advanced International Training Programme: Sustainable Urban Water and Sanitation - Integrated Processes
26 October – 13 November 2009: Lund, Sweden
Fluctuations of Glaciers (prepared by the World Glacier Monitoring Service - WGMS)
The series 'Fluctuations of Glaciers' (FoG), prepared by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), continuously publishes internationally collected, standardised data on changes in glaciers throughout the world at 5-yearly intervals.
The objective of the publication is to reproduce a global set of data which:
- affords a general view of the changes,
- encourages more extensive measurements,
- invites further processing of the results,
- facilitates consultation of the further sources, and
- serves as a basis for research.
This standardised data set should be regarded as a working tool for the scientific community, especially concerning the fields of glaciology, climatology, hydrology, and quaternary geology.
New issues: "Fluctuations of Glaciers".
Older issues may be ordered at the above website.
Did you know...? Facts and figures about Water Footprints and Virtual Water
- The water footprint of an individual, business or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the foods and services consumed by the individual, business or nation. A water footprint is generally expressed in terms of the volume of water use per year.
- Since not all goods consumed in one particular country are produced in that country, the water footprint consists of two parts: use of domestic water resources and use of water outside the borders of the country. The water footprint includes both the water withdrawn from surface and groundwater and the use of soil water (in agricultural production).
- Virtual water is the water 'embedded' in commodities. Producing goods and services requires water; the water used to produce agricultural or industrial products is called the virtual water of the product.
- The global volume of virtual water flows related to the international trade in commodities is 1,600 Km³/yr. About 80% of these virtual water flows relate to the trade in agricultural products, while the remainder is related to industrial product trade.
- The production of 1 kilogram of:
- rice requires 3,000 litres of water
- maize requires 900 litres of water
- wheat requires 1,350 litres of water
- beef requires 16,000 litres of water.
- 140 litres of water are needed to produce 1 cup of coffee while the production of 1 litre of milk requires 1,000 litres of water.
- Globally, water is saved if agricultural products are traded from regions with high water productivity to those with low water productivity. At present, if importing countries produced all imported agricultural products domestically, they would require 1,600 Km³ of water per year; however, the products are being produced with only 1.200 Km³/yr in the exporting countries, saving global water resources by roughly 400 billion m³/yr.
- The per capita consumption of virtual water contained in our diets varies according to the type of diet, from 1 m³/day for a survival diet, to 2.6 m³/day for a vegetarian diet and over 5 m³ for a United States style meat based diet.
- Only about 7% of the Chinese water footprint of 700 m³ per capita per year (m³/cap/yr) falls outside of China, whereas 65% of Japan's total water footprint of 1150 m³/cap/yr is external.
- The United States appears to have an average water footprint of 2,480 m³/cap/yr, while the global average water footprint is 1,240 m³/cap/yr.
Information from the 2nd United Nations World Water Development Report, 'Water, a shared responsibility' and from the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education's 'Water footprint' website.
The section "Did You Know…?" is taken from the 2nd United Nations World Water Development Report: “Water, a shared responsibility".
UNESCO's Water Family consists of the following:
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