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World Water Day: Joint water management can bring peace

Conflicts over drinking water resources are increasing worldwide, which is why the United Nations is also making an appeal to societies and neighboring countries with the motto of this year's World Water Day (March 22): "Water for Peace". "Due to climate change, among other things, there is an increasing scarcity of water, more conflicts and there is a risk that there could also be wars over water in the future," Sonja Köppel, Head of the Secretariat of the UN Water Convention, told the German Press Agency.

The 1992 convention helps neighboring countries that share water resources to create joint management structures in order to prevent conflicts. According to Köppel, it is currently experiencing a boom: the convention was originally designed for the Europe and Central Asia region, but has been open to countries all over the world since 2016. Since then, the number of members has risen from 41 to 52, with a further 30 or so countries in the process of joining.

"We have seen in recent years and even centuries that joint water management has played a role as a peacemaker," she says. For example, in the former Yugoslavia: shortly after the end of the war in 2002, the countries bordering the Sava River - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia - concluded an international agreement that included the exchange of data on water quality and quantity, for example. This led to further cooperation, for example in the area of environmental protection. "This has contributed to peace in the region."

153 countries share water with neighbors

There has also been closer cooperation on the management of shared rivers between Ukraine and Moldova and between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Belarus and Lithuania also succeeded in drawing up a protocol on the management of a joint river through initial technical cooperation. However, this agreement is currently on hold due to the political situation.

153 countries worldwide share water resources with neighboring countries. Only 24 have so far reached agreements with neighboring countries for all rivers and lakes on their territory. Germany is one of them.

The convention is called the "Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes". It is based at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (Unece) in Geneva and helps member countries with expertise for joint agreements or adaptation to climate change. It also offers mediators to help countries resolve disputes.


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