UNECE Convention & Groundwater

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Annukka Lipponen - Water Convention and Its Application to Transboundary Groundwaters

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  • Obligation to cooperate (enter into specific agreements, exchange information, notify and consult, establish management plans, etc…)
    UNECE Water Convention (1992): Riparian Parties shall enter into bilateral or multilateral agreements which shall provide for the establishment of joint bodies
  • Strategic, rather than technical
    Specific aspects of groundwater monitoring and application on integrated approach
    Identification of groundwater management issues
    Information needs
    Elements of monitoring and assessment strategies
    Monitoring programmes
    Data management
    Quality management
    Role of joint institutions
    Aggtelek - Slovak Karst (Hungary-Slovakia) and
    part of the Bug groundwaters (Belarus-Poland)
  • Model provisions
    Challenges in practical implementation of Water Convention’s obligations, together with specificity of groundwater =>
    Meeting of the Parties to UNECE Water Convention (2009) mandated the Legal Board together with Working Group on IWRM to elaborate study with proposals for future action
    Preliminary study on the application of the principles of the Convention to transboundary groundwater (2010)
  • UNECE Convention & Groundwater

    1. 1. Water Convention and its Application to Transboundary Groundwaters Annukka Lipponen UNECE Water Convention Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    2. 2. The Water Convention • Signed on 17 March 1992 • Entered into force on 6 October 1996 • Amended in 2003 to allow accession to countries beyond the UNECE region • Amendment entered into force on 6 February 2013 => countries outside ECE expected to be able to accede as of 2014 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    3. 3. Status ofof ratification ofthe Convention ratification of the Convention Status 38 countries and the 38 countries and the European Union European Union Parties Parties Countries in accession Countries in accession Non Parties Non Parties .
    4. 4. Main obligations under the Convention • Protection of transboundary waters by preventing, controlling and reducing transboundary impacts • Reasonable and equitable use of transboundary waters • Obligation to cooperate through agreements and joint institutions => Overall objective of sustainability Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    5. 5. Two categories of obligations • For all Parties => also benefit for national legislation • For Riparian Parties => the Convention does not replace basin agreements – Conclude bilateral and multilateral agreements Cooperate on the basis of IWRM – Establish joint bodies (e.g. river commissions) – Consult and exchange of information – Joint monitoring and assessment – Elaborate joint objectives and action programme Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    6. 6. Applicability of the Convention to groundwater • "Transboundary waters" means any surface or ground waters which mark, cross or are located on boundaries between two or more States (Art.1(1)) • The Guide to Implementing the Convention: “As for groundwaters, the Convention includes both confined and unconfined aquifers” Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    7. 7. Activities to provide support to the States • Guidelines on monitoring and assessment of transboundary groundwaters (2000) • Pilot projects to apply the guidelines • Inventory of transboundary groundwaters (1999) and pan-European assessments: First (2007) and Second (2011) Assessments of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters • Preliminary study of the application of the principles of the Convention to transboundary groundwater (20102011) and Study on groundwater in transboundary water agreements in EECCA (2009) • 2012 Model Provisions on Transboundary Groundwaters Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    8. 8. Model Provisions on Transboundary Groundwaters • • • • • Non-binding guidance adopted by Meeting of the Parties in 2012 Build on the ILC Draft Articles Active participation of UNESCO and IAH in their development To be used by Parties and non-Parties when entering into or reviewing bilateral or multilateral agreements on transboundary groundwaters (in the form of an additional protocol to an existing agreement or a new and separate specific agreement on groundwaters) • Accompanied by commentaries with references to international commitments and existing State practice Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    9. 9. Model Provisions on Transboundary Groundwaters: the scope Provision 1: Obligations to prevent, control and reduce any transboundary impact; equitable and reasonable use Provision 2: Obligation of sustainable use Provision 3: Obligation of cooperation in the identification, delineation and characterization; joint monitoring and assessment Provision 4: Integrated management of surface & groundwaters Provision 5: Prevention, control and reduction of pollution Provision 6 : Exchange of information and data Provision 7: Joint or coordinated management plans Provision 8: EIA, notification and consultations, access to information and to justice, public participation Provision 9: Joint body Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
    10. 10. On the Water Convention and groundwater – the outlook • The Helsinki/Water Convention already the platform for cooperation and sharing experience for some 40 Parties & increasingly beyond pan-Europe • During 20 years, rich experience accumulated, both about legal and technical issues; guidelines of wide applicability & institutional structure adjusts to the needs • Global opening provides opportunities for sharing • Insufficient attention to groundwater in existing agreements, need to analyze and revise; Model Provisions on Transboundary Groundwaters can be applied • Strengthening capacity for implementation in the countries & broad cooperation essential for improving management of transboundary groundwaters Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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