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Seventh Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

17-19 November 2015 | Budapest, Hungary


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Daily Web CoverageAbout | 17 Nov | 18 Nov | 19 Nov | Summary

Highlights for Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A view of the room during the high-level session

The seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention MOP7) opened today at the Budapest Congress Centre in Budapest, Hungary, with over 350 delegates from 75 countries.

Amb. Csaba Kőrösi, Director for Environmental Sustainability, Office of the President, opened the meeting on behalf of János Áder, President of Hungary. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, sent a video message to the meeting. Laszlo Ferkai, on behalf of Sándor Pintér, Minister of Interior, Hungary, Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and Christian Friis Bach, UNECE  Executive Secretary, also addressed delegates in the opening session.

High-level delegates then took part in a Special Session on the global opening of the Water Convention and its contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other global commitments. Speakers highlighted the importance of international cooperation on water for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and averting conflict over water scarcity in the future.

Two side events took place during the first day: a high-level event on the EU Water Initiative National Policy Dialogues; and an event on “Cooperating in transboundary basins – what are the benefits?”.

In the afternoon, a short celebration took place with countries and basins that signed in Budapest or will sign the “Paris Pact on water and adaptation to climate change in the basins of rivers, lakes and aquifers,” an adaptation commitment that will be presented at the Paris Climate Change Conference in December (UNFCCC 21st Conference of Parties).

In the evening, delegates went on a river cruise with dinner on board, on the invitation of host country Hungary.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has provided daily web coverage and a summary report from the 7th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. Our summary report of the meeting is available in HTML or PDF format.

The plenary started with a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the recent terror attacks.

Csaba Kőrösi, Director for Environmental Sustainability, Office of the President on behalf of Mr. János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary

Francesco La Camera, Director General, Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, Italy

Laszlo Felkai, Hungary, on behalf of Sándor Pintér, Minister of Interior of Hungary

Christian Friis Bach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Executive Secretary, UNECE

Video message by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
Jan Eliasson

Márta Sebestyén sang a traditional Hungarian song

Rafig Verdiyev, Azerbaijan

Ainun Nishat, Bangladesh

Jean-Paul Lickes, Luxembourg, on behalf of the EU

Inussa Baldé, Guinea-Bissau

Toupta Boguena, Chad

Bosko Kenjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nebojsa Kukuric, International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC)

Sherief Sharly, Egypt

Pilar Garcia Donoro, Spain

Group photo of the particiants that signed the Paris Pact on water and adaptation to climate change in the basins of rivers, lakes and aquifers

Highlights for Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A view of the room during the plenary session

On Wednesday, MOP7 delegates began the day with a discussion of the past and future three-year programme on assessing the benefits of transboundary water cooperation, which noted that the work had highlighted a need to bridge the gap between the water and foreign policy communities, and to mainstream water diplomacy into foreign policy. River basin management practitioners presented experiences from the Sava River Basin Commission, the Mekong River Commission and the Okavango Basin Commissions.

Delegates then heard a report from the Implementation Committee, and elected four members to the Committee – three returning members from Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, and a new member from Uzbekistan.

They also discussed ‘Support to Implementation through Capacity-Building and Assistance on the Ground’, and heard a report-back on the ‘Exchange of Experience of Joint Bodies,’ which had resulted in compilation of Draft Principles for Effective Joint Bodies for Transboundary Water Cooperation.

Delegates also addressed: the need for joint reporting under the Water Convention; water and industrial accidents; and the thematic assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus. On assessment of transboundary waters, they agreed to carry out preparatory work and launch preparations for a third assessment of transboundary waters from 2018.

Participants praised the achievements of the National Policy Dialogues (NPDs) taking place under the EU Water Initiative, which have become a platform for addressing a range of water-related issues. Finland announced funding of €400,000 for the NPDs in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the EU announced funding of €23 million for the 'EU Water Initiative Plus East' programme to strengthen the water policy framework in five countries.

Five side events took place during the day, including two lunchtime events on next steps of the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC), and nexus and water allocation in transboundary basins.

From L-R: Chantal Demilecamps, UNECE Secretariat; Harry Liiv, Estonia; Dragana Milovanović, Serbia; Chair Massimo Cozzone, Italy; Francesca Bernardini, Secretary to the Water Convention; Tracy Molefi, African Network of River Basin Organizations (ANBO); and Anoulak Kittikhoun, Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat

Dragana Milovanović, Serbia

Chair Massimo Cozzone, Italy

Chantal Demilecamps, UNECE Secretariat

Harry Liiv, Estonia

Attila Tanzi (Italy), Chair of the Water Convention Implementation Committee

Lea Kauppi, Finland

Ylber Mirta, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Yekaterina Strikeleva, Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia

Tracy Molefi, ANBO

Yerlan Nyssanbaev, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kazakhstan

Heide Jekel, Germany

Anoulak Kittikhoun, MRC Secretariat

Peter Kovacs (Hungary), Co-Chair of Joint Expert Group (JEG) on Water and Industrial Accidents

Gerhard Winkelmann-Oei, JEG Co-Chair from the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention

Peter Koefoed Bjørnsen, UNEP

Highlights for Thursday, 19 November 2015

A view of the room during the plenary session

On Thursday morning, MOP7 participants resumed discussions on the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus. They welcomed the publication “Reconciling Different Resource Uses in Transboundary Basins: Assessment of the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus” and encouraged countries to apply the nexus approach.

In discussion of the global opening of the Water Convention, delegates heard that more than 60 non-UNECE countries have participated in Water Convention activities, including regional events and national workshops. Several delegates from non-UNECE countries expressed interest in acceding to the Convention or ratifying it. Many delegates requested support for capacity building, and cooperation to organize regional workshops in Latin America and Africa.

Delegates adopted the programme of work for 2016-2018 and approved the requested budget of US$ 8.7 million. They discussed cooperation with partners and achievements under the Protocol on Water and Health, and heard a report on the informal gathering of parties to the UN Watercourses Convention in Paris in September 2015.

Kazakhstan announced its preparations to host the International Water Assessment Center, and offered to host MOP8.

At the close of the meeting, delegates adopted a package of decisions by acclamation and elected the new Chair, Vice-Chairs and bureau members. Outgoing MOP Chair Massimo Cozzone expressed his appreciation to all colleagues for their contributions, and to the Convention secretariat and the Hungarian hosts.

Incoming MOP Chair Peter Kovacs (Hungary) noted that MOP7 was a milestone in the history of the Convention as it marked the starting point of the global opening of the Convention. He welcomed the solutions offered by countries outside the UNECE region who have a strong commitment to implementing the Convention, highlighting the shared objective of improving transboundary cooperation. He closed the meeting at 4:52 pm.

Chair Massimo Cozzone, Italy

Radoje Lausevic, Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe

Pierre-André Studer, Switzerland

Nebojsa Kukuric, International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC)

Francesca Bernardini, Secretary to the Water Convention

Robert Wanjara, Kenya

Nickolai Denisov, Zoï Environment Network

Rafig Verdiyev, Azerbaijan

Antonio Graziosi, International Labour Organization (ILO)

Evgeny Simonov, Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition

Mukhtar Zhakenov and Yerlan Nyssanbaev, Kazakhstan

Fabien Dupuis, France

Group photo of the Secretariat

Around the venue

Dinner reception on the Danube, hosted by the government of Hungary

Daily Web CoverageAbout | 17 Nov | 18 Nov | 19 Nov | Summary