International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #7
Monday, 10 December 2012 12:07

In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation following a proposal submitted by a group of countries, initiated by Tajikistan. Members of UN-Water agreed that World Water Day on 22 March 2013 should also be dedicated to the same theme. In August 2011, UN-WATER officially appointed UNESCO to lead preparations for both the International Year of Water Cooperation and World Water Day in 2013, in cooperation with UNECE and with the support of UNDESA, UNW-DPC and UNW-DPAC.

The objective of this International Year is to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services. The Year will highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify burning issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and the linkages with the Millennium Development Goals. It also will provide an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum created at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and to support the formulation of new objectives that will contribute towards developing water resources that are truly sustainable.

Celebrations throughout the Year will include featured events at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, as well as many other events organized by various stakeholders around the world. Such events will seek to promote actions at all levels in relevant areas including education, culture, gender, the sciences, conflict prevention and resolution, as well as ethics, among others.

  • At the international level water appears to provide reasons for transboundary cooperation rather than war. Looking back over the past 50 years, there have been some 37 cases of reported violence between states over water — and most of the episodes have involved only minor skirmishes. Meanwhile, more than 200 water treaties have been negotiated. Some of these treaties — such as the Indus Basin Treaty between India and Pakistan — have remained in operation even during armed conflict.
  • One clear message from the record is that even the most hostile enemies have a capacity for cooperation on water. Most governments recognize that violence over water is seldom a strategically workable or economically viable option. The institutions that they create to avert conflict have shown extraordinary resilience. The considerable time taken to negotiate the establishment of these institutions — 10 years for the Indus Treaty, 20 years for the Nile Basin Initiative, 40 years for the Jordan agreement — bears testimony to the sensitivity of the issues.
  • Disaster can be a catalyst for cooperation. It was not until the Chernobyl disaster, which led to radioactive caesium deposits in reservoirs and increased risk of exposure to radioactivity all the way down to the Black Sea that governments responded to the challenge of improving river quality.
  • Where cooperation fails to develop or breaks down, all countries stand to lose — and the poor stand to lose the most. Failures in cooperation can cause social and ecological disasters, as in Lake Chad and the Aral Sea. They also expose smaller, vulnerable countries to the threat of unilateral actions by larger, more powerful neighbours.

The World Water Week in Stockholm 2013 will be also on the theme “Water Cooperation: Building Partnerships.” The Global Water Partnership is an official Collaborating Partner of the WWW in Stockholm 2013. As Collaborating Partner for the entire week, GWP is specifically co-convening the 2 workshops: 1. Cooperation across and within jurisdictions and levels for good water governance — local to global; and 2. Climate change adaptation and mitigation — promoting coherence.

The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes provides a sound legal framework for stable and reliable cooperation and for achieving the goal of sustainable, equitable and reasonable use of transboundary surface waters and ground waters. Most of the transboundary water agreements negotiated after the break up of the Soviet Union and of former Yugoslavia are modelled on the Convention. Among them are the 1994 Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the River Danube and the 1999 Convention on the Protection of the Rhine. Other examples include the agreements on the rivers Sava, Meuse and Scheldt, on Lake Peipsi, as well as on Kazakh-Russian and Russian-Ukrainian transboundary waters. The Convention has also inspired agreements beyond the UNECE region.

The Water Convention has influenced the work of many joint bodies and prompted the establishment of several new ones. Examples include the commissions for the Oder and Sava Rivers, and for lakes Peipsi and Ohrid.

The United Nations Resolution about the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 is available here: Resolution A/RES/65/154.

For more information, please, visit:

about International Year of Cooperation 2013

- 2013 – UN International Year of Water Cooperation

about the UN International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005–2015

- Water cooperation webpage of

about the World Water Day on 22 March 2013, dedicated to water cooperation

- 2013 World Water Day,.

about the World Water Week in Stockholm 2013

 World Water Week in Stockholm 2013

about UN ECE the Water Convention