The UN Watercourses Convention, adopted in 1997, is the only global Convention that governs the use, management and protection of international watercourses. Thirty-five countries must ratify it for it to enter into force, and as of 2013 there are a handful of signatures still needed.
There are 276 international watercourses in the world and about 270 cross-border underground bodies of water, known as aquifers. Only 40% of international watercourses are covered by agreements between governments on how to manage them. Many of these agreements have significant gaps and failings. These governance weaknesses must be addressed if the international community is to tackle global challenges such as a growing demand water and climate change. Implementation of the Convention will promote fair use and environmental protection of international watercourses, plus enable regional integration and sustainable development around the world.