Ivory Coast to approve United Nations Watercourses Convention

Green Cross congratulates Ivory Coast for taking a key step to becoming the 32nd country to ratify the United Nations Watercourses Convention. Just three more nations need to follow suit for the treaty to enter into force, in turn ushering in the first global framework to share the world’s cross-border watercourses and connected underground reservoirs.

Ivory Coast’s Parliament adopted on 19 November 2013 a law allowing the West African country to ratify the treaty, officially known as the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. Formal listing among the Convention’s State parties is needed before Ivory Coast is officially recognized as the 32nd Party.

The Ivorian accession follows those of ECOWAS Member States Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin, and confirms West Africa’s leadership in realizing this ambitious legal framework on the use, management and protection of international watercourses.

Green Cross Ivory Coast President Koffi Mathieu Mahika said: “Ratification and implementation of the UN Watercourses Convention will enable West African countries like Ivory Coast to better share, manage and protect their transboundary basins, like the Volta River. Only eight of the 28 West African transboundary basins currently benefit from a basin agreement. The UN Watercourses Convention will harmonize all the agreements and apply to each transboundary basin, including the smaller ones, which we know will be used more and more.”

Almost two-thirds of all freshwater is generated by the world’s 276 international watercourses, just 40% of which are served by a cooperative agreement between States.

Since 2006, Green Cross has collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund and other partners to promote how the UN Watercourses Convention can provide transboundary watercourses with a solid cooperation framework that, ultimately, can help tackle the global water crisis, and promote cooperation, not conflict, over water.

The water crisis has many dimensions. Demographic growth and economic development put unprecedented pressure on renewable, but finite, water resources and fragile ecosystems, especially in arid regions. By 2025, 1,800 million people are expected to live in countries or regions with “absolute” water scarcity. Decreasing water resources, increased pollution, climate change, urbanization and a growing demand are other hallmarks of the water crisis.

Like most West African nations, Ivory Coast depends on cross-border watercourses, sharing eight with its neighbors: the Volta River with Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Mali and Benin; the Cavally River with Liberia and Guinea; the Sassandra with Guinea; the Komoe with Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali; the Bia and the Tano Rivers with Ghana; and the Baoulé and Bagoé rivers with Mali. In all, West Africa has 28 transboundary river basins, covering 71% of the region’s total landmass.

Other African parties to the UN Watercourses Convention are Chad, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa and Tunisia.

GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and conducts on-the-ground projects in more than 30 countries around the world.

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