Spain ratifies Watercourses Convention

Spain is the latest country to ratify the UN Watercourses Convention bringing the total of contracting states to 18 with 35 ratifications needed for entry into force.

The International Convention on the Non-Navigational Use of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention) drew the support of an overwhelming majority of nations when passed by the UN in 1997 as the framework for resolving water disputes and promoting cooperation on water management between States.
However, even as the world grew more anxious about dwindling water supplies and the growing impacts of climate change became more evident, the treaty languished for more than a decade. “Therefore GCI, together with the WWF, are urging governments to ratify or accede and to engage in the process for its future implementation,” said GCI Water Programme Director David Alix. “The Convention is an important legal instrument to govern water resources, which are being greatly impacted by effects of climate change.”
“Spain’s ratification of the Convention comes at a vital time with the UN Climate Change negotiations in Copenhagen less than 2 months away and Spain’s upcoming roll as EU Presidency in 2010,” said Alberto Fraguas, Executive Director of Green Cross Spain. He also added that “the boost of integral policies regarding with Climate Change and the water management at national and, even, international level, are related to the job creation and, at international stage, to fight against poverty. It also is related to global security, because it minimizes the risk of conflicts among different territories.”
Half the world’s land surface is drained by international waterways containing more than two thirds of global freshwater flows. Three quarters of the world’s countries face potential disputes with neighbours over shared rivers, lakes, wetlands or aquifers.
Spain, one of Europe’s largest water users, is no stranger to international water agreements, concluding the Albufeira Convention on river management with Portugal in 1998. It is also a party to the European Water Framework Directive but is experiencing difficulties in implementing the directive, like other Mediterranean nations such as Italy and Greece.
Spain’s ratification brings to the total needed past the halfway mark.
“In the past year, Tunisia and Spain have ratified the UN Watercourses Convention and we have received indications from other nations that they are working towards ratification,” said Flavia Loures, WWF International Water Law and Policy Senior Program Officer. We are really getting the sense there is some momentum building.”

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