Suresh Limbachiya

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Year 2013 — Celebration — International Year of Water Cooperation

Posted by Suresh Limbachiya on 26/01/2013

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Year 2013

International Year of Water Cooperation

Why we celebrate Year 2013 as International Year of Water Cooperation

In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation . In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. Therefore, UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation, in particular because of the Organization’s unique multidisciplinary approach which blends the natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication. Given the intrinsic nature of water as a transversal and universal element, the United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation naturally would embrace and touch upon all these aspects.

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 and to support the formulation of new objectives that will contribute towards developing water resources that are truly sustainable.

Did you know?

  • 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 benefits of cooperation

  • Gains from cooperation can include the costs averted by reducing tensions and disputes between neighbours. Strained interstate relations linked to water management can inhibit regional cooperation across a broad front, including trade, transport, telecommunications and labour markets. Obvious examples include the Euphrates, Indus and Jordan Basins.
  • Cooperative approaches to river systems can also generate less tangible political benefits. The Nile Basin Initiative links Egypt politically and economically to poor countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. These links have the potential to create spillover benefits. For example, the political standing that Egypt has acquired through the Nile Basin Initiative could reinforce its emergence as a partner and champion of African interests at the World Trade Organization.
  • Cooperation at the basin level can promote efficient techniques for water storage and distribution, expanding irrigation acreage. The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 was the precursor to the massive expansion of irrigation works in India, which in turn played an important role in the green revolution.
  • Cooperation between municipalities and private providers can stimulate resource mobilization. The Tamil Nadu Urban Development Fund, established by state authorities in 1996, developed the Water and Sanitation Pooled Fund—a 300 million rupee facility generated through bond markets for 14 small municipalities—with a partial credit guarantee from the US Agency for International Development.

Cooperation provides a foundation for change

  • Decentralized cooperation. The decentralized international financing approach developed in France is an example. New legislation in 2005—the Oudin Santini law— established a framework for decentralized cooperation in water and sanitation covering six French basin agencies. Local authorities can now dedicate up to 1% of their water and sanitation budgets to international development programmes. In 2005 around $37 million was committed. If other high income countries were to adopt this type of scheme, it could generate about $3 billion a year by one estimate, an important new flow of financing for water and sanitation.
  • In urban slums with large and highly concentrated populations, the success of any community initiative depends on individual participation, especially for improved sanitation. Orangi is a large, low-income informal settlement in Karachi, Pakistan. Home to more than a million people, it is a success story of the power of communities to expand access to sanitation. The Orangi Pilot Project, which began as a small community-led initiative, scaled up through cooperation with local governments. Scaling up matters because small isolated projects cannot spark or sustain national progress. At the same time, the energy and innovation of community actions can strengthen government capacity to deliver change.

UN initiatives that are helping to raise the issue…

  • 22 March 2013: World Water Day 2013 on Water Cooperation. On 22 March 2013 World Water Day will be celebrated under the theme “Water Cooperation”. The Day is organized as part of the International Year of Water Cooperation. The aim of the celebrations is to raise awareness on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources with a special focus on water cooperation, its challenges and benefits.

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2 Responses to “Year 2013 — Celebration — International Year of Water Cooperation”

  1. priya said

    save water.

  2. milanmaths said

    wow…very useful information..thank u…

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