Friday, November 07, 2008

New convention on shared transboundary aquifers

On 27 October 2008, the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) submitted the draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers to the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The convention, which applies to underground aquifers, most of which straddle national boundaries and that represent 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources, is intended to address environmental threats to these water resources caused by climate change, increased population pressure, over-exploitation and human-induced water pollution. The draft articles for the convention, adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) in August 2008, represent six years of work by the ILC with the assistance of experts from UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme.

UNESCO has also published a map of shared aquifers, the first global inventory of this resource. The inventory includes 38 shared aquifers in Africa, including the Southeast Kalahari / Karoo Basin.

The first inventory of African Transboundary Aquifers was produced during the Tripoli workshop. Some of the identified aquifers were studied in detail under coordination of regional bodies. In 2005 the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) refined the delineation of 20 transboundary aquifers in the SADC region. In early 2008 members of the International Shared Aquifer Resource Management (ISARM) core-group (UNESCO-IHP, IAH and IGRAC) supported establishment of a Regional Centre for the Management of Shared Groundwater Resources in Libya.

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