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Transboundary Aquifers: Celebrating Achievements in Cooperation (UNESCO-IHP GGRETA Project)

28 March 2019

The UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) has been entrusted by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to execute the second phase of the “Groundwater Resources Governance in Transboundary Aquifers (GGRETA)” project (2016-2019). To date, the project has supported the establishment of cooperative frameworks among countries regarding three transboundary aquifers: The Stampriet Aquifer (Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) in Southern Africa, the Ocotepeque-Citala Aquifer (El Salvador and Honduras) in Central America, and the Pretashkent Transboundary Aquifer (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) in Central Asia.

The main goals of the GGRETA 'Phase 2' project were to enhance cooperation on water security, prevent transboundary and water-use conflicts, and improve overall environmental sustainability.

The project has served to respond to the pressing need for increased knowledge on the physical and socioeconomic characteristics of the three transboundary aquifers, namely by:
1) Reinforcing the capacity of Member States in managing groundwater resources through tailored capacity-building activities;
2) Strengthening cooperation among countries sharing the aquifers; and
3) Developing long-term strategies for the monitoring and governance of the aquifers’ groundwater resources.

As a result of the joint efforts of UNESCO and Member States, the project has led to promising advances towards cooperation for improved governance in each of the transboundary aquifers. In addition, more than 300 experts have been trained on several key components of groundwater governance  throughout the project (e.g. groundwater modelling, international water law, water and gender).

The Final Meeting of the project was the opportunity for project partners and stakeholders to share experiences regarding the three transboundary aquifers, and discuss the way forward and a plan of activities for the third phase of the GGRETA project.