UNESCO and UNECE promote regional technical discussions on transboundary water cooperation



Water experts from South America convened at the Workshop "Contribution to the achievement of the SDGs: Groundwater in the implementation of indicator 6.5.2, Sub-regional Workshop for South America" organized by UNESCO and UNECE along with other partners. Held at the UNESCO Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Montevideo, on November 22 and 23, 2018, the goal of the meeting was to share experiences and lessons learned on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the South American region, with particular emphasis on integrated water resources management, including transboundary groundwater.

The workshop began on November 22 at the UNESCO Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Montevideo, with opening remarks from Mr. Marcello Basani, IDB Senior Specialist, who encouraged stakeholders to bring transboundary groundwater management ‘above ground’ and to promote hydrodiplomacy in the region; and from Ms. Corina Piaggio, Communications Officer at GWP, who highlighted the opportunity that the meeting represented for countries to improve their work on the monitoring of Agenda 2030 indicators. On behalf of UNESCO IHP LAC, Mr. Miguel Doria, Regional Hydrologist, emphasized the benefits that water cooperation can bring to countries’ development needs.

Mr. Daniel Greif, National Director of Water of Uruguay (MVOTMA) addressed the challenges and opportunities brought forth by the meeting and invited countries to share their experiences. Likewise, the Undersecretary of Housing, Territorial Planning and the Environment of Uruguay, Mr. Jorge Rucks, inspired by the vision of an ‘integrating role’ for Latin America, welcomed the participating countries, and emphasized the necessary synergy among disciplines, institutions, generations and cultures for the integrated management of transboundary waters. Finally, to close the ceremony, Mr. Ricardo Domínguez, Director of the OAS Office, highlighted the important volumes of groundwater contained in the 30 transboundary aquifers located in South America, as well as the different cultures whose livelihoods are sustained by them, noting: "below earth we are much more integrated than on the surface".

UNESCO and UNECE, co-custodians of SDG 6 Indicator 6.5.2, convened the workshop with support of the Regional Center for Groundwater (CeReGAS), the Global Water Partnership for South America (GWP-South America), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Organization of American States. 

The participation of representatives from all South American countries created an enabling environment for open discussions and the exchange of experiences on the attainment of the SDGs, particularly in terms of integrated water resources management, including on transboundary groundwaters. As subject-matter experts dealing directly with water resources management within their countries, the representatives exchanged with each other and with UNESCO with a view of improving the monitoring process of the indicator, clarifying pending questions on the methodology to calculate it, and establishing collaboration mechanisms to improve information and data on aquifers in the next monitoring cycles of the indicator, due to take place every three years.

The results of this workshop and the commitment to maintain a network of communications are expected to improve the integration of information in the next monitoring cycles of SDG6 indicator 6.5.2 and foster cooperation on transboundary aquifers at the regional level.