UNESCO and World Water Council launch water cooperation facilityAn international mediating mechanism to help resolve problems over shared water resources will be launched by UNESCO, and the World Water Council (WWC), during a meeting at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft, The Netherlands, on November 25 and 26.
Known as the Water Cooperation Facility (WCF), this new body will include representatives from international organizations, national governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations active in water conflict management. It will advise conflicting parties on ways to reconcile their differences before resorting to expensive and often unproductive approaches such as litigation or continued struggle. The WCF will act only upon request of the parties involved in each situation.
The need for such a body arises from the growing demand and competition for the planet’s limited freshwater resources, and the diverging interests of water users. Furthermore, achieving cooperation among riparian countries of an international basin requires years of effort and is a costly process, requiring long-term commitment from the states concerned as well as from external donors and professionals.
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura first mooted the creation of the WCF on 21 March 2003 during the closing session of the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, in keeping with one of the recommendations adopted in the Forum’s session on Water and Peace.
Now a reality, the Facility will provide support for the management of shared water resources, based on an underlying principle of ‘solidarity’. It offers realistic options and helps parties to implement conflict resolution processes, under the guiding principles of willingness, consent, self-determination, impartiality and neutrality, and confidentiality.
The WCF will comprise an Advisory Board of approximately ten representatives elected from among the Facility’s partners, and a Core Staff. The Advisory Board will be responsible for selecting the cases to be dealt with and will assign a Response Team for each of them, whose progress it will evaluate. The Core Staff will be in charge, among other functions, of creating, managing and updating the databases of experts and professional institutions involved in shared water management issues; receiving the requests of parties and conducting a preliminary investigation on their positions and interests, as well as their objectives and expectations.
Cristina Gonzales, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, tel: +31 - (0)15 - 21 51 722; fax: +31 - (0)15 - 21 22 921, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Internet: www.unesco-ihe.org