Germany declares its hand on transboundary water issues
The German Government has backed a set of recommendations calling on the water industry to change its approach to transboundary water management.
The recommendations – agreed at the Villa Borsig Round Table in Berlin – will act as a starting point for Germany’s participation in international debates on transboundary water issues. They are especially critical of supply side initiatives which have “not resulted in environmentally sustainable water use” in many of the world’s shared river basins.
The Villa Borsig Round Table – hosted by the German Foundation for International Development – was convened in September to provide a chance for representatives from international rivers and lakes commissions to exchange experiences and identify ways of promoting their work.
The Round Table was supported by the German Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development, the Foreign Office and the World Bank.
In a statement, the Federal Government said that the Round Table’s recommendations would “provide a solid foundation on which to build closer co-operation with the [rivers and lakes] commissions.”
The recommendations call on riparian states to change from the “old paradigm” of supply side management in favour of actions to promote water conservation and efficient and sustainable use.
They are also highly critical of “inappropriate [water] pricing” which has “perpetuated inefficient use”, resulting in increased stress on water resources and the potential for disputes between different uses and different users in many parts of the world.
The recommendations call for rational economic instruments, including water tariffs with incentives for conservation.
Unless sound approaches to water management in transboundary basins are adopted, demand will increasingly exceed supply and unilateral action and dispute will replace co-operation, warned the German Foundation for International Development.
In a further sign of its commitment to handling transboundary water issues, the German Government has also announced that it will support a Round Table on the Management of Transboundary Waters in the Baltic Sea Region in 1999 and a Round Table on the Management of Transboundary Waters in the Nile Basin later in the same year.
It has also agreed to host an international conference on global water politics in 2002 as part of the process leading to the Rio + 10 Summit.
For further details contact Dr. Gudrun Kochendörfer-Lucius, Director of the German Foundation for International Development