WWF: Govts must enforce water convention

Governments are failing to enforce the UN Watercourses Convention more than a decade after scores of national governments voted for it to be brought into effect.

More than 100 states voted for the treaty in 1997, but since then, only 16 nations out of 35 that are required to bring it into force have joined the convention.

Speaking at World Water Week, WWF director-general James Leape called on governments to support the agreement, which he said could play a key role in water security for about 40% of the world’s population.

Launching a WWF booklet on the treaty at World Water Week, in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, Mr Leape said: “This essential treaty has languished in limbo for more than a decade, largely due to the failure of nations in not signing up to what they long ago agreed to.”

He added: “Because most of the world’s transboundary river basins lack adequate legal protection, the world needs a global framework for sustainably managing and preventing disputes over those resources.

“This is the only such framework available in the timescale to help us deal with a growing water crisis.”

If the treaty is brought into force and widely implemented, it could help to end the chaos of water grabbing and improve the health of 263 rivers and lakes in 145 countries, WWF said.

Mr Leape praised the efforts of Ghana, the Netherlands and the Economic Community of West Africa States to urge their neighbours to act.

During a speech in the opening session of World Water Week, Mr Leape also highlighted the effect dwindling water resources is having on food supplies and prices.

“Behind the world food crisis is a global freshwater crisis, expected to rapidly worsen as climate change impacts intensify,” he told delegates.

“Irrigation-fed agriculture provides 45% of the world’s food supplies, and without it, we could not feed our planet’s population of 6bn people.”

Kate Martin

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