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Transboundary water cooperation crucial for peace, sustainable development and human well-being

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Namibia has expressed interest in acceding to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, which is essentially a water convention by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) that aims to ensure the sustainable use of transboundary water resources. Namibia is one of the driest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and shares all five of its perennial rivers with neighbouring countries.

“Namibia’s undertaking to the convention has become more and more important as water diplomacy is increasingly becoming a cornerstone for transboundary water management, not only to avoid harm to others but also to benefit from each other,” the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Anna Shiwedha, said.

Shiweda made this remark at a national workshop that focused on informing participants about the water convention

The workshop also aimed to facilitate discussions regarding the benefits, strategic objectives and practical implementation of the convention.

“In today’s interconnected world, water availability is directly related to peace and security. Worldwide pressure on fresh water is rising, with climate change, pollution and growing demand for water further contributing to water insecurity,” Shiweda added.

The secretary to the water convention, Sonja Koeppel, also emphasised the importance of transboundary water cooperation, saying that it is “crucial for peace, sustainable development and human well-being”. However, she added, many challenges persist, while new challenges emerge with regards to transboundary water cooperation.

“As an effective global legal and intergovernmental framework and platform for transboundary cooperation and sustainable development of shared waters, including ground waters, the water convention helps countries to address those challenges,” Koepel explained.

Koepel further noted that Namibia has already taken crucial steps to accede to the convention by sending an official letter of interest to the convention secretary last October.

In addition to this, she noted, the agriculture minister, Calle Schlettwein, also announced the country’s interest in the convention last year.

According to the Head of Cooperation Counsellor at the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Namibia, Achim Schaffert, through this cooperation and peer learning, European and African countries will develop strategic policies to gain knowledge to better manage water resources in the context of climate change and population growth.

Shiweda also highlighted that Namibia envisions gaining new insights for enhanced transboundary cooperation, conflict resolution and regional stability.

She, therefore, called on national, regional and global stakeholders for support to make Namibia’s accession to the water convention a reality.

“Transboundary water cooperation is one of the mechanisms aimed at ensuring that water is not a source of conflict, but a symbol of partnerships, joint progress and economic development. It is precisely for this reason, that Namibia expressed an interest to be part of the water convention,” Shiweda said.