From 19 to 20 May 2022, Geneva hosted the thirteenth meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health, organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe).

The purpose of the meeting was to review progress in the implementation of the programme of work for 2020-2022 under the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, and to discuss the draft programme of work for the next triennium.

Members of the Working Group, representatives of interested state bodies responsible for health and water resources, and international organizations were invited to participate in the meeting.

2

Secretary of the Water Convention

The meeting addressed issues such as progress in the ratification process for the Protocol, improving water and health governance: supporting target setting and implementation of related measures, building resilience to climate change, equitable access to water supply and sanitation, prevention and reduction of water-related diseases.

On the progress of ratification of the Protocol, representatives of three countries have spoken: Italy, North Macedonia and Kazakhstan. Information on the process of Kazakhstan's accession to the Protocol was briefly presented by Nurzhan Kisabekov, the head of the Committee for Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Mr. Kisabekov said that Kazakhstan is in the last stages of accession to the Protocol and plans to complete all intergovernmental procedures this year. He also thanked the UNECE Secretariat for supporting Kazakhstan in this process.

4

Nurzhan Kisabekov, the head of the Committee for Sanitary and Epidemiological Control of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan

During the meeting, representatives of the Parties to the Protocol reported on progress in setting and revising their targets. The Working Group also reviewed the progress made with regard to the implementation of the Protocol's programme of work for 2020–2022.

The Parties to the Protocol noted that the measures and country plans drawn up under the Protocol illustrate its effectiveness. For example, 53% of wastewater in Israel undergoes tertiary treatment (filtration and disinfection), and treated wastewater is reused, mainly in agriculture. Modernization and proper maintenance of wastewater treatment plants in the country also aims to further reduce the load of pollutants in wastewater discharged into the environment. In Luxembourg, building rainwater retention basins, storm water basins and pumping stations will help manage forecast increases of rainy periods.

Further, the Working Group took note of participants' proposals for the future work of the Working Group and the program of work of the Protocol for 2023–2025 and encouraged all Parties to the Protocol and other states to contribute to its further development.

On November 16-18, 2022, the Sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health will take place. In this regard, the Working Group discussed the preparations for this event, including the draft agenda, thematic scope and the organization of the high-level meeting.

In the face of growing threats due to climate change, the 13th meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health provided an opportunity to discuss the way forward for countries to implement concrete measures in accordance with the legal framework of the Protocol to protect the population.

On May 6, 2022, a cooperation meeting on groundwater management in the frame of the Pretashkent transboundary aquifer (TBA) was held.

On April 26-27, 2022, the 82nd meeting of the Interstate Coordination Water Commission (ICWC) of Central Asia was held in Turkestan.

The Ministry of the Environment of Estonia and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), in cooperation with Finland, are organizing a special event marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), which was adopted in Helsinki in 1992. Estonia, currently chairing the Water Convention, will be hosting the anniversary event in Tallinn on Thursday 30 June 2022, at Tallinn Creative Hub and online.

 

On April 13-14, 2022, an expert meeting on monitoring, assessment and data exchange in a mixed format (Geneva and online) was held.

 

On April 12-13, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, the Pan-European Regional Preparatory Meeting was held for the UN-2023 Water Conference, organized in the context of the Water for Sustainable Development commitments in 2023 in New York. The meeting was organized with the participation of the United Nations Economic Commission (UNECE) together with UN-Water in hybrid format (online and offline).

 

The global water and sanitation community will meet in Senegal, Dakar, from 21 to 26 March 2022, for the 9th World Water Forum, under the theme “Water Security for Peace and Development.

Designed to be a "forum of awareness", the ninth Forum will discuss the global water challenges facing people and nature now and in the future. The goal is to accelerate the effective implementation of the global water agenda, which is a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs, especially in Africa, a continent where water is vital to human development.

 

On March 14, 2022, a capacity development workshop on science and policy interfaces for climate and disaster resilience was held. It was attended by stakeholders (Ministry of Emergency Situations, Climate Change Adaptation) from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

On February 22-25, 2022, an international online conference was held on the topic “The Silk Road of Knowledge: Science and Green Policy”, which was attended by representatives of various government bodies, international institutions, NGOs and interested experts in the field of water management and climate change. The conference was organized by the Kazakh-German University, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the program "Green Central Asia".

On 8-10 February 2022  UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 (IMI-SDG6) hosted the 2nd Global Workshop on Integrated Monitoring of SDG 6 on Water and Sanitation, which builds on the first global workshop held in the Hague in November 2017.

The overall purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform for country focal points and UN custodian agencies to take stock of the efforts to date to report on progress towards SDG 6, to look at next steps for using SDG 6 data, and to prepare for future work on SDG 6 monitoring and reporting.