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Appeal of Participants of the International Conference on Transboundary River Basins to Governments and International Organizations

We, the participants of the International Conference on Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins, held within the framework of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”,2005-2015, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from May 30 to June 1, 2005, representing Governments, International and Interstate Organizations, International Finance Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations, Educational and Scientific Institutes, and private businesses,

  • confirming our adherence to the principles and goals of sustainable development, proclaimed by relevant United Nations conferences held in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and Johannesburg (2002) and, adopted at the highest intergovernmental levels;
  • supporting the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and willing to make valuable and concrete contributions to their acheivement;
  • striving for the implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution À/RES/58/217 of December 23, 2003, which proclaimed 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action “Water for life” and expressing our readiness to contribute to the implementation of the Decade with concrete actions;
  • highlighting the importance of the International Decade for Action “Water for life”, 2005-2015, and its potential contribution to the Millennium Development Goals to halve the number of people who have no access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015;
  • stressing the importance of the Dushanbe International Conference on Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins as an important link between the 3rd and the 4th World Water Forums;
  • underlining that “water” is a cross-cutting tool in implementing of any of the Millenium Development Goals;
  • emphasizing the fact that water is the common property of all peoples of the Earth and that it is fundamental to the lives, the security and sustainable development of current and future generations;
  • recalling that water is a key factor to poverty and famine erradication, and is the main supporting element for the proper functioning of all ecosystems;
  • recognizing that water is a potential source of regional disagreements or conflicts, but can also be a catalyst for peace and a subject for cooperation if managed appropriately on the basis of established legal principles and tools;
  • welcoming and supporting global and regional partnership initiatives such as the European Water Initiative, the Global Water Partnership, International Partnership on Mountainous Areas Sustainable Development, “East-West” Partnership on Ecological Strategy of Eastern European, the Caucasus and Central Asian countries;
  • noting that the Aral Sea Basin ecosystem is highly vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts and to uncoordinated use of the resources of the transboundary Syr-Darya and Amu Darya rivers;
  • highlighting the lead role and ultimate responsibilities of Sovereign States in the effective and cooperative management of transboundary water resources, which should involve the civil society, non-governmental organizations and local communities;

Call upon the Governments to:

  • develop national water policies and cooperative regional strategies for the management of transboundary river basins within the framework of the International Decade for Action “Water for life”, 2005-2015, aiming at achieving the goals set by the international community and demonstrating the political will to meet these goals;
  • create when needed, effective legal, institutional and economical mechanisms to support regional cooperation in transboundary river basins, and allow the implementation of the water resources management policies mutually agreed;
  • foster regional cooperation over transboundary water resources, applying the methodologies developed by UNESCO’s PCCP initiative (from Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential), along with the engagement of the newly established Water Cooperation Facility;
  • approve and apply existing international legal tools related to the use of transboundary water resources;
  • facilitate the improvement and development of water legislation, its harmonization at the regional level directed at stimulation of water savings, strengthening the economic mechanism of water use;
  • focus on the development of country driven multilateral and mutually beneficial agreements for the joint development and management of transboundary rivers, following “need-based” negotiations, and in coherence with the international water laws, the main principles of integrated management approaches, and in respect of river basins specificities;
  • work towards building confidence and fostering trust in the interrelation between riparian countries sharing transboundary river basins, with the active involvement of the civil society, nongovernmental organizations, private sector and local communities, in the negotiation and decision making processes;
  • develop appropriate institutions, when inexistent, to handle transboundary water issues following the river basin approach;
  • encourage the regular exchange of cooperative and best practices in transboundary river basins;
  • establish coordination mechanisms between private businesses, especially foreign corporate interests on one hand, and common regional and national interests related to transboundary river basin on the other hand, in a transparent manner with long term stability;
  • commit to (a) reduce political risks for the interests of investments towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially in the water supply sector; (b) remove the narrowly sectored interdepartmental, customs, tax and other obstacles and frames for cooperation; (c) create advantageous conditions for the activities of the concerned groups and sectors in the interest of sustainable development;
  • encourage regional educational systems and establish cooperative regional knowledge bases as an important long-term investment: by (a) continuing to develop Master and PhD programmes, (b) strengthening existing linkages between regional and foreign educational and training institutes with the establishment of appropriate funding mechanisms for scholarship programmes, and (c) calling for the support of the international community;
  • undertake joint studies on the impacts that global changes and other global drivers, such as climate changes, population increase, land use change, changing migration patterns and urbanization, will likely have on the distribution of water in transboundary river basins, both in space and time;
  • agree upon efficient procedures for the planning of hydro-power projects, taking into account the whole river basin, the products that can be drived from water recourses, such as energy, and agricultural products, as well as the ecological, social and economical impacts of such projects on the natural resources and on the interest of all riparian countries.

We appeal to Governments and International Organizations to

  • develop assessments criteria and indicators related to building effective cooperation in transboundary river basins;
  • take into account the central role of water in (a) the erradication of poverty, (b) the provision of food security, and (c) the improvement of environmental conditions and sanitary-epidemiological conditions, when addressing the issues of water resources management in transboundary rivers;
  • resolve regional water problems on the basis of human principle which are common to all mankind and not in the light of political, racial, national and such other considerations;
  • acknowledge the historical context and traditions in resolving conflicts over transboundary water resources, furthermore, consider water only as an element of cooperation and not a source of couflicts;
  • support the organization of regular international meetings and conferences aiming at monitoring the implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for life”, 2005-2015, and at improving the interactions between countries and international organizations to successfully conduct this Decade;
  • support the permanent exchange of information related to the implementation of different measures corresponding to the Millennium Development Goals and the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, 2005-2015;
  • request the Organizating Committee of the International Conference on Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins to set-up a special group that would apply and monitor the achievement of the recommendations included in this Appeal in order to bring the results to the 4th World Water Forum (Mexico City) and to sum up the results of the International Decade 2005-2015;
  • create the conditions to improve the role of women in the management and rational use of water resources for the sake of families`well-being, upbringing of new generations and sustainable development of the society;
  • take measures to improve of drinking water supply, sanitary and health protection paying particular attention to children and future generations;
  • widen public awareness in accordance with water challenges of the 3rd Millennium;
  • make regional and national reports on their activities and provide reports on co-operation in sustainable development in transboundary river basins to be submitted to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development by 2007;
  • envisage in bilateral and multilateral agreements on the use of transboundary rivers provisions on the:
    • regular exchanges of data using international standard mechanisms, joint data collection programs and joint planning for their use in the achievement of goals;
    • impact assessment of the different water uses on the environment;
    • acknowledgement by riparian countries of the principles of no harming use, and reasonable and equitable use of transboundary water resources;
    • respect of other legal and administrative rules related to the use of water resources;
    • joint studies on the deterioration of water quality and proper joint measures for its improvement;
    • organization of financial and technical cooperation in the consumption and use of water resources in transboundary river basins.

We welcome the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan on the preparation of a partnership agreement by all stakeholders for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the completion of the 2nd Phase of the Aral Sea Basin Program by 2010. Such an agreement would also include the adoption of concrete obligations by all stakeholders and provisions for the creation of favorable conditions for investments.

We appeal to the United Nations Organization to consider the possibility of implementing the provisions made on October 6, 2002, by the Heads of Central Asian States, in the Dushanbe Declaration, calling for the establishement of a mechanism, that would be placed under the UN auspices, and coordinate the activities of international organizations and donor agencies relating to the resolution of the the Aral Sea basin problems. We also appeal to the UN to declare this basin as a “high priority pilot region” for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

We, the participants of the International conference on regional cooperation in transboundary river basins

  • call upon our respective Governments and relevant International Organizations to acknowledge the above recommendations and to take proper actions for their realization;
  • request the Organizing Committee of the Conference to develop a comprehensive action plan, taking into account our recommendations and findings to promote effective regional and international cooperation in transboundary river basins and regularly inform on its implementation at subsequent international events including the 4th World Water Forum.

Adopted by consensus, by the participants of the International Conference on Regional Cooperation in Transboundary River Basins,
May 31, 2005 Dushanbe, Tajikistan