International Waters (IW) interventions focus on transboundary water systems, such as river basin where water flows from onecountry to another; multi-country lake basins; groundwater resources shared by several countries; or large marine ecosystems (LME) bounded by more than one country. With the support of UNDP, countries work with their neighbors to modifyhumanactivities – including agriculture, industry, mining, water and other resource of extraction, fishing and wastewater management – that place ecological stress on the water systems and degrade them, often affecting their downstream use by another country or community. In this way, water use conflicts can be prevented, security and livelihoods improved, habitats protected, health risks minimized and water resources used sustainably for the benefit of all.
What has been done?
Currently, the UNDP Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) has five ongoing projects.
Given its international approach, IW projects have enhanced transboundary cooperation to exceptional levels, as in the case of the combined work between Argentina and Uruguay towards the achievement of an ecosystem-based sustainable management of the Rio de la Plata basin (FREPLATA Project). Moreover, the project on the sustainability of the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) and its adjacent regions counts with the participation of 23 countries of the region, representing the largest number of countries in a GEF project.
All projects have been able to reinforce public and private sector capacities that contribute to reduce water pollution through the development of innovative platforms that enhance collaboration policies amongst these sectors. Likewise, the establishment of basic hydrologic monitoring and knowledge management systems has been accomplished, which allows the exchange of learned lessons and experiences during the process of integral transboundary water resource management.
In general, policies and legislatives reforms have been attained by the acquired commitment of the participant countries. For example, the signed agreements of the 13 countries involved in the Integral Watershed and Coastal Areas Management in the Caribbean Small Island Developing States project, have introduced an ecosystem-based integral management approach in the implementation of development projects.
The projects have been able to establish Marine Protected Areas in different zones of the Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem (HCLME), along the coasts of Peru and Chile. In addition, the well-field area of the Basseterre Valley Aquifer in St. Kitts and Nevis was officially designated as National Park under the National Conservation and Environmental Protection Act. Through these and future designations we aim to assure the conservation and resilience of water ecosystems.
We aim at implementing four (4) additional “International Water” projects in the Region with regard to:
- Several transboundary river basins and aquifers,
- Implementing an integrated approach to water, land, and ecosystems services management, as well as the Central American Pacific LME)
- Implementation of 2 cross-regional initiatives on by-catch reduction
- Strengthened country capacity for adaptive governance and sustainable resources management in the Southern Atlantic Oceans
Through these projects under execution and in the pipeline, UNDP supports 16 of the region’s countries and 12 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the effort towards improved, sustainable and more resilient aquatic ecosystem and associated resources management.