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Climate change threatens water sustainability – UNECE  

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The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention on Thursday said climate change is posing as a threat to water sustainability.

Mr Peter Kovacs, UNECE Chair said water would be the most important issue in the future; however, its sustainability would be affected by climate change, limited resources, flood forecasting among other factors.

He noted that there is the need for countries to identify these factors, consider the interest of their neighbours and negotiate with them for a common cooperative goal.

Mr Kovacs stated at the 70th edition of the National Learning Alliance Platform Meeting (NLAPM), in Accra with a call on stakeholders in the water sector to have better cooperation with neighbours towards the sustainability of water issues in the country.   

Mr Kovacs who is also the Water Director of Hungary added that, politically, there was the need for an expressive willingness and readiness exchange of hydrological information to neighbours among countries, and this, he noted would help improve water usage and the saving of technology.

He, therefore, called for policies and right decisions that would help Ghana to represent Africa in water management in the sub-regions and hopefully across the Globe.

Mr Ben Ampomah, the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission, organisers of the NLAPM, said, empirical studies over the past 50 years, had shown that a total number of water-related events between nations, were weighted towards cooperation.

He said: ”There were about 150 conflict-related events, against 1,230 cooperative ones, implying that cooperation over water, and not conflict, is the most strategically rational, effective and economically viable choice.”    

He said, Ghana was sharing the Volta, Tano and Bia River Basins as well as some aquifers with Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, the rivers and aquifers link Ghana’s populations and create social and economic inter-dependencies between the two countries.

“Such thinking and developments have influenced Ghana’s strategic position of cooperating fully with her riparian neighbours and other global riparian watercourse countries.

“However, legal agreements are vital tools to foster and secure the required trans-boundary water cooperation,” he said.

Mr Ampomah said under the National Water Policy, Ghana is a signatory to a number of international laws, protocols, agreements and declarations that placed obligations on the government in the use and management of water resources and the environment.

However, Ghana is not a party to the two key global agreements – the 1992 Convention on the Protection and the Use of Trans boundary Watercourses, and the International Lakes and the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of the International Watercourses, which is opened to all United Nations (UN) Member States.

Professor Alistair Rieu-Clarke, the Legal Officer of the Water Convention Secretariat, explained that the two key global agreements served as a mechanism to strengthen international cooperation and national measures for the ecologically sound management and protection of trans-boundary surface waters and ground water.

“And it is heart-warming Ghana is seeking to be a party to these two legal agreements and therefore take the two conventions through the same ratification process,” he said.  

Mr Francois Pujolas, the French Ambassador to Ghana, said France was committed to developing international works of water with African countries being the top priority, and Ghana being the first Anglophone country to benefit.

He called for peace and security towards the management of water resources in the country.

“Energy water relationships are also crucial for developments that will guarantee water management which is most sustainable for water development,” Mr Pujolas said.

The day’s engagement brought people from all the water agencies in Ghana and government institutions as well as development partners and NGOs in the water sector together to share ideas on how best the public could be sensitised towards the ratification of the UNECE Convention and the UN watercourses convention.

Some participants told the Ghana News Agency that, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), was a universal, affordable and sustainable access to WASH which is a key public health issue within international development and the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 6.

Source: GNA

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