OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (r), Ambassador Carlos Sanchez de Boado of Spain (c) and Deputy Mayor of Zaragoza Ricardo Berdie, second preparatory conference for the 15th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum, Zaragoza, 12 March 2007. (OSCE)
Water is a precious resource. Co-operation on sustainable use and protection of water can help build confidence and stability in the OSCE region. However, the absence of effective dialogue can create the conditions for disputes on water resources and jeopardize security.
Improving governance of water resources is, therefore, a high priority for the OSCE. It is also a prerequisite for achieving the goals as set out in the 2003 Maastricht Strategy Document for the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension. Good governance principles, transparency, combating corruption and the enhancement of public and private co-operation are furthermore areas highlighted in the Maastricht document and particularly relevant to the water sector, both at a national and international level.
Above all, the OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum process has focused on water issues on three occasions.
- Water issues first became a focus in 2002 at the 10th Forum, where co-operation for the sustainable use and protection of quality of water was the main topic.
- Later, the 15th Forum in 2007 concentrated on the key challenges to the environmental security in the OSCE region, among which water management was an important issue. As a result of the Forum the Ministerial Decision on water management was adopted. The Decision emphasized the closer cooperation with the UNECE and other international organizations in the sphere of water management, called upon participating states to enhance cooperation over water management, and encouraged implementation of international instruments and OSCE commitments.
- Finally, the 16th Forum in 2008 touched upon maritime and inland waterways co-operation in order to increase security and promote the protection of the environment.
In the light of the above, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities has, since 2002, been actively engaged in enhancing the dialogue on water issues and implementing projects that clearly show progress in water governance and transboundary co-operation in the water sector.