President at UN COP27: Cross-border cooperation needed on water shortages

President Alar Karis at the UN COP27 conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
President Alar Karis at the UN COP27 conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

Finding solutions on water supply without resorting to conflict is vital, President of Estonia Alar Karis says.

Speaking at the UN Climate Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which the Estonian head of state has been attending this week, President Karis said: "The livelihoods and health of billions of people depend on their access to water. We know that climate change will make the situation even more difficult; if the current situation continues, 40 percent of the water needed by 2030 will be missing. This means that conflicts over access to water are inevitable."

The president invited all UN member states that share trans-boundary watercourses with their neighbors to join the UN's Water Convention, which incorporates a global network of river basins and offers an opportunity to share experiences in dealing with climate change. 

Within the framework of the convention, countries are also offered support for the construction of joint or coordinated monitoring and data exchange.

"The UN Water Convention, of which Estonia is the lead country until 2024, offers a platform for cooperation to solve cross-border water resource issues," the president said, via a press release.

As a concrete example of an issue that the convention recently helped to resolve, the president referred to an aquifer lying between Senegal and Mauritania, as well as one lying between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and another in the Dniester basin, which is shared by Moldova and Ukraine.

Since 60 percent of the world's surface water resources are shared by two or more countries at the same time, the sharing of cross-border water resources is of increasing importance, he added, making it all the more important to have a legal framework which allows countries that share trans-boundary water bodies to cooperate, share water resources and adapt to climate change.

The president has attended the United Nation's COP27 global climate conference in Sharm el Sheikh, and returns to Estonia today, Wednesday.

Estonian Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) is also attending COP27.

The UN Climate Conference takes place for the 27th time this year and runs November 6-18, and will be attended by approximately, 30,000 delegates from around 200 countries and territories.

Estonia is presenting plans to abandon oil shale mining, refining and burning, as well as showcasing its "Teeme Ära" World Clean Up Day initiative.

Britain's former prime minister, Boris Johnson, has also been in attendance in Sharm el Sheikh, informing the conference that he is "the spirit of Glasgow" (the Scottish city which was the location of the previous COP26 conference exactly one year ago) and calling for no let-up in the goal of net zero, or  cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

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