A high-level conference on water cooperation will take place from 20 to 22 August in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Organized jointly by the government of Tajikistan and the United Nations, the conference is held within the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation.

Emomalii Rahmon, the President of Tajikistan, will open the meeting with the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; UN-Water Chair, Michel Jarraud; Tajikistan’s Minister for Economic Development and Trade, Sharif Rahimzoda; Uganda’s Water Minister, Flavia Nabugere; and the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Sven Alkalaj.

The conference will feature thematic sessions and expert panel discussions. Moderated by various United Nations agencies, the discussions will focus on water cooperation and economic benefits, ecosystems and gender equality. UNESCO* and l’UNECE will moderate an experts’ group on water cooperation across national borders. The debates will highlight the benefits of water cooperation through examples of best practices and success stories with the aim of encouraging decision-makers worldwide to pursue such cooperation.

In 2010, following Tajikistan’s proposal, the General Assembly of United Nations proclaimed 2013 as International Year of Water Cooperation. At the request of UN-Water, UNESCO was appointed lead agency for the Year in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The year was launched on 11 February at UNESCO’s Headquarters.

There are 276 transboundary river basins in the world (64 in Africa, 60 in Asia, 68 in Europe, 46 in North America and 38 in South America). In numerous cases, transboundary waters have given rise to cooperation agreements. Nearly 450 agreements on international waters were signed between 1820 and 2007 (OSU, 2007).