Guinea stresses collaboration by riparian states for transboundary water management
- Experts throw light on safe water access by managing water resources which flow through multiple countries at Water Week conference at Expo 2020 Dubai
- Middle East’s 60 per cent of water comes from transboundary rivers while in Africa it is 90 per cent
Dubai, UAE, March 27, 2022: Guinea, known as the `Water Tower of Africa,’ stressed the importance of collaboration by riparian states across the world for equitable transboundary water management to bring safe water access to all, and to mitigate acute stress of the resource in many geographies, including in the Middle East.
Blue economy and sustainability experts participated in a conference titled “How do You Manage Water across Borders”, held at the Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the Dubai Water Week, said that out of the 2.5 per cent of freshwater resources available on the planet, 60 per cent comes from transboundary waters and managing it is imperative for the humanity’s survival.
“The issue of sharing water equitably in the contexts of rivers flowing through multiple countries is a matter of political and economic importance. For countries in the Middle East facing extreme water stress, sharing waters is a pertinent issue of survival,” said Fatoumata Conde, Deputy Commissioner General, Guinea pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Led by Guinea, the conference bought together major global stakeholders in transboundary water management and sustainability under one canopy, including experts from European Union, the Mekong River Commission, Niger River Authority, as well as thought leaders on the subject from Jordan, Costa Rica and Australia.
“This is the first time such a crucial topic has been addressed with major stakeholders presenting their expertise in the UAE. It is significant that we have been able to organize this conference in the region since water management is a cause of conflicting interests in many parts of the Middle East and Africa,” Fatoumata added.
The Middle East region is second to Africa when it comes to the large presence of rivers flowing across multiple borders and form 60 per cent of the region’s water supply. In the case of Africa, 90 per cent of the rivers and lakes of the continent are transboundary.
The Conference was organized by the General Commissionership for Guinea at Expo 2020 in partnership with the Guinean Ministry of Energy, Hydraulics and Hydrocarbons, the United Nations Program for Development in Guinea, the European Union and other participating pavilions at the Expo. The conference was opened by the Guinean Ministry of Energy, Hydraulics and Hydrocarbons, Mr. Ahmed Sekou Keita and Dr. Dena Assaf, Resident Coordinator of the UN in the UAE. The conference also featured experts from the EU and the UNDP.
“Transboundary water bodies are a crucial source, and world over there are 276 rivers that flow across multiple geographic borders. These rivers cover 45 per cent of the earth’s land surface with its basins home for 40 per cent of the world’s population, underlying the geopolitical nature of these resources,” Fatoumata said.
These water resources include Nile, Danube, Rhine, Columbia, Niger and Mekong basins. While most basins are shared between two countries, there are many which are shared by multiple countries which may differ in political, social and economic profiles. There are 13 basins worldwide shared between 5-8 countries. Five basins – Congo, Niger, Nile, Rhine and Zambezi – are shared between 9 to 11 countries. The river that flow through most nations is the Danube which winds its way across 18 nations.
In the case of Guinea, the country is a source of major transboundary rivers that ensure water access in the sub-region, including the Niger, Senegal and Gambia rivers. Guinea is responsible for freshwater access of over 160 million people.
Guinea has been involved in the transboundary water management discussions for long, Fatoumata said adding that the country is on several inter-governmental bodies like the Niger Basin Authority, Senegal River Basin Development Authority and the Gambian River Basin Development Organisation.
“The aim of the conference is to create an exchange platform on water management and help promote collaboration between countries on transboundary river management. We also hope to support creating fruitful partnerships between various global and regional stakeholders to enhance sustainable practices and promote investments in water management,” Fatoumata concluded.
About Guinea at Expo 2020
Guinea has been taking part in World Expos consistently with presence earlier in Hanover, Beijing, Astana and Milan, among others, as part of the African participation. However, at Expo 2020 Dubai, the country for the first time will have its own pavilion, which will help create a significant impact in communicating the country’s propositions to the world in a focused manner.
Guinea will showcase the country’s sustainable economic development driven by a National Economic and Social Development Plan based on the pillars of good governance, economic transformation, human capital development and protection of natural resources.
In line with Guinea’s image as the `Water tower of West Africa,’ the pavilion at Expo 2020 will have a devoted theme on sustainable development and urban renewal focused on water. The pavilion is titled “tap into the source of West Africa.”