Groundwater data and information exchange in internationally shared aquifers

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UNECE workshop December 2019

UNECE, in collaboration with a number of partners, organised a successful  “Global workshop on exchange of data and information in transboundary basins” in Geneva, 4-5 December 2019. In the workshop, IGRAC was engaged in addressing  experiences and specifics of groundwater data exchange with representatives  of countries and international organisations. There is still insufficient attention to groundwater but awareness and interest to change this is growing.   

The workshop gathered more than 130 representatives from UNECE countries, countries interested in implementation of UNECE convention and many international organisations, in particular River Basin Organisations (RBOs). 

During the first day, IGRAC presented experiences from the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme: groundwater component and river basin component (on behalf of UNEP-DHI). The long-term merits of this unique project were highlighted, including the global baseline on transboundary waters, the multidisciplinary methodology, the information system and  the reinforced international network: participatory approach unlocked groundwater data from national level and triggered cooperation between countries (more than 300 experts from about 130 countries). 

During the second day, the groupwork session discussed specific types or uses of data and information for integrated water resources management in transboundary settings. In the groundwater group, examples of good practices were identified, such as ICPDR (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River) Groundwater Guidance and GEF Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis. UNECE Guidelines on Monitoring and Assessment of Transboundary Groundwaters from 2000 is still valid as a strategic document, however it needs an update on achievements in last 20 years both in the field and in terms of technology. 

The global workshop was followed by a meeting of Working Group on Monitoring and Assessment where IGRAC presented on groundwater guidelines and led a discussion about needs on countries regarding data and information exchange. The main need is for capacity building on groundwater data processing and on information technology (e.g. use of  groundwater apps, information portals, etc.).  The participants were informed about IGRAC capacity building trainings on these topics.