SUEN hosted the UNESCO-IHP Sub-regional Workshop on Water Cooperation

A 2-day workshop on Water Cooperation SDG 6 indicators 6.5.1. and 6.5.2 was held in Istanbul on 19-20 February 2019, particularly focusing on sharing experiences with regard to the first reporting cycle of SDG 6.5.2 which is addressing transboundary cooperation, and countries from Mediterranean and Central Asia. UNESCO-IHP Secretariat as one of the custodian agencies for the SDG indicator 6.5.2 was represented by Dr. Alice Aureli (Chief of Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section) and Mr. Aurélien Dumont (Project Officer), Mr. Alberto Hernandez-Salinas (Project Officer) and also Mr. Peter Koefoed Bjørnsen as a representative of UN Environment attended the workshop.


The representatives of Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Spain, Tajikistan and Tunisia attended the workshop and contributed to the discussions around the integrated water resource management approach and transboundary cooperation. They have cited the difficulties of the 1st reporting cycle of SDG indicator 6.5.1 and presented their country results as well as water management practices and transboundary cooperation in their basins.



The results of the first reporting cycle (2017-2018) of the SDG indicator 6.5.2 and the following steps and suggestions on improving the template of the SDG indicator 6.5.2 was discussed in detail during the workshop.


Target 6.5 of SDG 6 requests countries to implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation, as appropriate. Indicator 6.5.2 was adopted to measure progress on transboundary cooperation in accordance with target 6.5. The indicator is defined as the "percentage of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for transboundary cooperation".


Turkish national organizations in charge of water, State Hydraulic Works (DSI), GD for Water Management, Turkish Water Institute (SUEN) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the UNESCO National Committee are following the process of monitoring the SDG indicator 6.5.2 since the beginning of 1st reporting cycle. The Working group from responsible national organizations was established to study the SDG 6.5.2 indicator and give feedback on the reporting methodology and calculation of SDG 6.5.2 indicator which was not sufficient to reflect real transboundary cooperation and only addressing “operational transboundary arrangements” with limited coverage of the world. 


Mr. Akif Özkaldı, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry made an opening speech and underlined the importance of SDG 6 in terms of 2030 Agenda and achievements made to reach integrated water resources management all around the world. He also emphasized that “transboundary cooperation among the riparian countries has some criteria such as timeframe, mutual understanding, political stability, peace environment and economic development.”



Mr. Özkaldı explained Turkey’s point of view on the current methodology of the SDG indicator 6.5.2 as;


“it seems that current calculation methodology of SDG 6.5.2 concept is far from reflecting the cooperation level among the riparian countries in proper manner. Cooperation is a progress and it should be measured in an incremental way, however, current methodology foresees “all-out, one-out principle” and it discourages riparian countries who strive for cooperation with good-will. We consider that the reporting process should have a nature of encouragement and promote the parties to accelerate and move forward the existing cooperation activities. That’s why, we are inviting both UN agencies to evaluate the process on reporting SDG 6.5.2 indicator on an equitable and global approach in order to redesign it to reflect the cooperation level within the transboundary basins in a proper and effective manner.”


Turkey was represented by Dr. Murat Hatipoğlu from DSI as the UNESCO-IHP National focal point, Ms. Elif Okumuş Öksüz from SUEN (focal point for UNECE) and Ms. Simla Yasemin Özkaya from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The presentation on country experiences on the reporting of SDG 6.5.2 was delivered by Prof. Mehmet Ekmekci who attended the workshop as a representative of UNESCO National Committee and Turkey’s proposal to improve the methodology and cover all efforts on transboundary cooperation by indicating the progress of its implementation from low levels to high levels of cooperation, was presented by Ms. Simla Yasemin Özkaya.


The sub-regional workshop on Water Cooperation SDG 6 indicators 65.1. and 6.5.2 is part of a series of thematic and sub-regional workshops dedicated to supporting Member States for the achievement of Agenda 2030. Two workshops have already been organized, in Central Africa and in South America. The workshop was organized by UNESCO with the support of Turkish Water Institute (SUEN) as the hosting organization.



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