The solution aims at supporting the integration of sustainable groundwater management into the legal and institutional framework of transboundary basin organizations. The institutional reform process will involve, as first step, the review of the legal status of groundwater resources within the institutional frameworks of basin organizations vis-a-vis existing laws and regulations in basin countries, as well as new international legal developments, such as the Draft Articles. The legal review will identify gaps in the legal and institutional structure and support Basin Organizations in mobilizing political and financial support for reform.
Transboudary management, Basin, Groundwater, Senegal river
- The solution aims at supporting the integration of sustainable groundwater management into the legal and institutional framework of transboundary basin organizations. The institutional reform process will involve, as first step, the review of the legal status of groundwater resources within the institutional frameworks of basin organizations vis-a-vis existing laws and regulations in basin countries, as well as new international legal developments, such as the Draft Articles. The legal review will identify gaps in the legal and institutional structure and support Basin Organizations in mobilizing political and financial support for reform.
Pilot project: UNEP has been officially requested by the Senegal River Basin Development Authority, OMVS, to start a project in the Senegal River basin with the objective of enabling OMVS to build functioning governance structures and take informed decisions for the sustainable management of groundwater resources. OMVS will use its extensive network in the Senegal River basin to promote the project and involve all relevant stakeholders.
In particular, the project will focus on the following objectives:
1. To promote and highlight the benefits of a holistic approach to transboundary groundwater management in the Senegal basin;
2. To review the legal and institutional framework under which OMVS operates and support the integration of groundwater sustainable management concerns;
3. To strengthen cross-border cooperation for the sustainable management of transboundary aquifers in the basin;
4. To raise awareness amongst relevant stakeholders on the importance of using groundwater resources in a sustainable way.
Pilot project: Senegal basin (Senegal. Mauritania, and Mali).
- UNEP is developing this solution in cooperation with UNESCO-IHP and the Senegal basin organization, OMVS (pilot basin).
- The detailed project development has been initiated by UNEP and UNESCO-IHP upon request of OMVS. Strategic actors for implementation will be: OMVS officials, OMVS national focal points, government officials from basin countries, and civil society.
- Follow-up should be ensured by OMVS and basin countries (Senegal, Mali and Mauritania). OMVS will support stakeholder participation to the project across the basin. OMVS will use its extensive network in the Senegal River basin to promote the project and involve all relevant stakeholders. Key stakeholders are: government agencies of OMVS member States (ministries of environment/fisheries/water and development or infrastructure and planning), NGOs, and academic and research institutions.
UNEP is currently working on the first phase of the pilot project. The first phase of the project includes a consultative meeting on how to integrate transboundary sustainable management for groundwater resources in the Senegal basin. Under this phase, UNEP will conduct a preliminary study on the institutional framework of OMVS to identify gaps and assess further work to be done. Based on the outcomes of the consultative meeting and the preliminary study, UNEP will draft recommendations and cooperate with OMVS in developing a roadmap on how to promote the sustainable management of groundwater resource across the basin. The preparation of the roadmap will also include the identification of concrete commitments of OMVS with respect to its implementation and possible areas of further collaboration with UNEP.
Recent studies conducted by OMVS and UNESCO on the hydrological status of the Senegal river basin have demonstrated that both surface and groundwater resources have been experiencing rapid degradation. In particular, groundwater quality in the basin is negatively affected by the use of pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals (mercury and cyanide) in agriculture and the mining industry across the basin. Human activities, such as the construction of dams, along with frequent droughts, are also contributing to progressively reduce the capacity of aquifers to recharge.
As in many other river basins in the region, OMVS’s institutional framework is primarily geared towards surface water management and does not fully reflect the interlinkages between surface and groundwater. A coordinated response to this challenge is required to promote a coordinated and holistic management of surface and groundwater that maximizes economic and social welfare without compromising vital ecosystems.
This solution is innovative because it engages basin organizations (BOs) as key actors in reforming environmental governance systems across basins. Through their network and experiences at the local level, BOs are a crucial in supporting the implementation of international law principles, such as those embedded in the ILC Draft Articles, in national and basin-wide water management schemes.
The key outputs of the solution are: OMVS and member states are better informed of new and emerging principles, norms, and management approaches applicable to shared aquifers; a roadmap on how to integrate sustainable transboundary management for groundwater resources in the Senegal basin is developed by OMVS; a more effective and responsive legal and institutional framework for the sustainable management of groundwater resources in the Senegal River basin is developed; national and regional capacity to develop and implement sustainable management of transboundary aquifers is strengthened.
The second phase of the project will address the implementation of the roadmap which will guide the review of the legal and institutional framework of OMVS. This phase will be implemented directly by OMVS, in collaboration with UNEP. Indicators of effective implementations will be: enhanced regulatory regimes for sustainable management of groundwater resources across the basin; and integration of environmental concerns into national water related legislation in basin countries.
Institutional reform in the management of groundwater resources in the Senegal basin will also serve as an example for other basins which may consider implementing similar activities in view of the outcomes and lessons learnt from the pilot project.
UNEP will provide the resources for the Senegal pilot project, in cooperation with OMVS and other relevant partners. Such resources include human resources (2 programme officers), time (6 months), and financial resources (50,000 USD to convene regional workshops).
UNEP has been officially requested by the Senegal basin organization, OMVS, to start the above described project in the Senegal basin. Through its broad network, UNEP is also raising the awareness of other basin organizations of the project and opportunities to carry out similar activities for strengthening the sustainable management of groundwater resources at the basin and national levels.
Arnold Kreilhuber: Legal Officer, Division of Environmental Law & Conventions, UN Environment Programme, Tel: +254 (0) 20 762 24543, e-mail: email@example.com
Lara Ognibene: Associate Legal Officer, Division of Environmental Law & Conventions, UN Environment Programme, Tel: +254 (0) 20 762 23106, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org