2013: International Year of Water Cooperation


“Water, water everywhere, only if we share”

The UN General Assembly has declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation. The objective is to highlight the benefits of cooperation on water management in a world where pressures on freshwater resources are intensifying.

Working on wide-ranging initiatives related to freshwater, UNDP and its partners are actively supporting the Year.

Water is a vital resource for life and knows no boundaries.  Access to clean water is the foundation for the fulfillment of basic human needs and for achieving most, if not all, of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Year will serve to highlight successful examples of water cooperation and explore key issues including water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financial cooperation, legal frameworks and the MDGs. 

Water cooperation is key to poverty eradication, social equity and gender equality

Inclusive and participatory governance of water and cooperation between different user groups can help to overcome inequity in access to water. Improving access to water for drinking, hygiene and productive uses contributes to poverty eradication and to improving living conditions and educational opportunities, especially for women and children.

Water cooperation creates economic benefits

Most economic activities depend on water, either directly or indirectly. Economic returns on investing in access to water and sanitation are typically 8:1 or higher. Cooperation can lead to more efficient and sustainable use of water resources, including through joint management plans creating mutual benefits and better living standards.

Water cooperation prevents conflicts and builds peace

Access to water can be a source of a conflict, but it is also a tool for crisis prevention and peace building. Cooperation on such a practical and vital issue as water management can help overcome cultural, political and social tensions, and can build trust between different groups, regions or states.

UNDP’s work around the world includes facilitating access to clean water and enhancing national and transboundary cooperation on water resources management, thus contributing to the achievement of the MDGs and other international targets.

Our stories

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Marshall Islands: Protecting drinking water from drought and sea level rise

By the time the Government declared a state of emergency in 2013, the wells had long run dry in the drought-stricken northern reaches of the Marshall Islands, and families had started fleeing to the capital Majuro. This idyllic paradise is set so low in the ocean that there are few freshwater reservmore

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Panama: Islanders integrate biodiversity conservation

Residents of the Pearl Islands and other archipelagoes in the Gulf of Panama always got everything from the sea. But, according to the islanders, fish population has been steadily declining, and so have jobs. Andrés Ramirez, a boat captain who services commuters between the islands, faces a diminismore

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Ghana: New wells bring peace

Instead of going to school, Fatimata Seidu, a 12-year-old girl from Changli in northern Ghana, used to spend long hours fetching water for her family. With only one deep well for a community of 10,500 inhabitants, heated disputes over water sent many children, including Fatimata, on long treks in semore

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Rain water harvesting improves lives of Tanzanian farmers

In recent years, residents of Tanzania's Kilimanjaro region have seen their livelihoods threatened by climate change-induced water shortages. The Kilimanjaro region has always been one of the driest in Tanzania, receiving less than 400 mm of rainfall annually. The average annual rainfall for the coumore

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Restored canal gives Cambodian farmers much-needed boost

Farmer Tous Sok Heang carefully jots down the number on the scale each time a sack of rice is weighed, and a rice buyer does the same. When the last sack is lifted from the scale, the buyer hands her a down payment of US $200, promising to pay the rest later. “We are rich today,” Tous Sok Heang jokmore