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Security Council – Briefing – Maintenance of international Peace and Security – Preventive diplomacy and transboundary waters

Statement delivered by the Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment, Silvia Velo at the Security Council briefing concerning the ‘Maintenance of international Peace and Security – Preventive diplomacy and transboundary waters’—


Señor Presidente,
Agradezco y felicito a la presidencia de Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, por la organización de esta sesión informativa, que contribuye a incrementar la atención sobre los vínculos entre los recursos naturales, el clima y la seguridad.
Mr. President,
As highlighted on the occasion of the first debate in the Security Council on “Water, Peace and Security” last November, water scarcity, together with other megatrends – such as population growth, rapid and chaotic urbanization, food insecurity- can be a multiplier of instability and a driver of migration and conflict. The Secretary General has reminded us of this today and last week in his speech on Climate Action at the Stern School.
Let me highlight that in timely tackling climate change and implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement remains a cornerstone in the cooperation among countries.
At the same time, transboundary water cooperation is a powerful tool for long term prevention of conflicts. This is why we consider today’s briefing especially timely in the light of the renewed focus by the Secretary-General on preventive diplomacy, that Italy fully supports, and of the crucial impact of water issues on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace Agenda where the nexus between peace, security, development and human rights is clearly established.
In this respect, Mr. President, I would like to develop three main points.
First: a global multilateral framework for promoting water cooperation and ensuring the protection and preservation of international watercourses is fundamental and we have the tools to achieve it. The 1997 UN Convention on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses enshrines prevention at its very core.
Allow me to recall also that the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, the first Water Convention finalized by UNECE, was opened last year to all UN Member States becoming another effective tool for transboundary water cooperation worldwide. Italy, as a Party to both these instruments, strongly encourages their ratification and full implementation by Member States as they represent a fundamental platform for the further development of regional frameworks and conventions on water cooperation. The International Fresh Water Treaties Database lists over 400 water agreements: they are the most effective benefits-shared alternative to confrontation.
Second: Europe has a long standing experience in this field. The Central Commission for the Navigation on the Rhine and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River are two of the very first examples of water-related multilateral frameworks in history. Building on this experience, the European Union has always been committed to promoting water cooperation in other regions of the world.
As a third point, I underscore my own country’s engagement in addressing water challenges at both the multilateral and bilateral level.
As a member and host Country of FAO, Italy has actively participated in the establishment of the Global Framework on Water Scarcity, whose goal is to mobilize in a single integrated framework all actors dealing with water scarcity in its social, environmental and economic dimensions, focusing on agriculture and taking into special account the effects of climate change. Furthermore, within the Global Framework, last April we adopted the “Rome Statement on Water Scarcity in Agriculture” that underscores, inter alia, the importance of water governance and promotion of integrated watershed approaches.
At the national level, Italy recently implemented a new strategy for basin management with the aim to promote an integrated approach to water management and soil conservation. Through a shared governance, public and private stakeholders join efforts in improving the maintenance of river basins, fostering local development to create economic opportunity and mitigating hydrological risks. This cooperative approach, in a shared legal framework, is key to preventing water related disputes.
Moreover, Italy increased its 2016 development aid, and doubled this increase in 2017, and will triple it in 2018. We want to ensure that these resources are directed toward achieving the SDGs and that they have an impact on capacity building, including in the sustainable use of natural resources.
Mr. President,
In conclusion, resolution 2349 on the Lake Chad Basin Region “recognized the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes among other factors on the stability of the Region, including through water scarcity ( …) and emphasized the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies by governments and the United Nations relating to these factors.”
We supported and cosponsored this text because we believe in international cooperation, institution building and partnerships. These benchmarks will allow us to achieve not only international water-related development goals, as those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also to tackle root causes of conflict and avoid international confrontation.
Italy remains steadfast in these efforts for prevention and peace building. Water, which has nurtured life and the human family, fostered civilizations and inspired many a creative mind, can also motivate our actions and be an instrument of peace.
Muchas Gracias, Señor Presidente.