First International Environment Forum for Basin Organizations Freshwater Governance beyond Rio +20: Meeting the Sustainability Challenge Bangkok, Thailand, 26-28 October 2011

AIDA is partnering with the Government of Thailand, UNEP, UNESCO, UNECE, the ADB, IUCN and others in the organization of the 1st International Environment Forum for Basin Organization, which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 26-28 October, 2011. The objective of the Forum is to create a platform for basin organizations from all around the globe to work together towards strengthening the governance and management of transboundary basins through the adequate consideration and integration of environmental aspects.

The expected outcomes are:
• the establishment of a regular platform for basin organizations to debate and work towards improving the governance and management of transboundary freshwater resources;
• strengthened legal, policy, fi nancial and institutional mechanisms to support basin organizations in meeting environmental challenges for both surface and groundwater resources;
• priority actions to strengthen the ecosystems in transboundary basins applicable to both surface and groundwater resources identifi ed by stakeholders;
• increased political and institutional support to international cooperative frameworks for the sustainable management of transboundary basins;
• contributions by basins organizations to international processes and fora such as the UNFCCC, the Stockholm World Water Week, the World Water Forum and others.

The following themes will be debated:

1. Ecosystems and Biodiversity Conservation: Ecosystems and their services are experiencing rapid and tremendous degradation and loss, posing a variety of threats to the sustainability of both surface and groundwater resources. As human populations swell and economies expand the water needs of the environment are often neglected in water management practices, the result of which has already gravely impacted the aquatic environment. Maintaining and restoring healthy and functioning ecosystems in the basins is increasingly a major contribution by basin organizations
towards achieving sustainable development and in implementing a “greener” path of economic development.

2. Adapting to Climate Change: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it very clear that climate change will have serious impacts on the world’s freshwater resources. Many countries and regions – in particular arid and semi-arid regions of the developing world – are already experiencing the added eff ects of increased unpredictability and magnitude as well as frequency of precipitation-related disasters as a result of climatic changes. The governance and management of transboundary freshwater basins will play a crucial role in responding to climate change. Moreover,
the major challenges to climate change adaptation are anticipated to be within the sphere of both surface and groundwater resources development and management.

3. Environmental Laws and Regulations: International water law has evolved beyond its peoplefocused and commerce-based origins and has expanded to address environmental protection issues. This process is signifi cant for international basin organizations and further embodied in the adoption of a great number of international environmental
agreements and the elaboration of internationally accepted environmental principles. Similarly, an increasing number of countries have taken a “greener” approach to balancing socio-economic development and environmental protection when drafting and reviewing domestic water related laws and regulations applicable to both surface and groundwater resources.

4. Institutional Challenges: The eff ective and sensible governance of the world’s freshwater resources requires strong and adequate policy, legal, financial and institutional mechanisms to deal with the multiple economic, social and environmental
challenges. Existing governance structures are, in most cases, primarily geared towards providing policy, legal and institutional frameworks for satisfying human water demand. Often these frameworks insuffi ciently, if at all, address the particular capacity needs of basin organizations required for the protection and sustainable use of both surface and groundwater resources and their related ecosystem services.

The Conference will bring together key stakeholders in the management of transboundary basins, such as heads of basin organizations and country heads of delegations to basin organizations, UN Agencies and other relevant international institutions, international fi nancial institutions, MEA Secretariats, civil society and academia. The Ministerial segment will gather Ministers of Environment and Water Resources as well as high level civil servants especially involved in basin organizations’ ministerial commissions.

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