The Second Assessment of Transboundary Rivers, Lakes and Groundwaters is the most comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the status of transboundary waters in the European and Asian parts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region. It has been prepared upon request by the Sixth “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference as an input for the Seventh Ministerial Conference, in September 2011 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The Second Assessment covers more than 140 transboundary rivers, 25 transboundary lakes and about 200 transboundary groundwaters. Such transboundary waters are key for the economic, social and environmental development of their riparian countries. Their basins cover more than 40% of the European and Asian surface of the UNECE region and are home to about 460 million inhabitants — more than 50% of the European and Asian population of UNECE.
Utilizing data and information provided by national Governments and river commissions, maps, graphs and statistical data, the Second Assessment presents a broad analysis of transboundary water resources, pressure factors, quantity and quality status, and transboundary impacts, as well as responses and future trends. It also documents national and transboundary legal and institutional frameworks for water management and cooperation. Recognizing the threats from climate change, the Second Assessment seeks to provide a picture of the expected impacts on transboundary water resources, including the measures planned or in place to adapt to climate change. Finally, a major innovation of the Second Assessment is the specific attention devoted to ecological and biodiversity issues, through the assessment of 25 Ramsar Sites and other wetlands of transboundary importance.
The Second Assessment highlights regional differences, specificities and vulnerabilities. It shows that progress in water management and transboundary cooperation has been achieved by many countries, but also that problems still persist. It aims to inform, guide and spur further action by Governments, river basin organizations and international and non-governmental organizations to improve the status of transboundary waters and related ecosystems.
The Second Assessment is the product of a collective effort by Parties and non-Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, including countries outside the UNECE region, and more than 250 experts were involved in its preparation and contributed data and information among with IGRAC was one of the expert organisations.