Frequently Asked Questions

You will find in this section answers to frequently asked questions on the theme of Water Cooperation, as well as some quick links and answers to other practical questions you may have to get involved in the International Year of Water Cooperation or the World Water Day.

What are the goals of the International Year of Water Cooperation?

The International Year and the World Water Day 2013 aim to encourage and nurture water cooperation to:

  • Raise awareness on the importance, benefits and challenges of water cooperation;
  • Enhance knowledge and develop capacity for water cooperation;
  • Spark concrete and innovative action towards water cooperation;
  • Foster partnerships, dialogue and cooperation around water as a top priority, during and beyond 2013;
  • Strengthen international cooperation among institutions, users, social and economic sectors and others in order to reach a consensus on Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era which will effectively address our future water needs. 

What does water cooperation entail exactly?

Every action involving water management requires effective cooperation between multiple actors whether at the local or international scale. Building a village water pump in sub-Saharan Africa requires local actors to cooperate. Bringing water from a river to irrigate farmland requires regional cooperation.

Rivers cross political boundaries and international cooperation is necessary to share the water resources of a transboundary river basin between upstream and downstream users with different and sometimes conflicting needs, claims and cultures. The same is true for transboundary groundwater, an important and increasing source of freshwater.

Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. Demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses and the environment. Cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and to share water equitably in a mutually beneficial way.

If any of the people involved in water management do not cooperate, the ‘cooperation chain’ is broken and water resources will not be managed in the most effective way, with adverse effects on human lives and the economy.

Water connects us all, and we are all part of this cooperation chain. Water cooperation between different social groups, economic sectors, regional governments, countries, and present and future generations, is crucial not only to ensure the sustainable and equitable use of water but also to create and maintain peaceful relations between people.

Why is water cooperation important?

Water cooperation is essential to share water equitably, thereby fostering peace and sustainable development.

  • Water cooperation builds peace

Access to water can be a source of a conflict, but it is also a catalyst for cooperation 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, communities, regions or states.

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

Access to clean water is the foundation for the fulfillment of basic human needs and contributes to the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals. Inclusive and participatory governance of water and cooperation between different user groups can help to overcome inequity in access to water, enhance water security and overcome water scarcity and thus contribute to poverty eradication and to improving living conditions and educational opportunities, especially for women and children.

  • Water cooperation creates economic benefits

All economic activities depend on water. Cooperation can lead to a more efficient and sustainable use of water resources, including through joint management plans creating mutual benefits and better living standards.

  • Water cooperation is crucial to preserve water resources and protect the environment

Water cooperation supports the sharing of knowledge about the scientific aspects of water including data and information exchange, management strategies and best practices and knowledge about the role of water in preserving ecosystems, fundamental to human wellbeing and sustainable development.

Every action involving water management requires effective cooperation between multiple actors whether at the local or international scale. If any of the people involved in water management do not cooperate, the ‘cooperation chain’ is broken and water resources will not be managed in the most effective way, with adverse effects on human lives and the economy.

What are the challenges to water cooperation?

  • Reaching across borders

Water cooperation entails reaching across borders. Not only national boundaries, but also across institutional lines, disciplines, sectors, and levels. Today’s water managers and decision makers must consult with a broader range of stakeholders, publics, and NGOs – locally, regionally, and often internationally. And, they must do all this while operating in a world of increasing demands on water. In many instances the mechanisms are not in place and various types of stakeholders need to learn to work together. This also entails the need for an improved mutual understanding of the stakeholders’ respective points of view, cultures and languages in order to benefit from diversity. 

  • Increased competition for water

Demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses. Additional pressure related to rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change also threatens the resource. Increased competition for water could create situations of potential conflict. But history and experience have shown that cooperation is mutually beneficial: when water resources are cooperatively shared and managed, peace, prosperity and sustainable development are more likely to be achieved.  This entails taking into account the various users’ respective needs, points of view, cultures and languages in order to allocate water equitably.

What are concrete examples of water cooperation?

Please see our section on examples of water cooperation.

Who is leading the International Year of Water Cooperation?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was appointed by UN-Water to lead the preparations for both the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the World Water Day, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).

UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation in view of the organization’s multi-dimensional mandate in the realm of natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, and its significant and long-standing contribution to the management of the world’s freshwater resources.

What about World Water Day 2013?

In 2013 the theme of the World Water Day is Water Cooperation, in reflection of the declaration of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was appointed by UN-Water to lead the preparations for both the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation and the World Water Day, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).

UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation in view of the organization’s multi-dimensional mandate in the realm of natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, and its significant and long-standing contribution to the management of the world’s freshwater resources.

What can I do for the International Year of Water Cooperation and World Water day 2013?

There are infinite ways to be involved in the campaign. We have compiled a short advocacy guide to offer ideas, pieces of advice and links to useful resources to help you plan your advocacy campaign and make your voice heard. But please be creative, innovate: these are just a few of the things you can do! 

Download the Advocacy Guide >>
Visit the Get Involved section >>

How can I use the logo? Does the logo exist in my language?

The logo is available in over 30 languages to download and use for materials, events and activities that are in relation with the Water Cooperation 2013 and its theme. The logo can't be used for commercial purposes. Please refer to the Logo Guidelines for more information.

We rely on contributions from the public in the continued development of the campaign. This includes non-official translations of the logo and other material. If you have any comments on logo translations, please direct them to our facebook page and we will address any issues as soon as we can.

A Logo Builder also offers the possibility for you to generate your own logo by chosing colors, patterns, the stream of water and your language.

How do I list an event? How do I find events in my area?

You can submit events by compiling our online form. Once validated by us, your event will appear on our world map of events and in the events list.

If you are looking for a specific event, you can check on the map or run a search through the global list of events.