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A Water Scarcity Treaty for the Future

Marga Robesin

elni Review 2024, pp. 1-3.

Water scarcity is an increasing global problem, but an international agreement on this issue does not exist. The UN Summit of the Future in September 2024 focuses on achieving existing international goals. The Water Convention and the Watercourses Convention however do not provide sufficient legal basis for mitigating global water scarcity. 
Since international trade is an important cause, water footprint experts suggest measures from a geographic, a production and a consumption perspective. Obligations to set maximum water footprint caps on river basin level and to formulate international reference values for water efficiency (geographical and production measures) can be inserted in the existing conventions. A consumption-oriented target does not fit in their scope. A separate Water Scarcity Treaty, introducing a reduction target of the global average water footprint per capita per year, is needed. The next UN Water Conferences, in 2026 and 2028, offer new opportunities for proposals towards such a treaty.

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