|South America is the richest hydrological region in the world, and the continent’s transboundary basins are vital to its population; in all of the region’s states, international basins cover at least half of the country’s territory and a large majority is dependent on the water resources of the region’s transboundary watercourses.
Yet despite the contribution that basin- and region-wide cooperation agreements could make to water governance structures in South America, no country in the Americas has as yet ratified the UN Watercourses Convention (UNWC).
The Amazon is the second biggest river in the world. It runs through three countries, although over sixty percent of its basin lies in Brazil. The river’s tributaries flow through four additional countries. It has grown under increasing pressure from human activities, creating tensions between riparian states and raising alarm among indigenous and environmental groups.
Although the Amazon Basin is one of the most important in the world, its governance structure lack comprehensiveness and robustness. As a result, sustainable water management and conflict prevention are not assured. A basin-wide cooperation treaty, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT), does exist, but it refers mostly to navigation and contains many gaps and weaknesses.
The UNWC’s entry into force could have vast potential benefits for the Amazon Basin states:
The UNWC has the potential to strengthen cooperation between basin states and mitigate future conflicts. Efforts must thus be continued to encourage ratification of the UNWC by ACT state parties.