Article 20

Protection and Preservation of Ecosystems

Convention Text

Watercourse states shall, individually and, where appropriate, jointly, protect and preserve the ecosystems of international watercourses.

What is an ‘ecosystem’?

An ecosystem is…

- ‘…a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit’ (Article 2, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (adopted 5 June 1992, entered into force 29 December 1992) (1992) 31 International Legal Materials 822)

- ‘a system of plants, animals and micro-organisms together with the non-living components of the environment’ (Experts Group on Environmental Law, Legal Principles and recommendations (WCED 1987))

A water-related ecosystem is…

- ‘ an ecosystem such as a forest, wetlands, grasslands and agricultural land that plays a vital role in the hydrological cycle through the service it provides’ (UNECE, Recommendations on Payments for Ecosystem Services in Integrated Water Resources Management (UNECE 2007), 2)

Video: L Boisson de Chazournes Video: L Boisson de Chazournes Provisions on environmental protection in the UNWC, and their interaction with analogous articles in Multilateral Environmental Agreements
Video: Alistair Rieu-Clarke Video: Alistair Rieu-Clarke Provisions of the UNWC regarding the protection of ecosystems

Download Fact Sheets

Scope of the Convention #2

No Significant Harm Rule

Protection and Preservation of Ecosystems


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