Protocol on Water and Health

a women is drinking a glass of waterClick to enlarge
The protocol is a legally-binding instrument on water and health in the UNECE region.
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The main aim of the Protocol is to protect public health from water-related diseases.

The main aim of the Protocol on Water and Health is to protect public health from water-related diseases in the UNECE region. The UNECE region covers the countries of the geographic area of Europe, as well as all succession states of the former Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes was adopted in 1999 and entered into force in 2005. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide the joint secretariat for the Protocol.

It is the first international, legally-binding instrument on water and health. Parties to the Protocol Parties are required to establish national targets to achieve or maintain a high level of protection from water-related diseases. Thematic areas in which targets can be set include for example improving drinking-water supply and sanitation, water resources management, water quality, as well as bathing water quality. Germany has been a Party to the Protocol since 2007, and has set and submitted initial national targets in 2011 and updated national targets in 2021.

All Parties need to cooperate in the implementation of the Protocol. Germany is, particularly through UBA, involved in the Protocol bodies, and supports those states that still have larger deficits in drinking-water supply and sanitation as well as water resource protection.

The Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol adopted a workplan for 2020-2022 at its fifth meeting in Belgrad in November 2019. With this workplan, Parties stipulate which joint activities they want to conduct in order to achieve the goals of the Protocol. Germany, together with Serbia, co-leads the activity on small-scale water supplies and sanitation under the current workplan. Comprehensive data on small-scale water supplies in the countries of the European Region was collected for the first time as part of this activity under the lead of the WHO Collaborating Centre at UBA, and published in the document Status of small-scale water supplies in the WHO European Region: results of a survey conducted under the Protocol on Water and Health. An international group of experts developed the guidance Taking policy action to improve small-scale water supply and sanitation systems. Tools and good practices from the pan-European Region with recommendations for improving the situation of small-scale water supplies and decentralized sanitation. To support policy makers in developing strategies for sustainable financing of small systems, the guidance Costing and financing of small-scale water supply and sanitation services was developed. Pilot projects on the application of the Water Safety Plan-approach (WSP) in small-scale water supplies are conducted. A workshop on WSP in the EECCA region and a meeting of the International Small Community Water Supply Network took place in July 2014 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In 2011, WHO and UNECE published the document Small-scale Water Supplies in the pan-European Region which was developed under UBA authorship. The document aims at raising awareness of decision-makers regarding the particular challenges that small-scale water supplies face.