International community engagement
International law and conventions
There are no binding international agreements setting out how governments should cooperate in managing transboundary aquifer systems.This reflects the very limited international legal structures for shared waters as a whole. Efforts to build a stronger legal basis include two UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions.The first, passed in July 2010, recognizes ‘the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’ (UNGA 2010: 2) The second, a nonbinding resolution adopted by consensus at the General Assembly in December 2011, seeks to establish a law of Transboundary Aquifers (UNGA 2011). The resolution builds from the International Law Commission Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers (2008), which were formally annexed to the UNGA resolution. The resolution encourages states concerned ‘to make appropriate bilateral or regional arrangements for the proper management of their transboundary aquifers’, including cooperation among states to prevent, reduce and control pollution of shared aquifers. Under this resolution, states are invited to consider the draft articles as a basis for the elaboration of a convention. The Law ofTransboundarv Waters has repeatedly come up for discussion in the General Assembly sixth committee; however, it has not progressed further, with some member states contending that bilateral and regional arrangements and agreements are more appropriate for addressing transboundary aquifer management issues.
Regionally, the body of transboundary aquifer legislation, treaties and other obligations is quite limited. This is not just a developing country phenomenon. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries also generally lack formal treaties on aquifer management. For example, 36 aquifers have been identified as straddling the U.S.-Mexico border, many of which provide drinking water to large local populations. The need for a groundwater treaty between the two countries has been discussed and acknowledged as far back as 1973, through the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC 1973); yet the U.S. and Mexican governments have never signed an agreement or established guidance on how these systems should be managed (Eckstein 2011).
Official financial flows and international support for water and sanitation
International finance in the water and sanitation sector constitutes one of the largest areas of development assistance. Official financial flows in the water and sanitation sector have averaged 5% annual increases over the last decade, reaching US $14.3 billion in 2014-2015. Official development aid during this period was $8.2 billion, 58% of the total. Other official flows have averaged 13% increase per year since 2006—2007, and amount to $6 billion. In total annual aid commitments for all official donors (OECD), Germany (1.67 Sbillion) and Japan (1.1 $billion) are the largest donors in the sector. Low-income countries received 22% of total aid in the sector, closely matching the regional breakdown of 21% going to sub-Saharan Africa.