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The Bank Policy And Transboundary Groundwater

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Chapter Summary

The Helsinki Rules define a drainage basin to include both "surface and underground waters, flowing into a common terminus." It should be clarified that this definition includes only aquifers that are connected to surface water. In line with the ILA Helsinki Rules, the ILC defined the term "watercourse" in Article 2(a) of the draft UN Watercourses Convention, to consist of "a system of surface waters and groundwaters constituting by virtue of their physical relationship a unitary whole and normally flowing into a common terminus." Recognition of transboundary groundwater in bilateral and multi-lateral treaties evolved slowly before the 1990s, but accelerated considerably thereafter. The 1980 Convention Creating the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) is one of the early instruments where the interconnections between surface and groundwater were recognized. The Bank policy for projects on international waterways refers explicitly to surface waters and semi-enclosed coastal waters only.

Keywords: bank policy; ILA; ILC; Niger Basin Authority (NBA); transboundary groundwater; UN Watercourses Convention



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