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Name United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
Logo Image:UNLOGO.gif
Geographic Scope Western Asia
Subject Focus Expertise Social, econonmic and environmental development
Contact E-mail: Submit queries online
URL http://www.escwa.un.org

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Source:UNESCWA website

ESCWA forms part of the United Nations Secretariat and, like the other regional commissions, operates under the supervision of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. ESCWA, first established in 1973, comprises 13 Arab countries in Western Asia: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The objectives of ESCWA are:

  • To support economic and social development in the countries of the region;
  • To promote cooperation between the countries of the region;
  • To encourage interaction between member countries and promote the exchange of experience, best practice and lessons learnt;
  • To achieve regional integration between member countries;
  • To ensure interaction between Western Asia and other regions of the world, familiarizing the outside world with the circumstances and needs of the countries in the region.

UN-ESCWA achieves its objectives through work in the following programmes:

Water and Environmental Issues Team (WET)

The Water and Environmental Issues Team lies within the Sustainable Development and Productivity programme. The Water and Environment Team (WET) at SDPD is concerned with increasing the capabilities of its members on water and environment related issues. To this end, WET implements studies, develops guidelines and organizes expert group meetings and training workshops. These activities strive to increase awareness and alert decision-makers and water professionals, various segments of society, the non-governmental and private sector on the gravity of water and environment issues in the region. The Arab Region suffers from a variety of pressures and deficiencies that endanger the sustainability of its already scarce water resources. The arid climate causes a high level of consumption of naturally scarce water, and rapid population growth, increased economic and social activities, fragmented policies and increasing demand for water in all sectors have contributed to the depletion and pollution of the limited water resources.

ESCWA provides a framework for the formulation and harmonization of sectoral policies for member countries, a platform for congress and coordination, a home for expertise and knowledge, and an information observatory. ESCWA activities are coordinated with the divisions and main offices of the Headquarters of the United Nations, specialized agencies, and international and regional organizations, including the League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In the field of shared water resources, ESCWA is mandated to strengthen cooperation between member countries as per Resolutions 233 and 244 of the 21st and 22nd Ministerial Sessions 2001 and 2003, respectively. In this respect, conflict resolution with respect to shared water resources is among ESCWA's priorities. Despite the fact that sharing water resources is usually considered a source of political tension and conflict, it is recognized that shared river basins and aquifers could generate opportunities for cooperation within and between riparian countries.

Key Resources

See also complete list of WaterWiki-documented UNESCWA-Publications




The Arab Integrated Water Resources Management Network (AWARENET) is a regional network of training and research institutes, NGOs, government authorities and experts in the field of water working on Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The aim of the network is to better provide the public with water and sanitation services, protect precious water resources and the environment, and promote socio-economically constructive uses of water by improving the implementation of IWRM concepts in the countries of the Arab region.

2. FAO on Near East

FAO's information on the status of Water and Agicilture in the Near East region


  • ESCWA Water development report 2:STATE OF WATER RESOURCES IN THE ESCWA REGION (2007) - There is a growing concern among the international community that a pending water crisis is threatening the entire global population, not only those living in arid to semi-arid areas. There is also a consensus on the need to periodically update the information on water resources across the world because of the rapidly changing situation. Hence, the United Nations established the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), with the primary objective of producing a comprehensive analysis on the global water situation in the form of a report published every three years. In this context, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has initiated a series of periodic publications on water development in the ESCWA member countries, the aim being to enhance the application of integrated water resources management (IWRM) concepts in the region, with the explicit objectives to: (a) provide regional water practitioners and decision makers with concise, but comprehensive reports on specific topics related to the sustainable management of available water resources; (b) establish an authoritative basis for managing the available resources; and (c) secure potential input of updated information and data on the ESCWA region to the United Nations WWDR series. The first report in the ESCWA series on water development, published in 2003, addressed the vulnerability of the region to socio-economic drought This Report, the second in the series, focuses on the state of water resources.
  • REGIONAL COOPERATION BETWEEN COUNTRIES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF SHARED WATER RESOURCES: CASE STUDIES OF SOME COUNTRIES IN THE ESCWA REGION (2005) - The problem of water scarcity in the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) region is growing more complex as a result of the region’s continuous increase in population growth and the resulting increase in demand for water. Because most of the ESCWA region is categorized as arid or semiarid, reliance on groundwater resources has become essential to meeting water needs in some member countries. The region is considered one of the most arid in the world, and demand resulting from population increase and economic growth has increased the pressure on water resources. Total water demand is forecast to increase by 50 per cent between 2000 and 2025. Furthermore, the ESCWA region’s share of renewable water resources is the lowest in the world, with available water per capita per annum falling below the water poverty threshold of 1,000 m3 per capita per annum, compared to the worldwide average of 7,243 m3 per capita per annum....
  • ESCWA WATER DEVELOPMENT REPORT 1 VULNERABILITY OF THE REGION TO SOCIO-ECONOMIC DROUGHT (2005) - Of all natural hazards, drought affects the greatest number of people globally, with devastating impact. The vulnerability of communities to drought is dependent on a host of physical, social, environmental and economic characteristics. In recent years, owing to population growth, soil degradation, increased desertification, and projected climate change scenarios, drought research and planning has become crucial to averting and mitigating drought disasters. Drought vulnerability research examines how the impacts of drought are a result of the interactions of social, political and economic systems, as well as the meteorological drought phenomenon....

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