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Water protection at international level

The federal government has made transboundary cooperation on the protection of inland waters and seas a major issue of its water policy because the responsibility for water bodies extends beyond the borders of individual countries. The federal government is actively represented in the International Commissions for the Protection of the Oder, Elbe, Rhine, Maas and Danube River and in the HELCOM and OSPAR Commissions.

The United Nations is also involved in water protection issues, since sufficient and clean water resources are a prerequisite for the conservation of ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.

Tackling climate change globally is a priority issue because climate change is happening and affects water cycle processes in all regions of our planet. Reckless deforestation and its consequences - erosion, droughts and flooding - affect water resource as well. Due to urbanisation, intensive agriculture and population growth the pollution of water resources from industrial and communal waste water and the on-going pollution of ground water through nitrates and pesticides are still on the increase in many countries around the world.

In cooperation with the European Commission, United Nations programmes and other institutions, the Federal Environment Ministry organised the first "Water and Climate Day" on 15 August 2007 during the World Water Week in Stockholm.

Armed conflicts also lead to far-reaching water supply problems. Together with other countries the German government participates in UN bodies working towards solving global water protection problems.

In 2001 the federal government organised an International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn and was thus instrumental in 2003 being designated UN International Year of Freshwater.

The federal government also supports initiatives such as the Petersberg Process or the World Water Fora, which are geared towards promoting transboundary water management cooperation in all regions of the world.

During the German EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, Germany particularly advocated EU cooperation with all Danube River and Black Sea rim states.On 23 February, 2007 a conference of all 16 Danube River and Black Sea countries took place in Bucharest.