Background information

1. The Second Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol takes place on 23–25 November 2010 in Bucharest, Romania and is hosted by the Ministry of Environment. Romania has served as the Protocol’s Chair for the last four years, and Norway will take over this role during the Meeting.

2. The Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is the world’s first international legally binding agreement to protect human health and well-being through better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems and the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases.

3. The Protocol was adopted in 1999 and signed by 36 countries at the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health. It entered into force in 2005 and has 24 Parties and 14 Signatories. The Protocol has a secretariat provided jointly by UNECE and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

4. The 24 Parties (ratifying countries) are: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine. The additional 14 Signatories are Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

5. The WHO European Region comprises 53 countries, while UNECE serves 56 countries within and outside the European Union, in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in North America.

6. The WHO system for surveillance of communicable diseases covers water-related diseases, including campylobacteriosis,viral hepatitis A, giardiasis, Shigella bloody diarrhoea, enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli infection, legionellosis and cholera.

For questions about the data contained in the report, please contact:

Mr Roger Aertgeerts
Programme Manager, Water and Sanitation
WHO Regional Office for Europe, Rome Office
Tel.: +39 06 4877 528

Ms Francesca Bernardini
Environmental Affairs Officer
Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Tel.: +41 229172463

For further information and interview requests, please contact:

Ms Cristiana Salvi
Technical Officer, Communication
WHO Regional Office for Europe, Rome Office
Tel.: +39 06 4877 543, +393480192305 (mobile)

Mr Jean Rodriguez
Senior Public Information Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Tel.: +41 (0)22 917 2727