Finland has long been active in the UN and other international contexts to promote water safety, frontier river cooperation and good management of water resources. In 1970 Finland initiated the preparation of the UN Watercourses Convention at the UN General Assembly. This so-called New York Convention was adopted in 1997 and it came into force in 2014. Finland is also an active party to the UNECE Water Convention (Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes; Helsinki Convention), adopted in 1992.
Finland has bilateral agreements concerning transboundary waters with Sweden, Russia and Norway. To support transboundary water cooperation, Transboundary Water Commissions have been established as forums for collaboration. The commissions have different duties, depending on the agreement between Finland and the neighbouring country in question. A separate agreement has been concluded between Finland and Russia on the Discharge Rule of Lake of the Saimaa and the River Vuoksi. Finland has also concluded an agreement concerning the regulation of Lake Inarijärvi with Russia and Norway.
A key objective in Finland’s international water policy is to promote water security. At the international level, Finland also wants to promote sustainable use of water resources and the management of risks, emphasising the importance of international water law, water agreements and collaboration concerning transboundary waters. Finland has ratified the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (known as Helsinki Conbention) and the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (known as The New York Convention)
New UN Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015. Water plays a key role in promoting sustainable development because it is vital to maintaining ecosystems, food production, health and safety.