Transboundary Water Management

Equitably and cooperatively, manage the development of, and balance interdependencies between river basins that cross the political boundaries of two or more countries. (Aka Shared waters; TWM)

In many aspects water is among the most shared resources on Earth. Close to 50 per cent of the Earth’s land surface area is comprised of shared river and lake basins. Some 276 river basins cross the political boundaries of two or more countries, and about 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in river and lake basins that cross international borders. Globally, about 2 billion people depend on groundwater, which includes well over 300 transboundary aquifer systems.

Cooperation over shared water resources is essential for climate change adaptation, regional stability and economic growth. It can open new opportunities for riparian states to sustainably develop their common water resources and assist decision-makers and practitioners to reduce conflict, and increase economic development.

Even so, about two-thirds of the world’s transboundary rivers do not have any cooperative management framework.

Goal

Support the effective and equitable allocation and development of water resources, and harmonization of water governance systems by supporting the application of integrated water resources and cooperative river basin management principles to shared (transboundary) water resources.

Some 276 river basins cross the political boundaries of two or more countries, and about 40 per cent of the world’s population lives in river and lake basins that cross international borders. Globally, about 2 billion people depend on groundwater, which includes well over 300 transboundary aquifer systems. These facts represent the basic premise of the transboundary water management challenge facing the international community.

Even though there is no blueprint for how transboundary water cooperation should be done, it is important that:

  • The respective riparian feel an ownership of, and a political commitment to, processes of promoting cooperation,
  • The benefits of water and productive outcomes of water are shared,
  • The respective riparian shifts focus and moves from challenges and constraints to opportunities,
  • Broad partnerships are built for negotiated outcomes among and within riparian countries, and
  • Trust and personal relations are developed among riparian delegations from countries and between domestic water user groups.

While there are some many international water cooperation agreements in place, disagreements and disputes also still occur. It is therefore important that societies set in place domestic, bi- and multilateral mechanisms to support peaceful and effective mediation.

Cooperation over transboundary waters often results in benefits reaching well beyond the water sector.

Regional cooperation on transboundary waters benefits all parties and can open new opportunities for riparian states to sustainably develop water resources.

Goals to provide for sustainable development and improved livelihoods; water, food and energy security; flood and drought prevention; healthy ecosystems and cooperation are also common to most country development agendas and can increase benefits to basin countries.

Cooperation is especially critical in water-scarce regions where the upstream and downstream impacts of consumption and pollution are magnified.

Effective and sustainable global, regional and basin-level legal and institutional frameworks, and effective can also be conducive to stable and reliable cooperation, increasing security for competing uses and preventing conflicts.

SIWI advances equitable and cooperative development in Transboundary Water Management (TWM), both in individual basins and globally, through:

  • Applied research and tools. Critical analysis of new trends and approaches to TWM in regions and develops tools and methods, such as water diplomacy, to unpack the development opportunities in a transboundary water setting.
  • Facilitation of knowledge and experience sharing. Provides a neutral platform to discuss ways forward and serve as a trusted third-party facilitator. Support engagement in transboundary processes with the long-term goal to promote both regional stability and development, and encourage a holistic approach that incorporates relevant sectors.
  • Promoting the formation of management frameworks for transboundary water. By outlining the incentives and benefits of deepening cooperation between parties sharing transboundary waters, promotes the formation of regional management frameworks.
  • Building capacity in partner organizations for them to better deliver on their mandates in. Develops tailored capacity-building programmes built around innovative knowledge and tools, to better equip decision makers, organizations and development partners of transboundary waters to work effectively, thereby also supporting improved cooperation in these basins.

Contact

Mr. Kerry Schneider

Programme Manager
kerry.schneider@siwi.org
Phone: +46 8 121 360 88