International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security

Massive Open Online Course
Freshwater scarcity, stress and crisis is increasing in most regions. Approximately 80% of the world’s population is already exposed to high levels of threat to water security, and approximately 1.2 billion people live in river basins where human water use has surpassed sustainable limits. These pressures will disproportionally affect the world’s poor, particularly women, who are often responsible for the health and welfare of children, the elderly, and the infirm. Pollution accelerates the water crisis by further reducing the water available for human use, as well as impacting aquatic life in rivers, lakes, aquifers and eventually in our oceans.

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Transboundary basins account for roughly 60% of global freshwater resources, serving 2.8 billion people, or 42% of the global population. Of 192 countries, 153 share transboundary water resources. These include 310 shared rivers and lakes, and 592 transboundary aquifers. As water bodies cross political jurisdictions, it becomes increasingly challenging to identify commonly accepted solutions to satisfy competing uses. Therefore, cooperative transboundary solutions are crucial to obtain outcomes that are in the best interest of people and ecosystems. Governance of transboundary waters requires cooperation among stakeholders across sectors and states.

The unique mandate of GEFs International Waters (GEF IW) Focal area to support transboundary cooperation in shared marine and freshwater ecosystems has proven successful in achieving long term benefits. Complex shared and transboundary water ecosystems cut across a myriad of sectoral needs and themes while not being bound by political boundaries. Consequently, setting effective policy goals, coupled with investments, requires working at all scales, with a range of stakeholders, in the public and private sectors and across the watershed from source-to-sea and beyond.

In order to meet these challenges head on, the new GEF-7 Programming Directions provide the strategic framework for the next cycle of the GEF investments (2018-2022) and guidance to existing projects under implementation on crucial areas of capacity development. One of the key objectives under the strategy focuses on enhancing water security in freshwater ecosystems. GEF support will focus on interventions in shared basins where water stress creates a challenge but also can be a driver and opportunity for cooperation. GEF interventions will prioritize preventative actions in transboundary basins facing multiple stressors and hence potential for conflict on national and regional levels. Investment in cooperation among countries in shared basins can be one avenue to increase interaction among countries and enhance trade and transport of goods and services. These investments can, consequently, create common interests and provide an entry point for regional integration and peaceful country relations.

To support this objective and prepare the focal area and others to take action, GEF IW:LEARN is driving the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security. Coordinated by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and with contributions from leading organisations, the course will take a nuanced approach by looking at transboundary governance, as it relates to law; negotiations; management; geographical and biophysical constraints; and sustainable financing mechanisms.

What you will learn

Week 1: Introduction to the MOOC and Water Security

The objectives of the first week are to (a) introduce participants to the structure of the overall course, and how it will work, and (b) to introduce the topic of water security and transboundary water governance.

Week 2: International Water Law

Week 2 will introduce the basic concepts in International Water Law, including: substantive and procedural norms; regional and global agreements; principles of notification; dispute resolution; and an introduction to the role of institutions.

Week 3: Water Diplomacy and Negotiation Skills

Now that participants understand the importance of cooperating at the transboundary level, and the legal instruments available, they will learn about “water diplomacy,” theory and techniques for negotiation in week 3.

Week 4: Institutions

In week 4, participants will understand the role of institutions in transboundary freshwater security. The module will illustrate different types of institutions and how they work in the transboundary water governance context.

Week 5: Management Tools and Mechanisms

Week 5 marks a shift from transboundary governance theory, law and negotiation, to tools for transboundary water management in practice. Practical tools for transboundary water governance will be introduced such as multi-stakeholder processes, TDA/SAP, conjunctive management of surface and ground water, and the concept of Source to Sea will be discussed.

Week 6: Finance for Transboundary Water Security

In week 6 participants will learn what available financing mechanisms are currently available, how to articulate economic incentives for TBWM, and how to attract financing. This will cover practical topics including how to finance a river basin institution and private sector engagement. 

How do I sign up to take the course?

The GEF IW:LEARN Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security Massive Open Online Course will be launched at the beginning of 2020. To receive an email notification alert when the course is active, please click on this link to fill out the sign up form