International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security

Massive Online Course (open)

The course is available at:


Freshwater scarcity, stress, and crisis are increasing worldwide. More than a billion people live in water-scarce regions, and 3.5 billion people could experience water scarcity by 2025. These pressures disproportionally affect vulnerable and marginalized people, including those living in poverty. Rising pollution levels accelerate the crisis by reducing water availability for human use and impacting aquatic life in rivers, lakes, aquifers, and oceans.

Transboundary basins account for roughly 60% of freshwater resources, serving 2.8 billion people, or 42% of the world’s population. Complex shared transboundary freshwater and ecosystems cut across a myriad of sectoral needs, themes, and political boundaries. Setting effective policy goals, coupled with investments, means working at multiple scales with a range of public and private stakeholders throughout the watershed, from source to sea and beyond.

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) presents multiple facets of governance for transboundary freshwater security – from financing mechanisms to negotiation skills – while emphasizing the urgency of sustainable development and cooperation at many levels. It extends from basic building blocks and concepts to advanced thinking about transboundary governance, and applies theory to practice through examples and case studies. Topics covered in six modules range from the fundamentals of transboundary water security to international water law, water diplomacy, negotiations, institutions, management tools, and sustainable finance. 

This MOOC was produced and financed by the Global Water Partnership and GEF IW:LEARN. Over 80 water professionals from around the world brought their experiences to lectures and case studies. Modules are coordinated by United Nations University, Northumbria University, Stockholm International Water Institute, IHE-Delft, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and the Global Water Partnership.

What you will learn

  • Basic understanding of transboundary freshwater security
  • Fundamentals of transboundary water cooperation
  • Concepts, roles, and functions of different tracks of water diplomacy
  • Key approaches to negotiation, including inter-personal skills and techniques
  • Principles of international water law
  • Case studies of international water law in application
  • Transboundary water institutions’ roles, functions, establishment processes, and success factors
  • Management tools on transboundary water: including decision support tools, transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA), and strategic action programme (SAP)
  • Conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater
  • The source-to-sea approach in a transboundary water context
  • Stakeholder participation approaches and tools
  • Various options for financing transboundary water cooperation

How do I take the course?

The course is hosted by the SDG Academy. The course began on 31 August 2020 and is open for registration. It is available to everyone and all video lectures and case studies are translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.

Please follow this link to the course page. New online sessions are being organized so make sure to check our events page to know more.