International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Transboundary Basin Commission Exchange

Twinning exchange to share best practices in developing and operating a transboundary basin commission. Transboundary Basin Commission Exchange (5-7 December, 2012)


  • Mr. Batbold Jamsran - Mongolian BBIWRM project national coordinator, State Secretary Ministry of Environment and Green Development of Mongolia
  • Mr. Munkhbat Dorjgotov - Specialist in charge of Transboundary water Issues, Ministry of Environment and Green Development of Mongolia


  • International Sava River Basin Commission


The “Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem”  project’s objective is to spearhead integrated natural resource management of Baikal Lake Basin and Hovsgol Lake ensuring ecosystem resilience, reduced water quality threats in the context of sustainable economic development. The project has three primary components: elaborating a strategic policy and planning framework; strengthening institutional capacity for IWRM; and demonstrating water quality and biodiversity mainstreaming practice, including groundwater monitoring and protection.

This project builds upon a solid, decades-old baseline of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Mongolia on the transboundary waters of the Selenga River and by extension the Baikal Basin itself. To date, international support for environmental conservation and management in the Baikal Basin has not been transboundary in orientation; little support has been provided the two countries in strengthening their transboundary cooperation to manage sustainably the globally significant environmental benefits represented by the incomparable Lake Baikal and its transboundary Basin, at the top of which lies Mongolia’s aquatic jewel, Lake Hovsgol. In addition to this solid baseline of transboundary cooperation are two rapidly growing economic baselines in mining and tourism, with mining being the biggest and fastest growing economic activity in the Baikal Basin and tourism a smaller but also rapidly growing sector in both the Russian and Mongolian portions of the Baikal Basin. Both of these sectors hold much promise in becoming better stewards of the Baikal Basin’s aquatic ecosystems. In the absence of a GEF investment, these barriers are likely to continue hampering an effective transboundary response to the critical threats that are already impacting the ecosystem health and resilience of the Baikal Basin.

Successful implementation of a regional project like “Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem”, to a large degree depends on effective implementation and ownership of project-inspired work at the national and local levels.

Lake Baikal and its transboundary basin including Lake Hovsgol represent an unparalleled global benefit in terms of international waters and biodiversity values. While past and current efforts to protect and sustainably utilize the environment and its natural resources are impressive, they are insufficient to the task of addressing the threats to the health of the Baikal Basin’s interconnected aquatic ecosystems. These threats include: climate change, pollution and sedimentation, nutrient loading, and habitat destruction.

None of the existing bodies set up at bilateral and national levels (the Joint Task Force, and the Baikal Commission in Russia) have the authority, budget and cooperative framework necessary to reduce threats / barriers to water quality and biodiversity objectives.

Capacity building will occur at the transboundary, national and local levels in support of Russian and Mongolian efforts to establish effective structures and mechanisms for protecting water resources and biodiversity through integrated basin management. The Joint Commission for the Baikal Basin will be established and capacitated. One inter-ministerial committee will be set up each in Russia and in Mongolia, tasked with managing the decision-making processes for approval and implementation of integrated sub-basin watershed management plans.

Currently, cooperation between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Mongolia on the Selenga River and Lake Baikal is governed by the “Agreement on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Waters” (Ulan-Bator, 11.02.1995).The agreement established a Joint Task Force, chaired at the Minister-level, to facilitate co-operation to protect the Selenga river.

The Project will assist the two countries to enhance the activities and responsibilities of the Joint Task Force through the formation of a new Joint Commission, with expanded participation by other relevant sectors and by civil society. The Join Commission is envisioned as a policy-setting organization, with nationally-appointed natural resource officials from the Russian Federation and Mongolia. In support of this body, a Science Advisory Group (SAG) will be created to assist the Joint Commission by providing recommendations in support of the ongoing implementation of the SAP. The Joint Commission will meet on a regular basis and among its duties will oversee negotiations on the TDA & SAP. The PMU will back up the Joint Commission with technical and financial support for regular meetings, to facilitate the contributions of the Science Advisory Group; to aid the Joint Commission review process for TDA and SAP approvals and to provide technical advice to the Joint Commission’s efforts in drafting a new transboundary treaty. Project resources will assist more frequent working meetings of Joint Commission members related to TDA and SAP review and approval.


Study and review of the current structure, capacity and activities of Sava River Basin Commission to enhance and capacitate the activities and responsibilities of the Russian-Mongolian Joint Task Force through the formation or of a Joint Commission using existing structures or creating new depending on country's needs, with expanded participation by other relevant sectors and by civil society. Specifically:

  • Present the current status of legal and institutional framework.
  • Study mechanisms and agreements of transboundary cooperation.
  • Familiarize the Secretariat structure and members.


1.Outcome: to enhance institutional capacity for Integrated Water Recourse Management (INRM) in Baikal Basin (BB). Decision makers from Mongolia are to learn from the top experts and members of Sava River Basin Commission.


  • A Sava River Basin Commission presentation workshop was organized;
  • A meeting with Secretary was held;
  • Transboundary mechanisms and agreements has been reviewed and provided;

3.Outputs beneficial to IW portfolio: Lesson learned in the Baikal Basin INRW project can be made available for other GEF IW INRW projects

4.IW Experience Note: An experience note on institutional strengthening for IWRM will be produced.


There is a strong potential for continued interchange or cooperation between the Russian Federation and Mongolia government after the GEF IW:LEARN-supported exchange has been completed in the strengthening institutional capacity for IWRM in Baikal Basin. Using knowledge getting from this exchange decision making people from both countries will deliver the following results:

  • ascertain existing gaps and inadequacies in the legal and institutional framework of transboundary cooperation between the Russian Federation and Mongolia and its implementation;
  • identify possible options in enhancing the extant legal and institutional framework and mechanisms of transboundary cooperation including, if necessary, new institutional arrangements (such as a Joint bilateral Commission);
  • Finally the road map for the process of developing and enhancing the legal and institutional framework of bilateral transboundary water cooperation between the Russian Federation and Mongolia will be developed.
Related content
FileProject Inception Report-Integrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem
FileIntegrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem
FileIntegrated Natural Resource Management in the Baikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem Project Review by Dr. Sergery Kudelya
FileProject identification form- Integrated natural resource management in the Baikal Basin transboundary ecosystem
FileLake Baikal Basin Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) - English Version
FileLake Baikal: Experience and Lessons Learned Brief