International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Collaborative workshop for identifying and prioritising transboundary problems

Length of workshop:

Approximately 3 hours + of the first TDA Development Workshop


Plenary with the full TDA Development Team


To reach a consensus between the TDA Development Team of the priority transboundary problems affecting the water system.

The Task:

  1. With the aid of a good facilitator, the TDA Development Team is encouraged to brainstorm a complete list of the transboundary problems for the water system. The facilitator should prompt and write ALL answers on a flip chart or white board.
  2. Once a list has been created, encourage the team to focus in on the real transboundary environmental problems (many in the list are likely to be governance causes or impacts).
  3. In addition, identify the geographical scale of each problem and how strongly transboundary the problems are – a number of problems are likely to be shared rather than transboundary.
  4. Finally get the team members to prioritise the problems based on a set of easily understandable criteria using printed score sheets. Each team member should score the transboundary problems individually.

Transboundary Problem Prioritisation Criteria:

Examples of prioritisation criteria are shown below. This list is not prescriptive – types of criteria will be dependent on the transboundary system being studied.

  1. Transboundary nature of a problem – geographical and temporal scale.
  2. Future risk of the problem.
  3. Relationship with other transboundary problems.
  4. Expected multiple benefits that might be achieved by addressing a problem.
  5. Lack of perceived progress in addressing/solving a problem at the national level.
  6. Recognised multi-country water conflicts.
  7. Reversibility/irreversibility of the problem

Based on a set of defined criteria, assign a score to each transboundary problem between 0 (no importance), 1 (low importance, 2 (moderate importance) and 3 (high importance) to determine the relevance of the problem from the perspective of the present day and a pre-defined point in the future (e.g. 25 years) based on a business as usual scenario.

Report Back and Discussion:

Summarise the results in a spreadsheet and present to the team for discussion. Conduct a critical discussion on the outputs and ensure all comments are captured by a rapporteur.


  • List of transboundary problems, complete with information on geographical scale
  • Agreed set of Transboundary Problem Prioritisation Criteria
  • Detailed list of prioritised transboundary problems with scoring data
  • Annotated list of comments from TDA Development Team