Transboundary waters are the lakes and rivers shared by two or more countries. Depleted and degraded transboundary water supplies have the potential to cause social unrest and spark conflict. In an era of increasing water stress, how we manage these critical resources is vital to promoting peaceful cooperation and sustainable development.
The world's 263 transboundary lake and river basins cover nearly half of its land surface. A total of 145 nations include territory within international basins. Dealing with transboundary water resources requires a supranational, integrated approach to management based on legal and institutional frameworks and shared benefits and costs.
Experience shows that in many situations, rather than causing open conflict, taking steps towards water sharing can generate unexpected cooperation in ecological management. But there is still a need for workable monitoring provisions, enforcement mechanisms, and specific water allocation measures that address changes in water flow and evolving needs.