Defining “Effective” Transboundary Water Cooperation: A Preliminary Look

Authors: Melissa McCracken*, Oregon State University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: transboundary river basin, shared water, transboundary aquifer, cooperation, effective
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is an increasing focus on the international politics and security surrounding internationally shared waters. This is exemplified through the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Framework and, particularly, SDG Indicator 6.5.2, which measures and tracks operational cooperation over transboundary waters – both surface and groundwater. Furthermore, the global literature on transboundary waters does not have a single accepted definition of transboundary water cooperation and complications can arise when the multiple understandings are operationalized. For example, cooperative efforts over shared waters can take many forms; place matters in the development and continuation of cooperation between riparians. Climate, hydrology, socio-political environments, and particularly political-will play a role in the establishment and persistence of cooperation. The goals and outcomes of transboundary water cooperation can change depending on the definition and understanding of cooperation. One overall aim is that cooperation should be effective, but our understanding of effective cooperation is more variable than the definition of transboundary water cooperation. This presentation presents a preliminary discussion of ongoing research into the multiple understandings of transboundary water cooperation, how these can impact the structure of cooperative processes, and what a framework for effective cooperation could look like.

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