International Forum on Integrated Water Management: "Tools for Action!", Québec City/Canada

Forum // International Forum on Integrated Water Management: "Tools for Action!", Québec City/Canada

The third edition of the International Forum wants to contribute to a better management of transboundary waters resources whether they are surface waters or groundwaters.

The International Forum aims to promote knowledge-sharing and best-practices exchanges in the field of transboundary waters management. Special attention will be paid to the presentation and sharing of tools facilitating action. To facilitate this knowledge-sharing and know-how exchanges, the International Forum will be organized around three principal themes (see here-after). Several case-studies will be also showcased. Among other things, the success of the International Forum rely on the quality of communications that will be given. Thus we count on your participation!

The management of transboundary waters is an ancient preoccupation as one believes it was the object of the first-ever international agreement, signed 2500 years B.C. between Sumerian City-states of Lagash and Umma.

Today, almost 40% of the world population lives within a river basin shared between at least two countries (and up to 19 for the Nile). 148 countries holds a territory covering all or part of one or more of the 276 transboundary river basins. The later represent 50% of the globe's (terrestrial) surface as well as 60% of the world surface running water. We also count over 300 international aquifers which supply close to 2 billions people.

Moreover, in order to contribute the international reflection on that area, the organizers of the International Forum want to broaden the definition of a boundary to all limits between two or more territories presenting different characteristics and particularly subnational entities (e.g. Provinces or federated States).

Transboundary waters whether they are surface waters or groundwaters represent a natural resource of social, economic and environmental indisputable importance. It is also an intrinsically shared resource as the large majority of water flows freely across borders. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations assed that over 3600 agreements related to the management of transboundary waters have been signed over the last 12 centuries. In general, populations and their governments know that cooperation in the field of transboundary waters management is not only imperative but also broadly beneficial. The Programme of Water Conflict Management and Transformation of the Oregon State University analyzed (2011) all international interactions about water issues between 1948 and 2008 and demonstrated that cooperation was far more common than conflicts.

However despite the huge potential of collaboration on transboundary waters the World Water Council noticed (2008) that 158 transboundary river basins did not benefit from any framework of international management. Thus, it is necessary to strengthen our collective capacity to manage, through participative and inclusive processes, the transboundary waters resources and their associated ecosystems. In this regards, new management tools (diagnostic, planing, agreements, ecological goods and services…) could prove to be efficient. Transboundary cooperation also allows a more integrated management of domestic (drinking water, sanitation…), environmental (agricultural, alien invasive species, ecological connectivity…) and industrial (energetic…) uses of water. Cooperation also benefits the greatest number of people particularly in contributing to the development. It makes management of water flows (floods, droughts…) and their impacts (coastal flood hazard and coastal erosion…) more efficient and sustainable particularly over extreme weather events.

It is even more urgent and important to take action than climate change, while modifying water availability (quantity and quality), will incredibly worsen water stresses on ecosystems thus weakening our well-being and our ways of living.

While pursuing our climate change impacts mitigation efforts, adopting the objective of better managing transboundary waters is a preferred solution to improve our collective adaptation capacity. Water being a true link between all human populations all mankind will benefit from this effort.

Themes and Subthemes

Each communication will have to demonstrate an obvious link with the International Forum central topic that is The issues of transboundary integrated water management in a context of climate change.


-The first roundtable aims to understand, in a wide range of climate change situations, how to promote the integrated management of transboundary waters at the river basin scale? At the end of the International Year for Water Cooperation it will be interesting to precise what benefits concerned populations can be expected.

-The second roundtable will offer to Great Lakes and St-Lawrence system integrated management actors to assess their action and identify several new areas of collaboration.

Tools for Governance and Institutional Capacity-building

-Legal, regulatory and institutional framework

-Sectoral transversality, dialogue and conflicts resolution

-Scientific cooperation and information-sharing (warning and surveillance network, monitoring indicators…)

-Innovative financing mechanisms (strategic partnerships, revolving funds, payment for ecosystems services…)

-Stakeholders participation and particularly First Nations

Tools for Water Resources and Water Uses Management

-Diagnostic and planing (master plan, river agreements, TDA-SAP…)

-Decision-making — economics approaches (cost-benefit analysis, royalties…)

-Decision-making — ecosystems approaches (ecological services and goods, natural infrastructures, aliens invasive species…)

-Decision-making — hydrological approaches (resources allocation, threshold value analysis…)

-Land-use planing

-The water nexus, food, energy and water security

Tools for Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation

-Management of extreme weather events: periods of droughts and low water

-Management of extreme weather events: high rainfalls and floodings

-Management of consequences of extreme natural phenomenas (shorelines erosion, coastal flood hazard…)

-Management of human activities associated risks (spill, euthrophication…)

-Planing and management of artificial infrastructures

-Strengthening of communities resilience

Case studies

The Programming Committee will select three case studies presenting a special interest towards the afore-mentioned themes and sub-themes. Particular attention will be paid to propositions related to North American great rivers including the Great Lakes and St-Lawrence system and the Rio Grande / Rio Bravo.

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