Press release

Study of large transboundary river basins shows increased focus on environmental issues

August 23, 2011

WINNIPEG—August 24, 2011—Lessons learned from a study of large transboundary watersheds indicates integrated water resources management is most effective when focused on addressing big- picture issues, according to a report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development produced in partnership with the UNEP-DHI Centre for Water and Environment.

The report released at World Water Week in Stockholm reviews best practices in policies and programing for ecosystem goods and services (EGS) aimed at achieving effective integrated water resources management in some of the most water- stressed regions of the world.

"Well-designed EGS programing can be a key instrument for improved international cooperation and human security in water-stressed areas around the world," said Henry David Venema, director of IISD's Water Innovation Centre and an author of the report.   

About 40 per cent of the world's population lives in river basins that straddle two or more countries, cover almost half of the Earth's land surface and provide over 60 per cent of global freshwater flow. 

The report reviews some of these transboundary river basins, including the Mekong, Okavango, Congo, Danube, Jordan, Red and La Plata Rivers—representing Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, West Asia, North America and Latin America regions of the world respectively.

The Red River Basin is the least studied of the group, yet has a major impact on the health of Lake Winnipeg, the world's largest most eutrophic freshwater lake. "In the case of the Red River Basin, there are significant opportunities for transboundary collaboration and international cooperation to address flooding and water quality as integrated issues," Venema said.

"The institutions that manage transboundary river basins have traditionally focussed on issues like navigation, hydropower production and water sharing agreements. However, we are now seeing a shift toward cooperation on environmental issues. EGS programing can connect local issues such as habitat and flood protection with the overall health of the river and region. It's one of the most important frontiers in global environmental governance." 


Links: Ecosystem Approaches in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): A Review of Transboundary River Basins

For more information, please contact Nona Pelletier, IISD media and communications officer, phone:
+1 (204) 958-7740 or cell: +1 (204) 962-1303.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.