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

By Dimple Roy, Henry David Venema, Jane Barr, Henry David Venema on August 23, 2011

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) combines land and water management through broad-based stakeholder participation to realize multiple co-benefits in watersheds.

IWRM recognizes the economic benefits of managing water and related resources in an integrated manner to provide high levels of ecosystem services (ES). In turn, ecosystem management incorporating ES valuation and management is an increasingly popular and useful means of achieving IWRM goals as well as other socio-economic and environmental benefits.

This report provides a review of selected transboundary river basins to ascertain the application of ecosystem-based approaches and to draw specific lessons for effective IWRM in international contexts. Selected basins are those associated with the Mekong, Okavango, Congo, Danube, Jordan, Red and La Plata Rivers and represent Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, West Asia, North America and Latin America regions of the world respectively. The analysis focuses on whether basin agencies are recognizing and incorporating bundled ecosystem services into basin management.

Recommendations encourage the use of specific tools such as ecosystem goods and services assessment, valuation and communication and assist in the realization of co-benefits through transboundary basin organizations. Recommendations include the use of ES to develop a benefit sharing approach, or a win-win approach as opposed to more traditional competitive approaches. We also recommend the development of international ES markets to encourage such ecosystem management. Finally, we link this ecosystem management approach in transboundary basins to its immense potential for peace-building and cooperative management between riparian countries.

Report details

Measurement, Assessment, and Modelling
Focus area