Welcome to another Open Access Ambassador Spotlight Blog!

Our OA Ambassadors raise awareness in their local communities about global OA movements as well as related opportunities through IWA Publishing. They are representatives of both the International Water Association and IWA Publishing and our joint goals to empower the next generation of water leaders and to shape the future of the water sector. These blog posts highlight their specialty and research focus, as well as emphasising the importance of Open Access publishing. 

Kator Jethro Ifyalem is a civil engineer and MSc student from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, committed to environmental sustainability. Connect with Kator on LinkedIn!

Nearly half the world's population lives in river and lake basins shared by two or more countries. Without active cooperation around these shared waters, conflict can arise. Effectively governing our transboundary waters promotes peace and sustainable development.

Equitable Sharing

At the heart of shared water management is the basic idea that each riparian country is entitled to an equitable share of the water resources. Determining exactly what constitutes an “equitable share” can be challenging, as countries have different needs and priorities. Factors like population, contribution to flow volumes, economic reliance on water, and much more be weighed. Open communication channels between nations sharing a water resource facilitate reaching amicable allocation agreements.

Collaborative Management

Collaborative bodies and commissions facilitate cooperation among nations that share water resources, enabling them to conduct research collectively and to strategize, develop, allocate, oversee, and safeguard these vital assets. Through collaborative data collection and informed decision-making, shared waterways can be managed in a harmonised manner, mitigating potential political tensions. Regional river basin organisations serve as essential forums for countries to engage in active cooperation concerning their transboundary waters.

Confidence and Capacity Building

Countries may hesitate to actively share data or collaborate out of fear of losing access to the needed water supplies. Confidence and trust between parties take time to develop. Starting small with less politically charged collaboration in areas like flood control, energy production or habitat conservation can help strengthen relationships and pave the way for addressing more sensitive water allocation issues. Investing to improve each nation's capacity for joint water management is invaluable.

Institutional Adaptability

Governing bodies and allocation methods may need to adjust over time as factors shift like climate change impacting water availability. Built-in flexibility helps transboundary water management frameworks stand the test of time. Reassessment clauses that allow for renegotiation at certain intervals can enable adaptive allocation plans.

Processes for Dispute Resolution

Even with the best-laid agreements and intentions for cooperation, conflicts over shared waters can emerge. Having impartial third parties help to mediate and resolve grievances constructively is vital for sustaining peace.

Leveraging Technology 

Using satellite data, system modelling tools, and basin-wide monitoring networks, transboundary water resources can be effectively understood, and flow forecasting can be accurately predicted. These resources, when combined with shared digital platforms that provide real-time data, enable countries to make informed joint decisions and engage in adaptive management. Additionally, online coordination spaces facilitate collaborative efforts among stakeholders.

Inclusive Stakeholder Input

Water management authorities should open decision-making processes to local stakeholders who rely directly on shared waters for their livelihoods and well-being. Indigenous knowledge and perspectives on sustainable water strategies can inform better-shared water governance. Youths and women are also often under-represented in transboundary forums.

Integrated Approach

The efficient management of shared water resources depends on the recognition of the interconnections between various sectors such as water, food, energy, transportation, trade, and the environment. The nexus approach emphasises the impact that decisions in one sector can have on sustainability in others. Cooperation involves more than just determining water quantities; it also requires harmonizing policies across interconnected domains.

The global water crisis demands our best collective efforts toward sustainable stewardship of our shared water resources. Transboundary collaboration fosters peace and innovation. On this year’s World Water Day, let us reiterate our pledge to work together for mutual benefits, recognizing the importance of water for peace both now and in the future.

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