SDG Academy: Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security
This course provides understandings of transboundary freshwater governance in theory and practice. Topics include transboundary freshwater security, international water law, water diplomacy, negotiations, institutions, management tools, and sustainable finance.
Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security
About this courseSkip About this course
Freshwater scarcity, stress, and crisis are increasing worldwide. More than a billion people live in water-scarce regions, and 3.5 billion could experience water scarcity by 2025. These pressures disproportionally affect vulnerable and marginalized people, including those living in poverty and displacement. Rising pollution levels accelerate the crisis by reducing water availability for human use and impacting aquatic life in rivers, lakes, aquifers, and the oceans.
Transboundary basins account for roughly 60% of freshwater resources, serving 2.8 billion people, or 42% of the world’s population. Complex shared transboundary freshwater and ecosystems cut across myriad sectoral needs, themes, and political boundaries. Setting effective policy goals, coupled with investments, means working at multiple scales with a range of public and private stakeholders throughout the watershed, from source to sea and beyond.
This course presents multiple facets of governance for transboundary freshwater security – from financing mechanisms to negotiation skills – while emphasizing the urgency of sustainable development and cooperation at many levels. It extends from basic building blocks and concepts to advanced thinking about transboundary governance, and applies theory to practice through examples and case studies. Topics covered in six modules range from the fundamentals of transboundary water security to international water law, water diplomacy, negotiations, institutions, management tools, and sustainable finance.
The course is designed for professionals who manage and make decisions about transboundary waters within line ministries and river basin organizations; managers of transboundary water projects and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Portfolio; the GEF IW:LEARN Network; NGOs, academics, and private sector actors working on basin management; development practitioners; young professionals and future leaders in transboundary waters, including undergraduate and graduate students; and anyone else who is keen to learn about the topic.
This MOOC was produced by the Global Water Partnership in collaboration with GEF IW:LEARN and its partners. Over 80 water professionals from around the world brought their experiences to lectures and case studies. Modules are coordinated by United Nations University, Northumbria University, Stockholm International Water Institute, IHE-Delft, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and the Global Water Partnership.
Course created with support from
At a glance
- Language: English
- Video Transcripts: English, Español, Français, Português, Русский, 中文
- Associated programs:
- Professional Certificate in Sustainable Water Management
- Associated skills: Finance, Water Law, Negotiation, Diplomacy, Ecosystem Science, Sustainable Development, Governance
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
Basic understandings of transboundary freshwater security
Fundamentals of transboundary water cooperation
Concepts, roles, and functions of different tracks of water diplomacy
Key approaches to negotiation, including inter-personal skills and techniques
Principles of international water law
Case studies of international water law in application
Transboundary water institutions’ roles, functions, establishment processes, and success factors
Management tools on transboundary water: including decision support tools, transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA), and strategic action programme (SAP)
Conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater
The source-to-sea approach in a transboundary water context
Stakeholder participation approaches and tools
Various options for financing transboundary water cooperation
Introduction to the Massive Open Online Course on Transboundary Freshwater Security
Module 1: Introduction to transboundary water cooperation and water security
Module 2: Water diplomacy and negotiation skills
Module 3: International water law
Module 4: Institutions
Module 5: Management tools and mechanisms for governance of transboundary freshwater security
Module 6: Finance for transboundary water security
Concluding lecture: Key learnings from the course and next steps