Interactive Online Session: Ecosystems, International Law, and Transboundary Water Cooperation

In 2021, GWP and Wuhan International Water Law Academy are co-organising an interactive online series called the "Transboundary freshwater security governance train". The sessions are conducted in an approach of a ‘train’, stopping at various locations in the world. At each of the stops, a different topic from the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security is explored. On 16 February, the 2nd session in the series looks at ecosystems, international law and transboundary water cooperation.

Please note: Prior to this online session, participants are encouraged to register to the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security, and to take a look at Module 3: International Water Law, particularly the lectures on Substantive Norms, Environmental Flows, Equitable and Reasonable Use and Procedural Norms for this module. 

Ecosystems, and the goods and services they provide, are increasingly recognised as critical for sustaining our health and well-being. However, a central challenge is that these systems defy political boundaries, which makes the need for cooperation between countries over their shared protection essential.  Given this challenge, this interactive panel discussion will explore the role of international water law in protecting ecosystems within transboundary river basins, and advancing transboundary water cooperation.   

Questions will be collected in advance through the MOOC platform, the Zoom registration form, and during the 1,5-hour-long session. Patnellists will provide brief presentations and then the floor is open to questions in breakout rooms, which offers an opportunity to engage with regional experts.

WHEN: Tuesday 16 February, at 9:00 (London), 10:00 (Stockholm), 12:00 (Nairobi), 16:00 (Bangkok), 17:00 (Beijing)

WHAT: The session will feature speakers with different experiences to share, discussing the following topics:

  • To what extent does international law protect the ecosystems of transboundary rivers? How do substantive and procedural norms play their respective roles in the protection of freshwater ecosystems?
  • How is scientific knowledge of ecosystems reflected in the design and implementation of contemporary transboundary legal arrangements?  Are there examples of best practice in embedding ecosystem thinking into these arrangements?
  • Does a focus on ecosystem protection help or hinder negotiations between countries concerning sharing transboundary rivers? For example, can an ecosystem services framework help identify and weigh key factors for determining what is equitable and reasonable?
  • Is there best practice on ecosystem protection at local and national levels, such as e-flows, that can be upscaled to the transboundary level?

HOW: Registration is required, please use this link.

WHO: The confirmed speakers are: 

  • Dr. Yumiko Yasuda (Event moderator), Senior Network & Transboundary Water Cooperation Specialist, Global Water Partnership

Background: The MOOC on Governance for Transboundary FreSecurityshwater  opened in August 2020 by GWP, GEF IW:Learn, and Partners. The aim is to bring together countries that share freshwater resources – giving them the skills to cooperate so that the shared resource is managed sustainably for the benefit of each country’s population. The self-paced MOOC is available on the SDG Academy platform - it is free and open to everyone - but especially designed for professionals who manage and make decisions about transboundary waters. 

Top photo: Vientiane Cityscape At Mekong River, by