Sharing water through better governance

01 July 2010 | News story

Strengthening skills and knowledge of local actors in the border region between Mexico and Guatemala is crucial, to ensure effective participation for better water management in the region.

Building local capacity helps give communities voice to influence local to national decision makers, and policy agendas to help solve water problems. In particular, the vulnerability of local communities to climate change impacts on water resources in an area where agriculture and a growing population are competing for the same resource.

The IUCN Water Management Unit for Mesoamerica and the IUCN Environmental Law Centre based in Bonn, brought together 40 key actors working on both sides of the Guatemala-Mexico border. The workshop allowed participants to discuss negotiation principles and attend training on negotiating bi-national agreements using principles from the guide ‘Governance of Shared Water: Practical Exercises’. This guide contains hypothetical water-sharing cases which pose situations that require a detailed analysis of the causes and effects of water conflicts, and the need for negotiation.

The training exercises allowed participants to learn about the different political, social, economic, technical, environmental and legal aspects which must be taken into consideration in order to achieve bi-national agreements on integrated water resources management. International law needs to be taken into account and political will is a deciding factor to ensure the success of cooperative transboundary processes.

As part of the Water and Nature Initiative, IUCN organized the training workshop in Tapachula, Mexico, with the participation of academia, members of watershed committees, students and scientific experts on the theme of shared water governance. The workshop is part of IUCN’s strategy in transboundary regions: to raise awareness, train and facilitate processes of reflection, and support joint efforts towards cooperative agreements.

The workshop allowed an exchange of knowledge between water experts, communities and academia, who agreed on the need to promote dialogue spaces for negotiation and cooperation. These fora ensure all water related understanding and benefits are shared equitably between the riparian countries in order to raise awareness of good governance of integrated water resource management. Given that most water resources in Mesoamerica are located in transboundary areas, the need to undertake effective cooperative and bi-national processes is vital.

For more information, please contact:
Tania Rodríguez, Water Management Caribbean Initiative:
Carlos Rosal, Water Management Unit IUCN Mesoamerica: