BRIDGE - Building River Dialogue and Governance

03 June 2011 | News story

Creating good water governance capacity lays the foundation for effective and sustainable water management, this is the crux of IUCN’s new water project BRIDGE - Building River Dialogue and Governance.

"Water governance capacity is the competence of a society to implement effective water management through transparent and cost efficient policy, law and institutions. The BRIDGE project aims to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus-building, in particular in transboundary river basins", said Alejandro Iza, Head of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre.

"The BRIDGE project will help ensure that reforms are coordinated across borders, internally consistent and able to catalyse progress on safe water supply and sanitation, Integrated Water Resource Management, and a transition to sustainable water management”, added Mark Smith, Director IUCN Global Water Programme.

There is a strong demand in improving capacity on water governance across the globe. With more than 270 transboundary rivers worldwide, and threats such as climate change impacts, the need for improved capacity in managing water resources sustainably and equitably has never been greater. IUCN has received requests from governments to train foreign affairs officers to deal with transboundary water management issues.

In Mesoamerica, the area of shared watersheds encompasses almost 40% of the region’s territory, therefore a strong focus on national and transboundary water governance is really important. Through the BRIDGE project, strengthening the capacities for joint efforts on transboundary water management, will improve coordination, ecosystem health and livelihoods across the different countries”, said Rocio Cordoba, IUCN Mesoamerica Water Coordinator.

The Swiss-funded ‘BRIDGE’ or Building River Dialogue and Governance project, will be implemented in three IUCN regions. In South America, work will center around the Zarumilla and the Catamayo-Chira river basins, both lining the borders of Ecuador and Peru, and the Titicaca river basin, shared between Bolivia and Peru. The IUCN Mesoamerica office will implement the project in the Coatan river basin on the Mexico- Guatemala border, the Goascaran river basin on the Honduras-El Salvador border, and the Sixaola river basin, shared by Costa Rica and Panama. From the IUCN Asia office, the work will be conducted in the ‘3S’ Rivers, tributary rivers of the Mekong, the Sesan (Vietnam-Lao PDR), Sre Pok (Vietnam-Cambodia), and Sekong (Vietnam-Cambodia).

The 3S River Basins are an interesting project area as the focus lies on Mekong tributaries, instead of the mainstream Mekong. Shifting attention to these tributaries will also contribute to the overall Mekong river management. The project will be a catalyst for sustainable water resources development in the wider Asia region, including progress on transboundary cooperation”, said Lalita Rammont, Water Programme Officer for IUCN Asia.

An inception meeting for the BRIDGE project was held at the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (ELC) in Bonn, from 30 May to 1 June. The IUCN Water Programme, ELC and the 3 IUCN regional offices will work in close collaboration on the BRIDGE project, including a number of IUCN Members and Commissions’ staff.

The governance series of the IUCN WANI (Water and Nature Initiative) toolkits, which include SHARE, NEGOTIATE, and RULE, will function as reference and guidance for learning and capacity-building throughout the course of the project.

For more information, please contact water@iucn.org