Moving forward: good governance in the Sixaola transboundary river project

Progress was made on the BRIDGE river project Sixaola, a transboundary river on the border of Panama and Costa Rica, following a meeting led by IUCN with the Sixaola Binational Commission from 14-17 May.

Proyecto BRIDGE

The meeting took place in Bocas del Toro, Panama, with the aim to strengthen capacities in governance of the shared river basin Sixaola and determine next steps for all parties involved.

The Sixaola Binational Commission mission is to conserve biodiversity, foster sustainable development and strengthen binational institutional frameworks. Following the plans for 2012, a four-day meeting was held in Panama during which over 30 participants discussed the commission’s achievements and ways forward. Talks were also focused on the IUCN training and learning portfolio on Governance of Shared Waters.

One of the hot topics discussed was the water-related risks in the basin as a result of climate change. The Commission proposed a risk-analysis of the basin which would be the Commission’s first joint project on a common work plan. Another idea in the works is incorporating the joint actions by both countries in the Sixaola River.

The IUCN and the Commission explored the topics of international law, governance of shared waters and building consensus. The management of shared watersheds is a complex topic. To help, the IUCN incorporated tools and exercises for participants to use this knowledge and skills in negotiation and consensus-building.

Meetings such as this have proven to strengthen and consolidate the Sixaola River Basin Commission. Mildred Ramírez, a civil society representative, stated, “The Commission is a very important body because we are in both Panama and Costa Rica, working together. We have everything from great natural riches to environmental problems ¨[.these meetings are important to see the expectations of both countries and be reach an agreement.

Successfully linking IUCN, the Sixaola Binational Project, the Sixaola Binational Commission and the Executive Secretariats of the Costa Rica-Panama Convention for Border Development, the meeting was characterized by synergy and coordination towards the Commission's aims. 

This work is part of IUCN's BRIDGE (Building River Dialogue and Governance) project, promoting transboundary cooperation and water resource management, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); and Water Management for Adaptation, supported by the German Government through ICI-BMU.

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