Gathering and analyzing data is no small job: getting information into a position where it can be used – especially by those outside your immediate discipline, peer group, and sector – is a big step in mobilizing knowledge products across these boundaries.
The IUCN Global Water Programme has joined forces with the Global Species Programme in Cambridge to work together on the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme. This Programme is a global assessment of all transboundary waters that will build on existing knowledge and help guide the prioritization of future investments by the Global Environment Facility. The overall objective of the programme is to apply a set of agreed methodologies to produce the first truly global assessment of all transboundary waters within five recognised categories: transboundary aquifers and island groundwater; transboundary lakes and reservoirs; transboundary rivers; Large Marine Ecosystems, and the Open Ocean. IUCN was involved in the design phase of the programme between 2009-2011. There are many exceptional individuals and research organisations involved in the programme which requires methodologies and data to be shared. With many partners and perspectives in the project, a large amount of inter-disciplinary dialogue has occurred to come to agreement on the approach to take to integrate large amounts of multi-disciplinary data. The programme is unique in its use of biodiversity research. The methodology being applied for Transboundary River Basins will use data from the IUCN Red List to map species and habitat loss, amongst other threats to ecosystems, for more than 200 transboundary river basins worldwide. This will also provide an opportunity to reconcile modelled information with on-the-ground observations of biodiversity status and associated threats, and identify key gaps in our knowledge of biodiversity. It also provides an excellent opportunity to capitalise on the broad base of expertise and knowledge within IUCN through collaboration between the Water and Species Programmes. Each transboundary river basin will use 21 simple indicators, ranging from water stress and nutrient pollution to human vulnerability and river basin governance arrangements, and will be presented as a scorecard for each basin. This will help link datasets around the world together to better understand how they can inform each other, to identify what information is missing and what needs more regular reporting, and to help understand the status of the world’s most important ecosystems. “Biodiversity plays a key role in the functioning of freshwater ecosystems and the important services they provide to people. It is therefore most encouraging to see this project, with direct input to the GEF investment priorities, include such a strong focus on the status of biodiversity. Hopefully it will lead to a stronger emphasis on sustaining ecological functions within the future management of these transboundary river basins.” William Darwall, Head of the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, IUCN Species Programme. The Global Water Programme and the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit of the Species Programme will be working with core partners the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), and UNEP-DHI in Copenhagen, and with thematic partners: University of Kassel’s Centre for Environmental System Research (CESR), City University of New York (CUNY), International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP), Delta Alliance, Oregon State University (OSU), and Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University.