New video: learning and dialogue, key steps to building water cooperation across borders

The IUCN BRIDGE projects works towards building river dialogue and governance in transboundary basins. Globally, over 276 lake and river basins stretch across multiple nations, accounting for an estimated 60 per cent of global freshwater flow. Good transboundary water management is crucial for peace, health, and prosperity.

Photo: IUCN /Pablo Cambroner

A new video, produced by the IUCN BRIDGE team, aims to give an insight into the learning and dialogue that takes place during BRIDGE workshops. Entitled ‘BRIDGE: How to build water cooperation across borders’ is now available on YouTube.

BRIDGE, implemented by IUCN and funded by SDC, uses five strategic pillars to facilitate improved transboundary water governance: demonstration, advice and support, leadership, dialogue, and learning [see infographic]. Launched in 2011, the project has expanded its work from nine to fourteen transboundary basins across the world [BRIDGE map]. 

Around 60% of the world’s international river basins lack any type of cooperative management framework. "As part of IUCN’s strategy for biodiversity conservation, we see as one of our key pillars is to help countries and stakeholders put in place good water governance” says Mark Smith, Director IUCN Global Water Programme

Case studies on the different BRIDGE basins, and thematic briefings on topics such as ‘Water Diplomacy’ and ‘Treaties and Agreements’, have been developed and disseminated to support knowledge sharing. A dedicated web portal, the BRIDGE Water Law and Governance Support Platform (WLGSP), offers legal expertise and technical support on water governance.  

“A wealth of information and knowledge has been collected over the years through the BRIDGE project”, said Isabelle Fauconnier, IUCN Water Policy and Sustainability Advisor, “however, what has been less evident is capturing the bounty of dialogue and learning that happens during the BRIDGE practical learning workshops.”

Masterminded by Alejandro Iza, IUCN Environmental Law Director, the BRIDGE learning workshops rely on a set of fictional basins and conflict and cooperation scenarios, which participants use as practical exercises to hone newly acquired skills and knowledge in negotiations and benefit-sharing.

©IUCN/PACO

BRIDGE workshops equip participants, who range from basin managers to government officials, business representatives to community leaders, with new skill sets needed for improving transboundary water governance. These exchanges also open new spaces for informal dialogue between stakeholders not usually gathered around the same tables.  

It will help us face the reality [in our basins] and move forward, accepting that this is our joint problem, and this is how we can solve it”;

We the upstream country cannot say ‘we don’t care.’  We need to think more broadly”;

We learned how to negotiate, how to listen to the other, how to get to a shared common objective ”;

We have a tendency to forget the environmental benefits in water resource planning, although they are actually really important […] and we can use BRIDGE tools to ensure they are shared equitably among all stakeholders

These are but some of the participants’ testimonies captured in the new video, along with information on the project and international water governance. “Recording participants’ take-home messages and capturing how new learning influences knowledge and application of transboundary water management tools, gives us an invaluable insight into the impact of BRIDGE workshops”, said Raphaël Glemet, IUCN BRIDGE Coordinator for Asia.    

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Links and more information:

BRIDGE video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7igcOKFwd9w

BRIDGE project: www.waterandnature.org/initiatives/bridge  

Water Law and Governance Platform: www.waterlawandgovernance.org

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