TA4 – Transboundary Waters


TA4’s main purpose is to analyze experiences of transboundary water management, including forms of cooperation and, above all, the tensions and conflicts that are generated in the process. With increasing water demand, access to water becomes a focus of dispute, which may happen both in cases of water scarcity and abundance. When surface or groundwater bodies occur in a border area, the disputes often have specific traits that deserve further attention, which are an important aspect covered in TA4. The exchange of experiences between researchers from different countries, contributes to our understanding of how states tackle the challenge of managing transboundary water resources and the conflicts arising from water sharing. However, there are also conflicts within countries, that generate internal tensions resulting from the dispute over the use of waters that divide regional and local administrative units. Therefore, TA4 is not only concerned with studying water conflicts and cooperation along international borders but also in relation to national transboundary waters. The increasing demand for water and the progressive deterioration of water sources, together with the uncertainties arising from climate change, potentiate existing water disputes and give rise to new conflicts, while also fostering the need for developing cooperation initiatives to solve them. Analyzes of cross-border water management requires paying attention to various management scales, particularly the international scale. This includes the consideration of such issues as sovereignty, asymmetries of power between neighboring states, and the lack of clear international regulations on transboundary water rights. TA4 also seeks to foster both the theoretical and epistemological debate that may allow us to develop better understandings of the complex situations involving transboundary water management, as well as contributing to achieve greater solidarity and cooperation in this area of activity, both in relation to international and national transboundary waters. Our effort is also focused on stimulating research and collaboration with social movements located in international and national transboundary watersheds. We also have the aim to contribute towards developing new epistemologies that go beyond the classical understanding of nation-bounded sovereignty and seek to develop notions of shared sovereignty, based on cooperation and principles such as prior consent between the parties in transboundary water management, and giving more space to popular participation in decision making related to foreign policy in the field of transboundary waters.


Featured Themes from AT4 Members

  • Analysis of institutional arrangements for the management of transboundary waters (treaties, agreements or conventions on the subject)
  • Identification of situations of tension and potential conflict over the use of water in border areas
  • Contributions to solving cross-border water conflicts
  • Monitoring of negotiations between parties that share international or national transboundary waters
  • Building cooperation for equitable water distribution
  • Multi-scalar river basin management analysis
  • Studies of transboundary water governance experiences
  • Studies of social movements in transboundary areas, focused on their water uses, practices, demands, etc.
  • Existing and evolving forms of sovereignty in relation to transboundary waters


TA4 Working Papers

TA4 Multimedia Gallery