SWP Facilitates Transboundary Water Governance Webinar Series

Experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature train on transboundary water governance, with a focus on Southern Africa.

The Sustainable Water Partnership and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Global Water Programme collaborated recently for a seven-part webinar series on transboundary water governance. The series, which took place in August and September, is part of the SWP contribution to the Big Data Analytics and Transboundary Water Collaboration for Southern Africa.

Dr. Alejandro Iza, director of the IUCN’s Environmental Law Centre (ELC), introduced the series with two sessions on the legal and governance frameworks for transboundary water management. The sessions built on IUCN’s Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) project, which aims to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus-building, particularly in transboundary river basins.

Rebecca Welling, Natural Infrastructure Advisor for IUCN’s Global Water Programme, presented with South American team members on benefit-sharing and water governance. Meanwhile Diego Jara, Legal Officer for the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, presented on hydrodiplomacy.

The last two sessions were dedicated to the Southern African experience. Tariro Davison Saruchera, Senior Programme Officer in the IUCN Water Programme for East and Southern Africa, presented on arrangements for transboundary water management. Dr. James Dalton, director of the IUCN Global Water Programme, presented on case studies on transboundary water governance from South America, Africa and East Asia.

The webinar series concluded with a panel discussion among key regional decision-makers, including the Limpopo River Basin Organisation and the Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa, on the importance of enhanced transboundary governance, and the opportunities for using big data analytics to improve sustainable regional planning. The session was facilitated by Dr. Clara Bocchino, the SWP Coordinator of the Big Data Analytics and Transboundary Water Collaboration for Southern Africa, and John Dini, Research Manager of the Water Research Commission of South Africa, a Collaboration partner.

“I found a lot of it very interesting,” said Susan George, the operations manager for the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) South Africa. “I think it is important to relate it directly to what is going on with water management in South Africa. Practitioners need to realize there is a bigger picture that will impact the country’s water availability and use ultimately. Pressure has to be maintained on DWS [the South African Department of Water and Sanitation] not to drop any balls in any sphere of water governance and management, as they are the custodians of the resource in the country.”

The webinar series is the third focused on transboundary water issues organized by SWP, which is the coordinator of the Big Data Analytics and Transboundary Water Management Collaboration for Southern Africa. Previous webinar series include an eight-part training series in 2019 with experts from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a seven-part series in the spring of 2020 with experts from IBM Research on the opportunities offered by big data analytics to enhance water security through informed decision making.

“It is interesting to see that institutions are currently addressing issues of transboundary water governance, water security and big data analytics,” said Ngwabe Nonzamo of South Africa’s Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. “I think these institutions should work directly with the universities in improving their current curriculum.”

To view each webinar, click on the links in the “Topic” column in the table below.

Topic Presenter Background
Introduction to Water Governance Dr Alejandro Iza Head, IUCN Environmental Law Programme
International Water Law and Governance Dr Alejandro Iza Head, IUCN Environmental Law Programme
Benefit-Sharing and Water Governance Rebecca Welling (with Emilio Cobo and Maria Laura Piñeiro) Natural Infrastructure Advisor, IUCN Global Water Programme and team members from the South American Office
Hydrodiplomacy Diego Jara Legal Officer, IUCN Environmental Law Centre
Water Governance in Southern Africa Tariro Davison Saruchera Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands Programme, IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office
Transboundary Water Governance: Case Studies Dr. James Dalton Coordinator of Global Initiatives, IUCN Global Water Programme
Big Data and Transboundary Water Governance in Southern Africa: Roundtable Panel facilitated by Dr. Clara Bocchino and John Dini SWP – Coordinator of the Big Data Analytics and Transboundary Water Collaboration for Southern Africa WRC – Research Manager
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