Transboundary water governance and climate change adaptation: International law, policy guidelines and best practice application

This WWAP publication (produced in close collaboration with IUCN Environmental Law Center, University of Dundee IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research) explores the role of water governance in a transboundary context, in a way that identifies best practice examples of effective policy guidelines, and ascertains the contribution that international law can make. Water is central to climate change adaptation. An ecosystem based approach to water management offers an effective strategy for adapting to the likely impacts of climate change on water. While the implementation of such a strategy raises a host of complex economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges, the contribution of governance is critical. For transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers, the inherent nature of climate change means that international law should be able to grapple with the tension between the preservation of the status quo, and the needed flexibility to meet new demands and face new uncertainties. Various strategies, which are considered throughout the paper, can be employed to enhance the flexibility of water arrangements. In addressing these issues, it is envisaged that this paper will benefit policy-makers, researchers, civil society and others who are interested in examining how transboundary water governance arrangements can be strengthened to better address climate change adaptation needs.

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