Transboundary watersheds governance: Building capabilities in Guatemala

03 June 2010 | News story

Senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with technical advisers and transboundary negotiation staff met in Antigua in Guatemala on 27-28 April 2010 to attend a course on Shared Water Governance.

Led by the Environmental Law Centre in Bonn and the IUCN Water Programme Mesoamerican office based in Costa Rica, the course aimed at high-level officials focused on building negotiation capacity and cooperation understanding for water resources which cross international borders.

The event focused on open discussion using example fabricated case studies to highlight the complexity of transboundary waters and the negotiations around their use and protection. The Guatemalan government’s position regarding transboundary water was presented together with the legislation guiding transboundary negotiations. With most of the Guatemalan territory containing rivers which are shared, and in some cases form the border with Mexico, transboundary issues and working across boundaries with neighbouring States is critically important for regional stability and economic development.

Experiences from the Water and Nature Initiative working at the watershed level in both Guatemala and Mexico highlight the similarities between countries in terms of water concerns and the need to work together on water issues as part of good transboundary water governance practice. Taking lessons from communities and sharing them at the highest political levels and with negotiators is critical for future water challenges in the region, using demonstrated watershed level concerns and management solutions to protect rivers and shared waters.

Transboundary water sharing will become more important as climate change, population and economic growth further impact on the quantity and quality of shared rivers and aquifers. Raising understanding of the issues and negotiation principles early helps countries in understanding that sovereignty over water is short-lived. Water falls and flows where hydrology dictates, and climate change will impact on this. Negotiating, sharing and protecting water resources across borders now may yield future benefits as countries look to secure sovereignty for energy generation, food production, and water availability in the future.

For futher information contact:

Dr. Alejandro Iza

Environmental Law Center of IUCN. Bonn, Germany.


Rocío Córdoba M. Sc.

Unidad de Gestión del Agua UICN Mesoaérica y la Iniciativa Caribe