The Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP) was initiated by the Global Environment Facility to create a baseline assessment of all the planet's transboundary water resources. The implementation of the programme was led by the United Nations Environmental Programme and consists of five transboundary water systems components: groundwater, lake basins, river basins, large marine ecosystems, and open ocean.

The TWAP River Basins (TWAP RB) component (2016) is a global assessment of 286 transboundary river basins, and is an indicator–based assessment, allowing for an analysis of basins, based on risks to both societies and ecosystems. It also includes provisional outlook projections to 2030 and 2050 for some of the indicators. Indicators have been classified into five thematic groups:

  • Water Quantity
  • Water Quality
  • Ecosystems
  • Governance
  • Socioeconomics

OSU Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation's team of researchers lead by Dr. Lucia De Stefano, now at Complutense University of Madrid, developed the Hydropolitical Tension indicator - baseline and projected - as part of the Governance thematic group. The indicator identifies provisions that exist in transboundary basins to lessen tensions arising from the construction of water infrastructure. The Governance thematic group also includes indicators on Legal Framework and Enabling Environment.

Overall findings for the Governance thematic group include:

  1. More effort is needed on transboundary agreements: The adoption of international principles associated with the shift of water paradigms toward more sustainable development has been faster in domestic water governance arrangements than in international treaties. Focus is needed on renegotiating and implementing transboundary agreements to incorporate more integrated approaches into basin-level management.
  2. Construction of water infrastructure needs a cooperative context: The construction of new water infrastructure is in progress or planned in many transboundary basins, including in areas where international water cooperation instruments are still absent or limited in scope. In such areas, a formal institutional framework for transboundary dialogue could help to assuage potential disputes stemming from unilateral basin development.
  3. Capacity building is required within countries to meet transboundary objectives: There have been advances in the development of transboundary institutional capacity to deal with transboundary tensions and the application of integrated approaches to national water management, but capacity building is still work-in-progress in most countries.

The full TWAP-RB Report is available as well as a short summary for policy makers.  The results and data collected during the river basin project are available through the TWAP-RB project site and RIver Basin Interactive Data Portal.  For more information about the TWAP project as a whole, please visit the TWAP Project Site and TWAP Project Data Portal