More than 150 countries share transboundary rivers, lakes, and groundwater making up more than half of the world’s freshwater flow. Conflict and cooperation are inherent dimensions in cross-border water governance. State and transnational agencies in shared water systems, international organisations, and regional coalitions have been actively involved in drafting and deploying formal cooperation agreements towards collective and corporative strategies in managing transboundary waters. In 1992, in Helsinki, governments agreed to manage shared waters in a sustainable way, mitigate risks and prevent possible conflicts over a common resource, thereby leading to states agreeing to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. Serving as a legal framework and an intergovernmental platform, the Water Convention has more than 130 countries currently participating, and over the past 30 years has been serving as a guiding document for countries and communities to better manage shared watercourses while contributing to a sustainable ‘water future for all’. Why is cross-border water management so important? Because more than 3 billion people, directly and indirectly, depend on these resources, and in recent times climate impacts such as floods and drought, the growing pressure of water demand from various socioeconomic sectors, water pollution and health impacts, and the geopolitical volatility in some regions are threatening to increase conflicts. In this chapter, we argue that cross-border water governance’s operational efficiency is key to maintaining peace and stability for regions sharing water. Also, we evaluated gaps and needs in ensuring that cooperation prevails over conflict in such settings, from the supranational to the subnational levels. We conclude that boosting cross-border water governance processes and practices at the regional scale via a regional integration strategy also holds strong potential to support the implementation of SDG 6 and the 2030 Agenda.

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