This paper examines transboundary water resources management challenges currently being faced across the globe. Lessons learned from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America are outlined on the need for more integrated, ecosystem-based management of these international watercourses and on institutional arrangements for improving management. The World Bank's new Water Resources Management Policy is presented with an emphasis on elements related to a more comprehensive approach that considers integrated land-water management, proper pricing for water service delivery, nonpoint pollution abatement, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and institution building. Also described is a key international funding mechanism for more comprehensively managing international watercourses known as the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Restructed and replenished in 1994, GEF can play a catalytic role in building institutions for better water resources management and in fostering cooperative actions among nations in a basin toward the ultimate goal of making development more environmentally sustainable.

Author notes


The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Bank.