This focal area will enable Member States to improve their institutions, strengthen professional capacities and develop regulations for the sustainable management and environmentally sound protection of transboundary aquifers. More than half of the large continental aquifers are shared between two or more riparian countries. To compile a world inventory of transboundary aquifers and to develop wise practices and guidance tools concerning shared groundwater resources management UNESCO IHP established the long term ISARM (Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management) programme launched at the 14th Session of UNESCO-IHP Intergovernmental Council (2000). Within the first phase of the UNESCO ISARM programme, UNESCO-IHP provided technical support to the United Nations International Law Commission for the preparation of the Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers. The UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers in December 2008.
Since 2000, UNESCO-IHP has worked in collaboration with IGRAC on identifying transboundary aquifers which have led to annual publication of TBAs maps. In 2013, UNESCO-IHP undertook the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP) which led to the first-ever indicator-based assessment of TBAs. Results are available here. In parallel, UNESCO-IHP has also undertaken an in-depth assessment of three TBAs within the framework of the Groundwater Resources Governance in Transboundary Aquifers (GGRETA) project.
UNESCO-IHP is committed to strengthening groundwater monitoring activities of transboundary aquifers and filling their groundwater data gaps by providing guidance to establish and promote:
- Policies to encourage and assist organizations involved in the development of groundwater to monitor, record, assess and submit groundwater data and information;
- GIS databases to facilitate the storage and retrieval of groundwater data for different uses; and
- Institutional and legal frameworks to manage, share and use data on international level.