Does the World Need More International Water Law?

On 27 October, Global Water Partnership and Wuhan International Water Law Academy organised an online engagement session based on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security. The topic was ‘Does the world need more International Water Law?’ The event attracted approximately 100 participants. “One of the most encouraging feedback was a participant who realized ‘we don’t need to be lawyers to work with international water law.’ We tend to think that it is always lawyers who exercise the law, but the law is there to be exercised by anyone,” said GWP’s Yumiko Yasuda after the event.

GWP and GEF IW:LEARN, along with global Partners and experts from the field of transboundary water developed the course, which opened on 31 August. The purpose of the online engagement session was to support the MOOC learnings, particularly on the topic of International Water Law (IWL). The session was co-organised by GWP and Wuhan International Water Law Academy, who recently joined as a MOOC Partner.

“It was a great pleasure to see so many participants joining our first MOOC online engagement session, and to feel such an enthusiasm for the topic. The fact that the MOOC has already attracted over 1200 participants since it opened two months ago, tells us that people are interested in the topic of IWL and transboundary water governance. I was also pleased to see very active engagement from the participants, who raised a number of interesting questions. The principles of IWL are not difficult to understand, but they are not always easy to apply and implement on the ground. This is why understanding different cases is very important,” said GWP’s Senior Network & Transboundary Water Cooperation Specialist Yumiko Yasuda.

As part of building increased understanding, Professor Patricia Wouters, Director of the Wuhan International Water Law Academy, brought up what she calls “the 3 Cs”: Communities, Communication and Cooperation.

“These are central to the IWL that promotes transboundary cooperation. Why? Because international law provides opportunities to build 'communities of interest' within, across and beyond a transboundary water, and it also provides a language and clear pathways for communication within defined parameters. Building real COMMUNITIES who share a common language and objectives with clear lines of COMMUNICATION nurtures meaningful COOPERATION,” said Wouters, adding that “IWL is really about finding transparent, supportive and meaningful ways for people to come together to find new ways to meet shared common goals - it is about water for all in ways that are fair, just and equitable.”

Participants had the opportunity to submit questions prior to the session – these were addressed during a first round of panel intervention. An interactive PollEv tool was also used to allow participants ask questions directly to the panelists during the session. These were answered during a second round of panel intervention. Remaining questions that could not be answered during the engagement session have been added to a new discussion forum on the MOOC platform (registration is needed to access this). Experts from Wuhan International Water Law Academy will continue answering questions until 11 November 2020.

Watch the full online engagement session:

The panelists:

Dr. Yumiko Yasuda(Event moderator), Senior Network & Transboundary Water Cooperation Specialist, Global Water Partnership

Professor Alistair Rieu-Clarke (Panel Chair), Professor of Law, Northumbria University

Professor Patricia Wouters, Director, Academy of International Water Law, Wuhan University (CIBOS)

Dr. Dinara Ziganshina, Scientific-Information Centre ICWC

Professor Kong Lingjie, Academy of International Water Law, Wuhan University (CIBOS)

Professor Owen McIntyre, University College-Cork

Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda 

Background:The MOOC on Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security was recently opened by GWP, GEF IW:Learn, and Partners. The aim is to bring together countries that share freshwater resources – giving them the skills to cooperate so that the shared resource is managed sustainably for the benefit of each country’s population. The self-paced MOOC is available on the SDG Academy platform - it is free and open to everyone - but especially designed for professionals who manage and make decisions about transboundary waters.

Top photo by Sun Moon Lake, Nantou, Taiwan.