New MOOC to Advance Cross-Border Water Security

August 31, 2020 – Enhancing water security between nations has become an imperative with water use in river basins surpassing sustainable limits and roughly 60% of the world’s freshwater resources crossing national borders. As a response, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aims to deliver the skills and knowledge for water cooperation. GEF IW:LEARN has been driving the development of the MOOC, coordinated and produced by Global Water Partnership (GWP), and with contributions from leading organisations.

The lives and livelihoods of 2.8 billion people – or 42% of the world’s population – depend on countries’ abilities to cooperate over shared water resources. The new MOOC, Governance for Transboundary Freshwater Security presents multiple facets of what it takes to manage shared waters sustainably. 

GWP Senior Network & Transboundary Water Cooperation Specialist Yumiko Yasuda is excited about the opening of the course: “The world faces the urgent need to better manage our shared water resources affecting half of the global population. We have always seen the need for building capacity, particularly on the governance aspect of managing these resources. This MOOC allows us to provide an opportunity, on a massive scale – to anyone in the world interested in this.”

GEF IW:LEARN Project Manager, Mish Hamid, believes that the MOOC is timely and fills an important niche as a step towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: “GEF IW:LEARN is well-positioned to respond to the priorities of the Global Environmental Facility’s International Waters focal area strategy, including enhancing water security in freshwater ecosystems. This MOOC provides experience from a global range of experts and GEF International Waters projects, enabling participants to gain insight into the challenges, complexities and opportunities of cooperation on shared water systems.” 

80 experts share experiences

The building of the MOOC and all its components – with 80 experts bringing their experiences to lectures and case studies – has been under way for over a year, and the timing of the opening is set to coincide with the start of the school year. This gives educators worldwide an opportunity to build the self-paced MOOC into their curricula.

The MOOC topics are covered in six modules, ranging from the fundamentals of transboundary water security to international water law, water diplomacy, negotiations, institutions, management tools, and sustainable finance. 

“The unique aspect of this MOOC is that we have engaged a wide range of speakers, from academics to practitioners, from all parts of the world, allowing the audience to understand both theoretical principles and practical applications. This MOOC can give you new knowledge, inspiration, and new connections through peer-to-peer learning experiences, which contributes to a water secure world for all,” said Yasuda.

In addition to students, the course is suitable for many groups of people – such as those working with river basin authorities, government officials, professional organisations, civil society organisations and networks, as well as the wider public interested in transboundary water issues.

“Without water nothing is secure, and cooperative transboundary solutions are crucial to obtain outcomes that are in the best interest of people and ecosystems,” said Hamid. “We encourage everyone to take the course, even well-experienced practitioners, and engage with your peers around the world working on those transboundary solutions. It is our hope that through this MOOC, we empower all stakeholders to become more proactive in achieving water security.”

Jackie King, world renown aquatic ecologist and Winner of the 2019 Stockholm Water Prize, says that she looks forward to learning from the other lecturers, to deepen her understanding of what transboundary water governance entails.

Find out more here and take the course here.

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GWP and GEF IW:Learn have produced the MOOC together. GEF IW:LEARN is a global project that aims to strengthen transboundary water management. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, implemented by UNDP and UN Environment, and executed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

Module coordinating partners are GWPUNU-INWEHUNECENorthumbria UniversitySIWIUNESCO International Centre for Water CooperationIHE Delft, and contributing organisations can be found on this page. The MOOC platform is provided by SDG Academy.