Climate-proofing transboundary water agreements
Global climate change will pose a wide range of challenges to freshwater resources, altering water quantity, quality, system operations, and imposing new governance complications. Among the many unresolved challenges is how to integrate information on future hydroclimatological conditions into the politically complex system of transboundary water agreements, including formal treaties, international agreements, and transnational management institutions. Yet, most treaties and international agreements lack important tools for dealing with current challenges, such as flood control and water quality, and they lack adequate mechanisms for addressing changing social, economic or climate conditions. There are a variety of approaches that can be incorporated into existing treaties to allow for flexibility in the face of climate change, including: (1) adjustable allocation strategies and water-quality standards; (2) response strategies for extreme events; (3) amendment and review procedures; and (4) joint management institutions. We offer some explicit examples where specific strategies have been successfully implemented in ways that both reduce the risks of political conflicts over shared waters and lessen vulnerabilities to climatic changes.