Comparative approaches to the environmental governance of transboundary water resources between the United States and Mexico: The cases of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo Basin and the Colorado River Basin

Luzma Fabiola Nava Jiménez is working with the Water Program, researching the transboundary governance regime in the binational US/Mexico Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Basin to assess the institutional and organizational arrangements for water management and conservation, and thereby define a broader framework to compare different scenarios of transboundary water governance.

Luzma Fabiola Nava

Luzma Fabiola Nava

Introduction

The transboundary water resources framework between Mexico and the USA serves mainly to allocate international watercourses and to approach limited environmental issues within a fragmented governing structure. This structure itself is characterized by the presence of one binational boundary water organization and a multitude of emerging stakeholders, water managers, and decisions makers dealing with allocation and timely environmental issues. Water allocation terms are rigid despite the vulnerability of the transboundary water resource and the socio-economic development of border regions. Management—access, allocation, use — and protection of transboundary waters are intrinsically political. In both case studies, the management regime of transboundary water resources is hampered by regional uncertainties such as water variability, climate change, and socioeconomic growth, as well as competing stakeholder interests and heterogeneous and complex water-governance structures affecting resource access, use, and environmental protection.

Methodology

In this research, I study the transboundary governance regime in order to assess the institutional and organizational arrangements for water management and conservation, and to define a broader framework to compare different scenarios of transboundary water governance. The methodology of this research is qualitative. It is based on a participatory procedure, including public meetings, interviews, and stakeholder workshops. The challenge is to concurrently identify the perspectives held by the stakeholders and potential policy directions. This approach provides complementary information to hydrological modeling.

Preliminary results

Transboundary water management represents a domain of influence in which both sovereign states have benefits, obligations, and rights. Effective environmental protection and management of transboundary water resources is undermined by a lack of national capacity and by a lack of technical understanding. Inadequate institutional structure—at the binational, national, river basin and regional levels—as well as weak political will undermine the protection of water resources for equitable and reasonable utilization.

Preliminary conclusion

Satisfactorily solving transboundary challenges related to water management and environmental protection depends on the ability to understand and channel stakeholder preferences and interests in the policymaking process, and on the institutional capacities and political will of each government.

Note

Luzma Fabiola Nava Jiménez is a Mexican citizen, and a Colosio Fellowship Postdoctoral Scholar (Oct 2014 – Oct 2016).


Print this page

Last edited: 24 October 2016

CONTACT DETAILS

Tanja Huber

YSSP Coordinator & Team Leader

Young Scientists Summer Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 344

Research Program

You will miss the river when it runs dry: Water governance at the U.S. – Mexico border

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313