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Shared Resources

Water crosses political boundaries. According to the World Water Assessment Program (WWAP), there are 263 international basins in the world, with a third of these basins being shared by more than two countries.

The world’s great water systems, whether river basins or underground aquifers invariably cross and re-cross the human delineations that separate communities and nations. History is littered with examples of international and domestic water-related disputes, and many continue to this day.

Yet history is also rich in stories of people coming together to manage water to help them grow crops, to supply water for domestic and industrial consumption, to preserve the environment, and to prevent flood damages.

As Earth’s population grows and our climate changes, many nations have recognized the need for cooperative partnerships to protect shared water resources and to provide equitable access for all.

In fact, the right to water access is guaranteed by numerous international agreements. According to the WWAP, there are more than 3,800 unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral declarations or conventions on water: 286 are treaties, with 61 referring to over 200 international river basins.

The development and organized management of water resources, and the laws and institutions for sharing the resource, have been key factors in the economic success and viability of regions and nations since the beginning of human history.

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