Most freshwater and marine systems are transboundary in nature and therefore depend on sound regionalism and regional governance. The way these transboundary water systems are governed and managed is of vital importance for economic and social development, food security, biodiversity conservation, and the sustainable use and mainte­nance of ecosystem services. Yet there is little systematic knowledge about how transboundary water management systems are affected by regionalism and regional organizations.

This study provides the context and analytical tools needed to understand contemporary regionalism and regional organizations from a global and political economy perspective. It reports on the results of an extensive desk-study of the GEF International Waters (IW) portfolio to assess each project’s relation to regional cooperation and the extent to which it met its design objec­tives. It concludes with recommendations to the GEF to 1) engage more fully with stakeholders to synchronize national and regional concerns, incentives and benefits, 2) assess what regional institutional frameworks are most effective, and 3) consider more fully the regional and economic con­text, including the logic of recipient country-led regional organizations, during the design of IW interventions and projects.

The report was prepared for the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environmental Facility by SEI’s Deputy Director Jakob Granit, who is STAP member for International Waters, and Fredrik Söderbaum of the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Download the report (external link to GEF).