Boundaries Don't Protect Rivers, People Do: Integrating an Ecological Paradigm into Transboundary Water Resource Management

Purpose of the Study: The degradation of watersheds and the lack of adequate water supplies is a growing phenomenon in the 21st century. When countries share a common water resource there are natural interdependencies that exist between those countries. When water resources are degraded and pollution exceeds the natural rate of assimilation, tension between or among countries can develop. Integrative water resource management and ecohydrology are management strategies that recognize the interconnections that exist between the hydrological cycle, ecosystems, and societies. To implement these strategies throughout a bioregion requires us to understand the political ecology and hydropolitics of water resources, to learn new ways to organize the global community, and to transcend geopolitical relations in order to establish sustainable management regimes that are rooted at the community level. Findings and Conclusion: At the philosophical level, an ecological paradigm is necessary to bring about sustainable water resource management. At the practical level, an ecological paradigm provides us with a framework of cooperative management based on stewardship, conservation, and regeneration, which is necessary to ensure that communities live within the carrying capacity of local watersheds. Water security depends on a cooperative water governance system that promotes ecological modernization, which views environmental regeneration as a means to spur future economic growth and innovation in industrial ecology. Managing transboundary water resources in a cooperative and equitable fashion, while promoting international policy that guides the regeneration of fresh water ecosystems, is in the long-term interest of the global community and all sentient beings.