UNESCO Pilot course on

Transboundary Groundwater Management

13 th -14 th October 2008

Thessaloniki, Greece


Pilot Course on
Transboundary Groundwater (TBGW) Integrated Management

Provisional program


The pilot course is conceived as a model to be tested, evaluated and adapted in the process of designing a systematic training program. Therefore it does not cover all the domains of transboundary groundwater and does not address all stakeholders. Three domains of knowledge are covered in the pilot course, hydrogeology, law and policy-making.
The objectives of the pilot course are to teach hydrogeologists, lawyers and policy-makers how to work together as a team, provide them with a common knowledge, develop a common language and make them more familiar with the methods of reasoning of their partners in order to facilitate dialog and exchanges of ideas.

Both informative and interactive, the pilot course, introduced by a role play session to set the scene and have a general view of both the transboundary groundwater issues and the necessary corresponding knowledge in the three domains of the course, will consist in two “levelling” half-day sessions,  followed by a half-day “integration” session. Each session will consist in two to four short lectures to introduce the basic concepts and terms, followed by a round-table discussion.

The “scientific levelling” session will enable the hydrogeologists to evaluate what the lawyers and policy-makers know and understand of the hydrogeological aspects and offer them the necessary complementary scientific knowledge.

Conversely, the “legal and policy levelling” session will enable the lawyers and policy-makers to evaluate what the hydrogeologists know and understand about the legal and policy aspects and offer them the necessary legal and policy knowledge.

The “integration” session will essentially be based on the presentation of case histories to view the theory under a practical angle. It will offer practical training in multidisciplinary teamwork through round table discussions. It will also mention other domains of knowledge, such as, for instance, financial mechanisms across boundaries (e.g. polluters pay, benefit sharing …) within the case histories presentation.

A moderator, with a background in political sciences and a professional wide-angle experience in water policies, will provide guidance and stimulation during the course. He will lead the role play and participate in the evaluation of the course.
The lecturers, although more specialized in one of the domains or the other, will actively participate in all the sessions.
The participants are expected to take an active part in the course, through their interventions, questions, requests for clarifications and own examples from their personal experience.

Monday 13 October 2008

09h30-10h00: Introduction

Rationale, objectives, methodology and expected output of the pilot course, and presentation of the moderator, Prof. Joseph Westphal, and the lecturers, by Prof. Jean Fried, Director of the course

10h00-10h30: Coffee

10h30-12h00: Session 1: Role play between the lecturers and with the participants on a transboundary aquifer system

To establish a general image of the issues that can be expected when working on a TBGW system from the hydrogeological, legal and policy points of view, and have a general evaluation of the gaps in knowledge of the participants.

12h00-14h00: Lunch

14h00-18h00: Session 2: Levelling of lawyers and policy-makers by scientists,

Coffee-break from 16h00 to 16h30

The scientists will explain what knowledge they need and use and how they approach TBGW issues from a hydrogeological point of view, introducing and explaining the current scientific and technical language in hydrogeology and its adaptation to transboundary groundwater:

  • Introduction to groundwater (the hydrogeological cycle, vulnerability, saturated and non saturated zones…)
  • Characterization of transboundary aquifers (including identification and delineation)
  • Management of transboundary aquifers, from the hydrogeologist's point of view: shared data collection and processing, information management, modelling, quality management
  • Pollution (dispersion, residence times, effect of the non saturated zone on the classification of pollutants, etc) will be interwoven in these three chapters
  • Uncertainty and precautionary principle, and their application to transboundary aquifer systems will be treated in session 4, integration.


Tuesday 14 October

08h00-12h00: Session 3: Levelling of scientists by lawyers and policy-makers

Coffee-break from 10h00 to 10h30

The lawyers and policy-makers will explain what international water law consists of and what specificities they experience when dealing with transboundary aquifers systems:

  • Terms and concepts: a short review of the terminology currently used by water lawyers
  • Sources and definition of international groundwater law
  • Evolution and emerging principles of international groundwater law (in particular, the work of the International Law Commission)
  • Compliance mechanisms
  • Procedural rules and dispute settlement mechanisms

12h00-13h30: Lunch

13h30-17h30: Session 4: Integration of science, law and policy: case histories and round table discussions

Coffee-break from 15h30 to 16h00

Two case histories, related to the emergence of new nation-states and the creation of transboundary aquifers in that particular context, will be presented and discussed in a round-table discussion which will take most of the session: Central Asia within the creation of new republics from the former Soviet Union and the Balkans within the creation of new republics from the former Yugoslavia.

A round table discussion will follow, reviewing the various aspects covered by the course and enabling all participants and lecturers to confirm the professional relationships established during the course.

17h30-18h00: Conclusion of the pilot course by Prof. Jean Fried