Community Water

Transboundary Groundwater Resilience Network Hosts First In-person Collaboration Event in New York City

Transboundary Groundwater Resilience Network Hosts First In-person Collaboration Event in New York City

By Ana Cristina Garcia-Vasquez, NM WRRI graduate research assistant; Kaustuv Neupane, NM WRRI graduate research assistant & Christine Tang, NM WRRI Research Scientist

The Transboundary Groundwater Resilience (TGR) Network of Networks, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations(AccelNet) program, met in New York City last week on March 23, 2023, to host an event for UN Water 2023. TGR partners and co-hosts New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) at New Mexico State University, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and University of California San Diego, West Big Data Hub at the University of California Berkeley (UCB), and Water and Climate Coalition.

Pictured from left to right are attendees at TGR’s UN Water 2023 event, Connecting the World for Transboundary Groundwater Resilience, held in New York City on Thursday, March 23, 2023.Top row: I. Zaslavsky, director/UCSD; S. Fernald, director/NM WRRI; E. Tapia Villaseñor, Professor, Universidad de Sonora; A.C. Garcia-Vasquez, graduate research assistant/ NM WRRI; M.E. Giner, US commissioner/IBWC; A. Granados-Olivas, professor/UACJ; J. Christopher, project manager/SDSC; M.A. Kinzer, artistBottom row: K. Neupane, graduate research assistant/NM WRRI; E. Lictevout, director/IGRAC; A.R. Maldonado, Mexican Commissioner/IBWC; S. Megdal, director/WRRC; D. Gyawali, former minister of water resources/Nepal; A. Atkins, executive director/West Big Data Hub; S.S Solis, Professor, UC Davis; E. Hestir, Associate Professor/UC Merced; C. Cramer, deputy director/SDSC.

This event was to further the project’s Action Agenda item #86, Connecting the World for Transboundary Groundwater Resilience, which is a commitment submitted to the UN Water Conference pledging to deliver scaled and replicable water actions used to improve water-related objectives, goals, and impacts.

This interactive 90-minute event allowed attendees to participate in discussions related to transboundary groundwater research and management, perspectives on successes, challenges, and needs, and possible solutions for transboundary groundwater collaboration.

The meeting began with a networking breakfast. Sam Fernald, director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, gave a presentation titled, Transboundary Groundwater Resilience: contributions from a network for disciplines and communities, which focused on the convergence of disciplines and community interaction as a pathway for supporting action agenda item #86.

Afterward, in the participant spotlight section, attendees shared their insights and experiences related to transboundary groundwater. This section of the event heard remarks and observations from many participants from all over the world, including TGR partners in Mexico, the US, Nepal, Sweden, and the Netherlands. A follow-up community discussion was moderated by Ashley Atkins, executive director of the West Big Data Innovation Hub at UCB and a Co-PI of TGR, and Julie Christopher, technical project manager for the West Big Data Hub and GO FAIR US, at SDSC.

Suggestions on achieving sustainable transboundary water development centered around what is needed for transboundary cooperation and what these transboundary agreements need to include. For successful cooperation, we need to consider the perspectives of all the stakeholders and build trust through better collaboration, communication, and data sharing. Dr. Elisabeth Lictevout, Director of the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre, stressed the importance of building trust by sharing accurate, up-to-date data and that data sharing is the best way to collaborate. Thus, we need increased investment in groundwater monitoring, data collection, and information sharing between countries and regions.

Legal agreements, policies, and regulations should promote equitable and sustainable use of groundwater, consider a long-term perspective that includes anticipating and mitigating challenges, and increase investment in sustainable management practice to ensure the continued availability of this vital resource. Preserving and protecting transboundary groundwater resources for future generations is the utmost priority.

Connecting the world for transboundary groundwater resilience is complex and challenging; however, we must undertake it to build a sustainable and resilient future for all. We must work together towards this important goal and ensure that our actions today contribute to a better tomorrow.

The event wrapped up with concluding remarks by NM WRRI graduate research assistant Ana Cristina Garcia-Vasquez, who emphasized that water connects all aspects of life. To achieve better water development, we must first learn how to communicate with each other.

For more information on becoming involved, please visit the TGR website, or sign up for the mailing list to learn about future TGR events and announcements.