Groundwater Summit

Summit Opening Session


Alfonso Rivera, Ph.D., chief hydrogeologist of the Geological Survey of Canada, Department of Natural Resources Canada, will discuss the “State of Knowledge and Shared Management of Transboundary Aquifers at the Global Scale” during the Summit Opening Session.

A great number of transboundary water systems of the world, including transboundary aquifers (TBAs), support the socioeconomic development and wellbeing of an important part of the world’s population. At present, nearly 600 TBAs have been defined in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Transboundary water issues abound and are complicated by lack of adequate governance and shared management. Of upmost importance to resolve those issues are the background assessments, legally binding agreements, and by the fact that in many cases institutional asymmetries do not allow for a standardized knowledge.

A critical look at TBA issues, based on the analysis of identified TBAs, will be presented, along with what is working — and what it is not — illustrating the most important steps and lessons learned, and the good practices needed for water management in the transboundary context. The complex links between science, management, law, and society will be discussed, as well as why the knowledge of TBAs remains incomplete or contradictory. General principles of legal agreements and other considerations for cooperation and principles for shared management will be analyzed.

In addition to working at the Geological Survey in Canada, Rivera is the author and editor of the book. Canada’s Groundwater Resources, which was published in 2014. He is adjunct professor at the University of Quebec-INRS, Canada, and member of the Académie de l’eau, France.

Rivera has vast international experience having practiced hydrogeology for 40 years in Mexico, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain, as well as Canada, and he collaborates with research institutions and universities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Argentina. He led the ISARM-Americas group of 24 countries for UNESCO in the preparation of the Regional Strategy for the Evaluation and Management of Transboundary Aquifers in the Americas and edited the Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies’ Special Issue on International Shared Aquifer Resources Assessment and Management. Rivera provides scientific and technical advice to various Canadian and international institutions and governments including UNESCO, RAMSAR, IAEA, and IAH, as well as others. He holds a Ph.D. in quantitative hydrogeology from the École des Mines de Paris and Université Pierre & Marie Curie, France.