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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Connecting the world for transboundary groundwater resilience

New Mexico State University - New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (
Academic institution
    Objectives 1. Network of networks for healthy aquifers connecting hydrologic, social, and ecological systems. Objective 2. Action framework with concrete steps and timeline for actions to promote healthy transboundary community and aquifer systems worldwide. The project seeks to expand and connect international and multidisciplinary networks interested in healthy groundwater systems to include multiple disciplines (social, economic, educational, political, etc.), across multiple scales (local to transboundary), and connecting new geographies. This will allow new water management schemes that are being used in other locations to inform new work and new groups through improved scientific communication. Data and information will become more accessible when information sharing and data sharing are encouraged within the expanding network. Likewise, the broader network will benefit the collaborations between sectors of diplomacy where the problems are similar. In conclusion, this project will help interested parties learn from each other. The discoveries and paths forward determined by the network will be the basis of and inform an action framework that lays out internationally agreed on steps and an achievable timeline for actions to promote healthy transboundary aquifer systems. This initiative focuses on a data, systems, network, and community-based approach to identify leverage points and key drivers to foster transboundary groundwater resilience. We collaborate with networks and organizations in the Transboundary Groundwater Resilience (TGR) Network-of-Networks (NoN) to educate the public on FAIR data principles, spatial analysis, network analysis, and systems modeling through our seminars, workshops and panels.The partners will collaborate on developing data analysis and visualization tools and coupled natural and human systems models for policy analysis. The deliverables above provide a basis for the creation of templates, a generic model, and a framework for communities to increase their data, systems, and network knowledge and build their own models. We will build on past successes. The TGR NoN has hosted multiple events to identify knowledge and resources gaps and to develop students and early-career professionals to catalyze work that mitigates transboundary groundwater depletion. The TGR NoN project team created the Transboundary Aquifers Research Landscape using publicly available publication and author data to enable persons working on transboundary groundwater resilience to identify potential collaborators and perform network analyses to understand who is part of successfully connected research groups. The TGR NoN Member Directory allows members to list their current projects and willingness to collaborate. The TGR Seminar Series fills the gap of knowledge and tools between the water, social, data and systems science networks by educating the groups on the groundwater work of and methods used by each discipline. Students and early career professionals have the opportunity to develop their presentation skills in TGR-focused Collective Learning Meetings. In TGR interactive events, participants identified stakeholder groups, established research priorities and created systems maps to show the causal links between variables they deemed important to groundwater resilience. Follow up mechanisms: We invite you to engage in the development of the Network of Networks and Action Framework. Specific engagement tools include websites, conferences, workshops, international organization meetings and sessions.
    Expected Impact
    This project for SDG implementation action develops critical innovative science and international collaborations with affected communities and local managers. Using transdisciplinary approaches that contribute knowledge from different social, economic, diplomatic and scientific perspectives is key for combating climate change and minimizing its impacts. The process of forming a network of networks (NoN) expands the foundation for this transdisciplinary approach across spatial scales to better understand why groundwater depletion occurs across regions and feasible approaches of aquifer recharge. This new action accelerates SDG implementation beyond other actions by using systems modeling and community-based approaches to identify important policies that promote the SDGs and include stakeholder input. By utilizing a holistic systems approach, the action addresses SDGs 6.5, 6.6, 6.a, 6.b, 13.3, 15.1 as well as many other climate change, natural resources, and community health SDGs. For example, similar to our argument that groundwater resilience requires a transboundary approach, we also posit that it requires a watershed-based approach, as aquifer recharge strategies often depend upon the resilience of several natural resource and management functions. Efforts to spread flood flows to recharge aquifers are hampered by the erosion occurring in uplands. Floods scour soils due to diminished vegetation resulting from depleted soil moisture and higher intensity storm events. The flows laden with soils, nutrients, and weed seed would create significant maintenance issues for farmers on their fields and the irrigation systems, and thus are rejected and opportunities for aquifer recharge are unavailable. The experts that are needed to develop solutions to these challenges are the actual land managers, including the ranchers on the uplands, the farmers in the valleys, and the managers of these systems. However, these managers do not use the same management tools, requiring the transdisciplinary development of collaborative tools. As well, the control of their management has regulatory and natural capacity limits, requiring innovative policy, technical support, and nature based solutions. The ultimate expected impact of this action is to develop this framework of a network of action, collecting success stories and sharing results across jurisdictional boundaries, and identifying the integrated needs of innovation in the governance of natural systems. This approach will outline a framework for sustainability of the network of networks after the end of the project cycle for healthy transboundary community and aquifer systems worldwide.

    New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
    New Mexico State University
    Transboundary Groundwater Resilience Network of Networks (TGR NoN)
    San Diego Supercomputer Center
    University of California, San Diego
    Big Data Innovation Hubs
    University of California, Berkeley
    University of Bergen
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    Side Event Proposal Partners:
    National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR)
    Committee on Data of the International Science Council (CODATA)
    Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Hydrology Domain Working Group
    Water and Climate Coalition (WCC)
    World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization - Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (UNESCO- IHP/Invited)
    International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC)
    Research Data Alliance - Global Water Information IG
    The Peace Innovation Institute at The Hague
    Global Greens
    Autonomous University of Juarez (invited)

    Additional information

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Goal 13

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    Goal 13


    Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries


    Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population


    Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030


    Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies


    Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning


    Number of countries with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


    Total greenhouse gas emissions per year


    Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning


    Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment


    Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible


    Amounts provided and mobilized in United States dollars per year in relation to the continued existing collective mobilization goal of the $100 billion commitment through to 2025


    Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities



    Number of least developed countries and small island developing States with nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies, national adaptation plans and adaptation communications, as reported to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Goal 15

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    Goal 15


    By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

    Forest area as a proportion of total land area
    Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type


    By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

    Progress towards sustainable forest management


    By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

    Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area


    By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

    Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity
    Mountain Green Cover Index


    Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

    Red List Index


    Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

    Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits


    Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked


    By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

    Proportion of countries adopting relevant national legislation and adequately resourcing the prevention or control of invasive alien species


    By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts


    (a) Number of countries that have established national targets in accordance with or similar to Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in their national biodiversity strategy and action plans and the progress reported towards these targets; and (b) integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting


    Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked
    Name Description
    Kickoff side-event at UN Water 2023
    Network of Networks for overall transboundary groundwater resilience
    Framework for transboundary groundwater resilience
    Financing (in USD)
    NSF - AccelNet-Design: Network of Networks to Catalyze Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research (TGR)
    In-kind contribution
    Transboundary aquifer research and related activities conducted by NMWRRI and NMSU and partners (to be determined at side-event and during future activities)
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    Action Network
    water logo
    24 March 2023 (start date)
    30 April 2027 (date of completion)
    New Mexico State University - New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute
    1. Global
    Other beneficiaries

    Communities, economies, and ecosystems dependent on healthy transboundary aquifers and connected surface waters.

    More information
    United States of America
    United States of America
    Contact Information

    Alexander (Sam), Director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, Professor of Watershed Management