Foreword by Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Kümpel

Water knows no political borders. Across the world, there are 263 transboundary river basins and at least 300 transboundary aquifers and aquifer systems. The shared nature of these resources represents an opportunity for cooperation, but also creates challenges in the form of rising abstraction, pollution and uncoordinated use by riparian states.Optimal use and effective protection of transboundary waters are only possible if riparian states apply the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in a cooperative spirit. This is especially important in the arid Arab region, where water scarcity has always been a harsh reality and a recurring source of conflict. Sound management of shared water resources is therefore a core component of water security and sustainable development in Arab countries. In this light, the German government seeks to promote the protection and sustainable use of shared water resources and supports partner governments worldwide in the following areas within the transboundary water cooperation sector: harmonizing national water policies,developing cooperation agreements, promoting South-South exchange,and supporting investment in the implementation of joint protection and management plans.

The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) is directly mandated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to implement technical cooperation projects in developing countries in the field of geo-sciences. As geo-scientists, we work with our partners to remove stumbling blocks on the path to development. We harness our internationally recognized geo-scientific competencies to realize the development goals of the German government.

Cooperation between ESCWA and BGR started in 1992 with special emphasis on groundwater resources assessment and management.Already in the late 1990s, the issue of shared water resources became a core pillar in this regional project, and it has remained an area of focus ever since. Over the years, the ESCWA-BGR Cooperation addressed technical, institutional and legal issues related to various aspects of shared water resources including assessment, management, negotiation and cooperation. This has been realized through numerous activities,including local hydrogeological studies, technical advisory services,regional expert group meetings and workshops on an array of topics.The comprehensive Inventory of Shared Water Resources in Western Asia is a logical continuation of these efforts and, in certain aspects,represents the culmination of this long cooperation on shared water management. It provides a comprehensive knowledge base that can inform national and regional debates on shared water resources.It targets a wide expert audience of decision-makers, government officials, researchers, donors and multi-lateral agencies.More importantly, we hope that this Inventory will stimulate future cooperation and joint projects between riparian countries.