Retrospectives, Resilience, and U.S.-Mexico Border Water Resources Governance

October 15-16, 2018
University of Arizona

Environment & Natural Resources (ENR2) Building
Room S107, Haury Auditorium
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

* Everyone welcome! *

Celebrating 75 years of U.S.-Mexico water relations, the University of Arizona’s (UA) Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, with collaboration from the Institute of the Environment and Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), has partnered with El Colegio de Sonora (Hermosillo, Mexico) to hold a public workshop looking at the past, present, and future of these relations at the UA’s Environment & Natural Resources (ENR2) Building on campus on October 15-16, 2018: Binational Water Relations at 75 Years: Retrospectives, Resilience, and U.S.-Mexico Border Water Resources Governance.

The year 2019 will mark two significant milestones in U.S.-Mexico relations around water and the shared border environment: the 75th anniversary of the Treaty of 1944 that apportioned the water resources of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, the Colorado River, and the Tijuana River between the two countries (February 3, 1944), and the 25th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (January 1, 1994). The year 2018 also marks the 35th anniversary of the signing of the La Paz Agreement, the first comprehensive treaty-level accord on the environment between the two countries. These anniversaries offer a timely opportunity to reflect on the importance of these agreements themselves and the trajectories to which they gave rise, including new levels of binational cooperation and collaboration around water resources, fresh forms of science-policy engagement, and emerging binational environmental networks, among other changes. The Binational Water Relations at 75 Years Workshop will commemorate and critically examine these milestone events.

Even as climate change and social-demographic pressures increase the stress on shared binational water resources, Mexico and the U.S. have developed constructive governance pathways that started with the Treaty of 1944 and its establishment of the joint International Boundary and Waters Commission/Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas (IBWC/CILA), which has been one of the most influential institutions shaping water resources management and policy in the border region. CILA Commissioner Roberto Salmón and IBWC Acting Commissioner José Nuñez will be among the panelists to discuss the significance, major milestones, and future of this joint institution at the workshop on Monday, Oct. 15 at 10:45am in the Haury Auditorium at ENR2.

Uniting key scholars and practitioners who have witnessed changing water governance over the last decades, the workshop will be retrospective, contemporary, and prospective in its approach: looking back to remember the origins of how these trans-border governance relationships began and evolved, looking to the present to assess the resilience challenges the region faces, and looking forward to envision the future relations around water resources shared by the two countries.

This workshop will be able to enhance public knowledge about the history and contemporary significance of these institutions for environmental resource protection in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.


Keynote talk:

What it means for binational water resources today and in the future

Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 12:00-1:15 p.m.
ENR2 Building S-107, Haury Auditorium

Of all existing agreements between Mexico and the United States, the 1944 Water Treaty is among the top three instruments defining and operationalizing the sovereign relations between the two countries. It is a truly remarkable document. Signed on February 3, 1944, approved by the U.S. Senate April 18, 1945 (just 6 days after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s passing and 3 weeks prior to VE Day), and by the Mexican Senate, October 16, 1945, and ratified by the U.S. President November 1, 1945, it is no exaggeration to say that it sprang from exceptional circumstances and that it has become one of the principal anchors of the bilateral relationship. The treaty is so much a part of the architecture of our mutual relations that it has come to possess a quasi-constitutional character, judged by its sovereignty management elements, its complexity and functional reach, its dispute resolution procedures, its adaptability and adaptations, and the embeddedness it has achieved in binational and domestic water practice over 75 years. It has become a remarkable tool for binational cooperation on some of the most potentially contentious issues in binational affairs, its known flaws and limits notwithstanding. Both countries are fortunate to have such a foundational document to work with in facing the serious water management challenges that lie in our transboundary river basins and along the boundary.

* This event is free and open to the public! *

For further information regarding the workshop, please contact any of the following:

Dr. Margaret Wilder
Workshop Chair
University of Arizona

Dr. Nicolás Pineda
Workshop Chair
El Colegio de Sonora

Giancarlo Calbimonte
Workshop Coordinator
University of Arizona

Molli Bryson
Environmental Program Coordinator, Udall Center
University of Arizona

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy: (520) 626-4393

We gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of the following organizations:

The University of Arizona’s (UA) Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy [with funding from the Inter-American Inst. for Global Change Research (IAI and its AQUASEC Center of Excellence for Water Security) and International Water Security Network/Lloyd’s Register Foundation]; El Colegio de Sonora (Hermosillo, Mexico) (with funding from IAI); and the UA’s Institute of the Environment and Water Resources Research Center.

Workshop Flier   |  Keynote Talk  |  Press Release  |  Workshop Program