Groundwater international cooperation in South America, by Pilar Carolina Villar

In the article International cooperation on transboundary aquifers in South America and the Guarani Aquifer case, published in the issue 1/2016 (Volume 59, N. 1) of the Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, the author analyzes how international actors have motivated cooperation on transboundary aquifers and its repercussions in South America, especially in the case of the Guarani Aquifer System (GAS).  

Groundwater became object of international law only in the end of the 90s and international cooperation in South America is a phenomenon of the years 2000 which was boosted by the alliance between international organizations, States and epistemic community. The existence of international organizations and groundwater programs has been an important force for stimulating States to address groundwater issues, as well consolidating the idea of transboundary aquifers as a shared resource.

Of all the transboundary aquifer projects developed in South America, only the Guarani Aquifer case has evolved to an international agreement, which shows that cooperation is based primarily on producing knowledge about groundwater. Nevertheless, the joint data produced would not necessarily be used by States to deepen the process of cooperation started with the other aquifer States and reach an international agreement.

The cooperation process over GAS has shown that multi-actors partnerships and international projects contributed towards mobilizing States’resources and promoting joint arrangements, even though there are no conflicts over use. Despite the success of GAS as a technical cooperation example, the long process of the Agreement’ ratifications has shown the difficulties of transforming it into a joint groundwater management cooperation example. Even with all international organizations and epistemic community mobilization as well the knowledge produced, in the end it is up to States to deepen cooperation and to create proper arrangements and institutions to transboundary aquifers.

Read The Article:

VILLAR, Pilar Carolina. International cooperation on transboundary aquifers in South America and the Guarani Aquifer case. Rev. bras. polít. int.,  Brasília ,  v. 59, n. 1,  e007,    2016 .


Pilar Carolina Villar – Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Departamento de Ciências do Mar, Santos – SP, Brazil ( ORCID ID:

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