Climate and Environmental Change

Transboundary water vulnerability and its drivers in China

  • Asian International Rivers Centre, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China

Received date: 2008-01-21

  Revised date: 2008-07-30

  Online published: 2009-04-25

Supported by

The National Key Project for Basic Research on Ecosystem Changes in Longitudinal Range-Gorge Region and Transboundary Eco-security of Southwest China, No.2003CB415105


Competitive use of transboundary freshwater resources is becoming one of the key factors influencing regional peace and political relationship among states. In China, 18 major international river basins are concentrated in three regions, of which the total annual outflow at the border is 7320×108 m3, occupying 26.8% of the total annual runoff of China, and the inflow at the border is only 172×108 m3. In this paper, we analyzed the major drivers affecting shared water vulnerability in China, namely: (1) changes in physical conditions affecting the availability of water; (2) competing objectives between economic development and ecological conservation; (3) lack of emergency response mechanisms; (4) unsound administrative institutions; and (5) shortcomings in the development of regional cooperation based on transboundary waters. We concluded by identifying four pathways for reducing vulnerability: (1) encouraging scientific research cooperation; (2) constructing information-sharing channels; (3) establishing early-warning mechanisms; and (4) promoting further coordination and negotiation.

Cite this article

FENG Yan, HE Daming . Transboundary water vulnerability and its drivers in China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2009 , 19(2) : 189 -199 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-009-0189-7