6. Assessment Conclusions
- Lakes exhibit unique buffering properties because of their large water volumes and long water retention times, which complicate their accurate assessment and classification. It is normally possible to draw conclusions about the pollution or degradation status of lakes by comparing their measured in-lake water quality parameters to accepted water quality standards. However, the uniform in-lake data necessary to make accurate water quality assessments are lacking for most TWAP transboundary lakes. Accordingly, an accurate, meaningful risk classification requires consideration of a range of interacting quantative and qualitative scientific, socioeconomic and governance factors, the relationships between which can be very subtle, and often incremental in impact.
- Based on the transboundary lake assessment results, if the ability of the countries to undertake the necessary financial investments to address the Incident Human Water Security threats (HWS), or the Adjusted Human Water Security (Adj-HWS), the African transboundary lakes collectively merit the greatest attention in terms of the need for comprehensive management interventions to address them. In regard to the surrogate indicator for anticipated BD improvements from investments in biodiversity potential, or Reverse BD (RvBD) as calculated by subtracting the Incident BD score from 1.0, again the African transboundary lakes collectively merit the greatest attention, followed by Asia and South America.
- Nonetheless, there is an urgent need for the international water community to undertake knowledge-based development focusing on transboundary lakes, and their links with other lentic and lotic water systems. The lake threat rankings, however, are also a function of issues important to the user of the ranking results, which provides the appropriate context for accurately interpreting their meaning. Thus, maximizing the meaning of the computed threats to the transboundary lakes requires the user of the ranking results to determine an appropriate context(s) and/or goals for considering them.
- The notion of ‘transboundary’ also is a major consideration in evaluating relative threats to transboundary lakes, noting that non-transboundary lakes within a transboundary river basin can also have transboundary impacts and implications. In assessing relative threats to transboundary lakes, therefore, it is important to consider that non-transboundary lakes and other factors originating outside a transboundary drainage basin can be important drivers exerting major influences on a transboundary lake and/or river basin, and thereby affecting their relative threat risks.
- Another important conclusion is that the availability of sufficient and sustainable financial, institutional and intellectual institutional support will remain a core requirement for undertaking future transboundary waters assessments.
- Still another conclusion arising from the transboundary lakes assessment is that future global-scale assessments involving multiple types of water systems should include representatives of all these water systems working collectively as a single unit to identify and examine the scientific and management implications of linked water systems, rather than considering them as isolated water systems.
- In presenting these conclusions, it is reiterated the Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) Platform Process developed by ILEC provides a powerful integrating framework for analyzing the multitude and magnitude of the factors comprising the TWAP assessment process, as well as their scientific and management implications. A particularly attractive feature of the ILBM Platform Process is that it facilitates the ability of its users to critically evaluate the strength of the governance elements necessary to achieve sustainable use of lakes and other lentic water systems, which collectively provide the widest range of life-supporting ecosystem goods and services to humanity.