EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

International River Basin Planning Under the Water Framework Directive and the SDG indicator 6.5.2 – Case area: Norway - Sweden

Belinda Flem1 and Lars Stalsberg2
Belinda Flem and Lars Stalsberg
  • 1Geological Survey of Norway, P.O. Box 6315 Torgarden, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway (
  • 2The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, P.O. Box 5091, Majorstua, 0301 Oslo, Norway (

Insufficient and fragmented management of TBAs might affect sustainable development both within and beyond a country's borders. There are several examples worldwide of disagreements over whether a certain infrastructure scheme planned by one riparian country would have negative impacts on a riparian state. Transborder cooperation and knowledge of transboundary aquifers (TBAs) has evolved through an inventory under the convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes (Water Convention) from 1992. Within EU countries, the Water Framework Directive (WFD), 2000/60/EC, intends to contribute to achieve the objectives of the Water Convention. The national groundwater management systems in Norway and Sweden and their implementation of the WFD has been studied as a case area. Emphasis has been placed on international river basin districts (IRBD) and transborder cooperation. The findings offer recommendations for authorities and policymakers on how they could improve the long-term management and ensuring transparent decision-making of transboundary groundwater management.

In Norway and Sweden, TBAs play a minor role in supplying freshwater resources and sustaining socio-economic development in transborder areas. The analysis shows that surface water overrules ‘the invisible’ groundwater. The study highlights several factors that need to be addressed. First, the Norwegian national water management systems are fragmented and over-complex, which complicates national and transnational cooperation. Second, Swedish legislation must be revised to meet the requirements of the WFD regarding IRBD delineation. Finally, transborder dialogue and joint projects on groundwater mapping are necessary for mobilising resources and the necessary political support to obtain knowledge on TBAs.

More information on the study preformed through funding from the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation can be achieved from Flem at al., (2022).


This study has been done within project No.2018-1-0137 “EU-WATERRES: EU-integrated management system of cross-border groundwater resources and anthropogenic hazards” which benefits from a € 2.447.761 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation. The aim of the project is to promote coordinated management and integrated protection of transboundary groundwater by creating a geoinformation platform.


Flem, B., Stalsberg, L., Seither, A., 2022. Groundwater governance in international river basins - An analysis of the Norwegian-Swedish transborder area. J. Hydrol. Reg. Stud, 44, 2022, 101216.

How to cite: Flem, B. and Stalsberg, L.: International River Basin Planning Under the Water Framework Directive and the SDG indicator 6.5.2 – Case area: Norway - Sweden, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-2342,, 2023.