Historically, international environmental agreements on shared transboundary waters have dealt with exploitation of natural resources like oil, minerals, forests, fisheries, shipping and trade. Presently the focus is on environmental issues relevant to conservation, restoration, protection, sustainability over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and climate change. Global assessment indicates a lack of international agreements between multiple users. A brief review of major conventions and agreements is offered with emphasis on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement on the North American Great Lakes and the European Water Framework Directive, since they appear to be ecologically sound and predominantly ecosystem-based. This article exemplifies the history behind these agreements with examples of environmental threats and consequences (eutrophication, pollution, invasive species and loss of biodiversity). It is concluded that such ecosystem-based agreements are essential for all large aquatic ecosystems shared by multiple users or countries for holistic and integrated management of aquatic resources.

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