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Norway as part of International River Basin Districts

Norway consists of the whole or part of 17 river basin districts (RBDs), out of which 11 are international (IRBDs) sharing water courses with Sweden and Finland to the east. A total of 6 of the RBDs are purely Norwegian, and 5 of the IRBDs are mainly Norwegian.

A map of the Norwegian and international river basins can be viewed here.


Bilateral agreement

On 22 of May 2014, a supplementary bilateral agreement aiming at fulfilling the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) entered into force between Norway and Finland. The agreement designates the four catchments Tana, Neiden, Munkelva and Pasvik as an International River Basin District (IRBD). The purpose of the agreement is to establish a common framework to secure a stronger bilateral cooperation and coordination between the River Basin Authorities (Finnmark fylkeskommune and ELY-Centre of Lapland, which secure close links with the Norwegian-Finnish Transboundary Water Commission). The agreement covers the planning and implementation of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) and Programmes of Measures (PoM). Meetings between the two countries River Basin Authorities commenced in 2013, aiming at the production of a common Roof Report for the whole IRBD in 2015, in form of a comprehensive “executive summary” of the two national RBMPs, in order to meet the requirements of the WFD. More detailed procedures for the coordination are laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding attached to these answers.

Other cooperation arenas

The governments of the two countries established the Finnish-Norwegian Transboundary Water Commission in 1980, whose function is to act as a cooperative and liaison body between the two national governments in matters related to transboundary waters. In this capacity, it is the task of the Commission to put forward proposals, submit initiatives, and issue statements on matters pertaining to the management of the transboundary waters between Finland and Norway, the monitoring and supervision of the condition and quality of the waters, the fishing conditions in the waters, the prevention of pollution of the waters, construction in the watercourse, and the regulation of the waters. Its aim is to preserve the transboundary watercourses and their unique natural conditions. The Commission also safeguards the environmental interests of both countries and the inhabitants of the border region. The Commission has annual plenary meetings. 

Some examples of specific Norwegian-Finnish watercourse collaboration are:

(Collaboration projects concerning the Pasvik River include Russia, as they share part of the geographical area of the Pasvik catchment area).


Historically, a Norwegian-Swedish Convention on Water Courses was signed as early as in 1911.

Coordinated implementation of the WFD for the transboundary waters have been the agenda in Ministry, Agency and River Basin District level meetings since 2003, and the two countries have developed their joint management of transboundary water bodies in a pragmatic way as they advance.

A common strategy document was produced by the end of 2012, containing details on how to cooperate on the different tasks of WFD implementation. This includes coordinated work and agreement on the determination of pressures, risk and status of the shared water bodies, significant water management issues, and definition of environmental objectives, as well as coordinated monitoring programmes. The neighbouring country will be consulted as part of the consultation of the RBMPs for each RBD.

Some examples of specific projects for Norwegian-Swedish collaboration are:

In addition, the water-information in the Norwegian ”Vann-Nett” and the Swedish ”VISS” are harmonized in order for the neighboring countries to consult each other’s data, classifications ect.

Publisert: 12. mai 2014 Sist oppdatert: 08. oktober 2018