A network analysis of transboundary water cooperation in La Plata Basin
When do countries cooperate in transboundary waters? One of the largest in the world, the La Plata Basin covers part of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. These five countries co-manage the basin through a network of legal agreements, domestic and international organizations, and cooperative projects. In this paper, we examine the network structure of cross-national water projects within this intergovernmental framework. We use exponential random graph models to analyze the processes that lead to the formation of particular network structures when organizations participate in projects designed to improve the management of natural resources in the basin. Empirical results provide evidence that: (1) the network is characterized by a considerable level of bridging capital, rather than bonding capital, with a small group of organizations capturing most of the present links in the network; and (2) organizations that are active in two or more countries – especially basin governmental organizations – are the main collaborators in projects. These findings point to the extent to which coordinated state actors dominate the La Plata Basin. Study results carry significant implications for how networks facilitate the resolution of coordination problems and the administration of common resources in transboundary waters.