Susanne Schmeier

Associate Professor in Water Law and Diplomacy


Susanne Schmeier is an Associate Professor of Water Law and Diplomacy at IHE Delft, which she joined in 2018. Her research, teaching and advisory activities focus on the legal and institutional dimensions of water resources management at both the (sub-)national and the transboundary levels, the role of agreements and river basin organizations in promoting and maintaining sustainable water resources management, the linkages between water insecurity and conflict and related entry points for water-based cooperation and negotiation processes, as well as the sustainable management of ecosystems linked to water resources (including the management of mountain eco-regions and source-to-sea approaches as well as biodiversity). Susanne Schmeier also leads the Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership.

Susanne Schmeier is affiliated with the Utrecht Center for Water, Ocean and Sea Law and the International Water Law Academy of the University of Wuhan, China, and a courtesy faculty member of the Water Resources Policy and Management (WRPM) degree program at Oregon State University. She is also a member of various international and national expert groups on topics relating to water, climate, security and cooperation and advises international organizations and river basin organizations, focusing on legal and institutional matters and negotiation support.

Prior to joining IHE Delft, Susanne Schmeier worked for 7 years for the Gesellschaft fur internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), among other functions managing GIZ’s water, energy and food security nexus project and coordinating GIZ’s transboundary water management portfolio worldwide. Previously, she also worked for a number of international and regional organizations, including the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the World Bank as well as a number of international organizations.

Susanne Schmeier holds a diploma in international relations and international law from the University of Leipzig, Germany, a PhD in transboundary water management from the Free University of Berlin and the Hertie School of Governance (HSoG) in collaboration with Oregon State University, and an LLM in Environmental Law from the University of London.



Kittikhoun, A. & Schmeier, S. (2020): Water Diplomacy and Conflict Management. The Role of River Basin Organizations, London: Routledge

Schmeier, S. (2013): Governing International Watercourses. The Contribution of River Basin Organizations to the Effective Governance of Internationally Shared Rivers and Lakes, London/New York: Routledge

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters (selected)

Schmeier, S. (2021): International Water Law Principles in Negotiations and Water Diplomacy, American Journal of International Law - AJIL Unbound, 115, 173-177

Meijer, K., Verschelling, E., van Verseveld, W., Donchyts, G., Schmeier, S. & Kwadijk, J. (2021): Fit for purpose? Rapid development of water allocation models using global data: Application for the Upper Niger Basin, Environmental Modelling & Software, 145, 105-168

Schmeier, S. (2020): Prior notification of planned measures - A way out of the no harm dilemma?, International Environmental Agreements, 20, 4, 683-698

Gupta, J. & Schmeier, S. (2020): Future proofing the principle of no significant harm, International Environmental Agreements, 20, 4, 731-747 

Milman, A., Gerlak, A., Albrecht, T., Colosimo, M., Conca, K., Kittikhoun, A., Kovacs, P., Moy, R., Schmeier, S., Wentling, K., Wrick, W., Zavadsky, I., Ziegler, J. (2020): Adressing knowlege gaps for transboundary environmental governance, Global Environmental Change, 64, 3

Zingraff-Hamed, A., Schroter, B., Schaub, R., Lepenies, R., Stein, U., Huesker, F., Meyer, C., Schleyer, C., Schmeier, S. & Pusch, M. (2020): Perception of Bottlenecks in the Implementation of the European Water Framework Directive, Water Alternatives, 13, 3, 1-26

Shubber, Z. & Schmeier, S. (2018): Anchoring water diplomacy: The legal design of river basin organizations, Klimes, M. & Neal, M. (ed.): Water Diplomacy: Bridging the Science, Policy and Practice, Special Issue of the Journal of Hydrology, 567, 114-120

Schmeier, S., Gerlak, A. & Blumstein, S. (2015): Clearing the muddy waters of shared watercourses governance: conceptualizing international River Basin Organizations, International Environmental Agreements, 16, 597-619

Schmeier, S. (2014): The Institutional Design of River Basin Organizations – Empirical Findings from around the World, International Journal of River Basin Management, 13, 1, 51-72  

Gerlak, A. & Schmeier, S. (2014): Climate Change and Transboundary Waters: A Study of Discourse in the Mekong River Commission, Journal of Environment and Development, 23, 3, 358-386

Schmeier, S. (2013): Effektives Management grenzuberschreitender Flussgebiete – die Rolle von Flussgebietskommissionen, Hydrologie und Wasserbewirtschaftung, 57, 4, 179-184

Heikkila, T., Gerlak, A., Bell, A. & Schmeier, S. (2013): Adaptation by a river basin organization: three cases of trigger and adaptive response within the Mekong River Commission, Environmental Science and Policy, 25, 1, 73-82

Schmeier, S. (2012): Navigating Cooperation beyond the Absence of Conflict: Mapping Determinants for the Effectiveness of River Basin Organizations, International Journal for Sustainable Societies, Special Issue: Water Wars in the 21st Century, 4, 1-2, 11-27

Schmeier, S. (2009): Regional Cooperation Efforts in the Mekong River Basin: Mitigating river-related security threats and promoting regional development, Austrian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 2, 2, 28-52

Book chapters (selected)

Schmeier, S. (2021): The Legal and Institutional Framework for Bsin Management across Governance Levels, Ferrier, R. & Jenkins, A. (eds.): Handbook of Catchment Management, Wiley, 309-338

Schmeier, S. (2021): The Mekong River Basin, Gupta, J. & Dellapenna, J. (eds.): Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law. Volume X: Water Law, Elgar, 255-269

Meijer, K., Schmeier, S. & Dahm, R. (2020): Conflicts and local and importated water shortages in the MENA countries, Narbone, L. (ed.): Conflicts and Natural REsources in the MENA Region and its Immediate Neighborhood, Florence: EIU, 47-62

Schmeier, S. & Zavadsky, I. (2020): Managing disagreements in European basins - What role for river basin organizations in water diplomacy, Kittikhoun, A. & Schmeier, S. (eds.): River Basin Organizations in Water Diplomacy, London: Routledge, 275-292

Grey, D., Kittikhoun, A. & Schmeier, S. (2020): Managing Tensions and Sharing Benefits - Internatioanl Rivers in Conflict and Cooperation, Kittikhoun, A. & Schmeier, S. (eds.): River Basin Organizations in Water Diplomacy, London: Routledge, 293-302

Schmeier, S. & Vogel, B. (2018): River Basin Management as a Means for Implementing Principles of International Water Resources Management – Insights from around the World, Schmutz, S. et al. (eds): Riverine Ecosystem Management: Science for governing towards a sustainable future, Berlin: Springer, 347-370

Schmeier, S. (2017): Joint institutional arrangements for transboundary waters – a comparative analysis of state practice, Rieu-Clarke, A. et al. (eds.): Routledge Handbook on Water Law and Policy, London: Routledge, 260-274

Blumstein, S. & Schmeier, S. (2017): Disputes over International Watercourses: Can River Basin Organizations make a Difference?, Dinar, A. et al. (eds): Management of Transboundary Water Resources under Scarcity: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, World Scientific Publisher, 191-236 

Gerlak, A. & Schmeier, S. (2016): River Basin Organizations and the Governance of Transboundary Watercourses, Conca, K. & Weinthal, E. (eds.): Oxford Handbook on Water Politics and Policy, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Schmeier, S. (2014): River Basin Organizations lost in Translation? Transboundary River Basin Governance between Science and Policy, Bogardi, J. et al. (eds): The Global Water System in the Anthropocene. Challenges for Science and Governance, Berlin: Springer, 369-383

Working Papers (selected)

Schmeier, S. & Verdouw, W. (2020): Financing transboundary water cooperation and basin development, Background Document for the UNECE Water Convention workstream "Financing water cooperation", Geneva: UNECE

Schmeier, S. (2018): Legal, Institutional and Financial Principles for Effective Basin Organizations, Report prepared for the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) for the 9th Biannual Global Environment Facility International Waters Conference, 3-8 November 2018, Marrakesh, Morocco

Schmeier, S. (2018): Financing Transboundary Basin Development, Background Document for the High-Level Workshop on Financing Transboundary Basin Development at the occasion of the 8th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Water Convention, 9 October 2018, Astana, Kazakhstan

Molnar, K., Cuppari, R., Schmeier, S. & Demuth, S. (2017): Preventing Conflicts, Fostering Cooperation – The many roles of water diplomacy, Berlin/Koblenz: Federal Foreign Office/International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change/International Centre for Water Cooperation (ICWC) at Stockholm International Water Institute

Pohl, B., Carius, A., Conca, K., Dabelko, G., Kramer, A., Michel, D., Schmeier, S., Swain, A. & Wolf, A. (2014): The Rise of Hydro-Diplomacy. Strengthening foreign policy for transboundary waters, Berlin: Federal Foreign Office/Adelphi

Bach H.,  Glennie P., Taylor R., Clausen T., Holzwarth F., Jensen K., Meija A. & Schmeier S. (2014): Cooperation for Water, Energy and Food Security in Transboundary Basins under Changing Climate, Mekong River Commission, Vientiane

Schmeier, S. (2011): Resilience to Climate Change Induced Challenges in the Mekong River Basin. The Role of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Washington, DC: World Bank Water Working Note, May 2011

Schmeier, S. (2010): The Organizational Structure of River Basin Organizations. Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Mekong River Commission, MRC Technical Paper, April 2010, Vientiane


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