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International engagement and sharing knowledge

Australia’s approach to managing the Murray–Darling Basin’s water resources is world leading.

The Murray–Darling Basin is the largest and most complex river system in Australia. It covers one million square kilometres of south-eastern Australia, stretching across four states and one territory.

The Basin is home to 2.3 million people and unique Australian plants and animals. It also supports agriculture and other important industries.

Key facts

The MDBA shares knowledge and experience on multi-jurisdictional water management with other countries.

Australia is a leading global citizen in integrated water resource management.

The MDBA’s role is to oversee the implementation of the Basin Plan, developed and agreed in 2012 to manage the Basin as a whole connected system.

At its heart, the Basin Plan sets the amount of water that can be taken from the Basin each year, while leaving enough for Australia’s rivers, lakes and wetlands.
Providing water for the environment is a key contributor to meeting Australia’s international obligations for the protection of wetlands, biodiversity and habitats for migratory birds.

The Basin produces $22 billion worth of food and fibre every year, which is shipped around Australia and the globe.

There are 16 wetlands of international significance (Ramsar sites) providing habitat for many bird species.


The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is at the forefront of integrated water management, implementing a multi-jurisdictional plan for managing water in an over-allocated system experiencing climatic shifts. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is the Australian Government authority responsible for coordinating how the Basin’s resources are managed in a sustainable way. Established under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007, the Authority works with state government partners to oversee the implementation of Australia’s Murray–Darling Basin Plan, and to operate the River Murray.

An important role for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority is sharing the knowledge and experience gained from implementing the Basin Plan – the world’s first multi-jurisdictional water management framework – with other countries facing similar trans-border water management challenges.

As a member of the Australian Water Partnership, established by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2015, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority contributes to the Australian Government’s global leadership role in water resource management issues.

The Authority supports the Australian Government in this leadership role by maintaining international relationships through partnership agreements with other river basin organisations, such as a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mekong River Commission. This is the Murray–Darling Basin Authority longest standing international cooperative relationship, signed in 1995 and renewed for a further 5 years in 2019.

Each year the Murray–Darling Basin Authority hosts delegations and study tours with water managers and leaders from numerous countries and presents at and attends numerous international water events and forums, to share learnings on water resource management practice and policy development.

International Engagement Strategy

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority international engagement and collaboration activities are based on the principle of two-way learning: we have expertise to offer on Basin-scale water management but can always learn and develop new ideas and approaches by collaborating with others.

The International Engagement Strategy 2021–2024 guides the Authority’s international engagement activities and relationships with Australian Government and non-government partners and international collaborators. The strategy identifies the outcomes the Authority seeks from its investment in international engagement, and the priority subjects and regions it seeks collaboration opportunities. 

The benefits of knowledge sharing and staying connected and invested on an international scale allow the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to develop partnerships, promote our expertise, and build capability and continually improve by sparking innovation and testing our knowledge with our international peers.
Updated: 21 Apr 2022