Transboundary water resources, such as international river basins, pose complex and often contentious management challenges. In response to the failures associated with the state-centric approach to the governance of international waters, discussions on transboundary water resources governance over the last two decades or so have focused largely on public involvement. The need to build resilience into such governance systems has been virtually overlooked. Based on a conceptualization of transboundary water resources as complex social-ecological systems, the manuscript proposes adaptive governance as a unifying framework for informing policies aimed at promoting the conservation of transboundary water resources in an increasingly unpredictable future. The key attributes of adaptive governance satisfy the requirements for good governance of transboundary water resources, as well as preparing the coupled social-ecological system to respond to unpredictable drivers of change.