Part 2 - The Global Agenda –

IWRM - a Blueprint for Control 

By Marcia H. Armstrong 2012
armsrtrng@sisqtel.net
(reprint granted with attribution)

The most widely accepted definition of IWRM is that given by the Global Water Partnership: “IWRM is defined as a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems”. (Report on Progress on IWRM and Water Efficiency Plans (2008).

It is the consensus of the International community that water resources shall be managed according to the tenets of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM):

" Article 26 of the Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002 called for countries to develop Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plans by 2005.” ( The United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (UNEP) Integrated Water Resources Management in Action  WWDR3)

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes the goal of achieving ‘sustainable’ water resources management through IWRM. Land and water governance are seen as important components…” ( The United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (UNEP) Integrated Water Resources Management in Action  WWDR3)

…”it is generally accepted that to manage water resources there is no alternative to IWRM.” (IWRM for Sustainable use of Water -  Background document to the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems 2004)

"This is the rationale for the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach that has now been accepted internationally as the way forward for efficient, equitable and sustainable development and management of the world’s limited water resources and for coping with conflicting demands."( Report on Progress on IWRM and Water Efficiency Plans (2008).

Integrated approaches:…. Rio+20 should adopt a target (rather than resolution) calling for "each country to develop, by 2015, its specific targets and timeframes for preparing and implementing a programme of action and financing strategy to implement integrated water resources management plans". (Policy brief Global Water Partnership Rio+20: Water Security for Growth and Sustainability)

The platform from which Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was internationally launched is called the The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development which included the “Four Dublin Principles.” These principles were formulated at the International Conference on Water and the Environment held in Dublin Ireland in 1992. [This was in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or “Earth Summit” scheduled later that year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.]

The keynote paper at the Dublin Conference entitled Water and Sustainable Development, stated: "The real value of the concept of sustainable development is that it emphasizes that the potential - or carrying capacity- of resources should be examined first, rather than just planning [for socio-economic development] and minimizing the adverse environmental impacts later." (IWRM for Sustainable use of Water - 50 Years of international experience with the concept of integrated water management Background document to the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems.)

The Four Dublin Principles are:

(1)  Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment. Since water sustains life, effective management of water resources demands a holistic approach, linking social and economic development with protection of natural ecosystems. Effective management links land and water uses across the whole of a catchment area or groundwater aquifer.

(2) “Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policymakers at all levels. The participatory approach involves raising awareness of the importance of water among policy-makers and the general public. It means that decisions are taken at the lowest appropriate level, with full public consultation and involvement of users in the planning and implementation of water projects.

(3) “Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water. This pivotal role of women as providers and users of water and guardians of the living environment has seldom been reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of water resources. Acceptance and implementation of this principle requires positive policies to address women’s specific needs and to equip and empower women to participate at all levels in water resources programmes, including decision-making and implementation, in ways defined by them.

(4) “Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good. Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.”

Two additional sections of the Dublin Statement promoted “integrated management:”

(1)” Protecting aquatic ecosystems  -Integrated management of river basins provides the opportunity to safeguard aquatic ecosystems, and make their benefits available to society on a sustainable basis.

(2)”Resolving water conflicts -In the coming decades, management of international watersheds will greatly increase in importance. A high priority should therefore be given to the preparation and implementation of integrated management plans, endorsed by all affected governments and backed by international agreements.” (The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development)

In 1992, Agenda 21was adopted by more than 178 Governments, (including the United States – signed by President G.H.W. Bush,) at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As Agenda 21 was considered a “soft law” [i] agreement, the Senate was not required to ratify it. The most salient statements in Chapter 18, the chapter on Integrated Water Resources Management, are found at Section 18.6 and Section 18.35

“Integrated water resources management is based on the perception of water as an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource and a social and economic good, whose quantity and quality determine the nature of its utilization. To this end, water resources have to be protected, taking into account the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and the perenniality of the resource, in order to satisfy and reconcile needs for water in human activities. In developing and using water resources, priority has to be given to the satisfaction of basic needs and the safeguarding of ecosystems. Beyond these requirements, however, water users should be charged appropriately.”

Long-term development of global freshwater requires holistic management of resources and a recognition of the interconnectedness of the elements related to freshwater and freshwater quality...Many of these problems have arisen from a development model that is environmentally destructive and from a lack of public awareness and education about surface and groundwater resource protection. ... There is a widespread lack of perception of the linkages between the development, management, use and treatment of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. A preventive approach, where appropriate, is crucial to the avoiding of costly subsequent measures to rehabilitate, treat and develop new water supplies.”

UN Agenda 21, Chapter 18 ; Protection of the Quality & Supply of Freshwater Resources: Application of Integrated Approaches to the Development, Management & Use of Water Resources” details the concept, stating that integrated water resources management:

(1) Should apply to “freshwater bodies, including both surface water and groundwater”; (Section 18.3.)

(2) “Should be carried out at the level of the catchment basin or sub-basin”;(Section 18.9.)

(3) “Should incorporate environmental, economic and social considerations based on the principle of sustainability”; (Section 18.16)

(4) Should give consideration “to water quantity and quality aspects”; (Section 18.3.)

(5) Should “understand and quantify the threat of the impact of climate change on freshwater resources” and thepotential impacts of climate change on areas prone to droughts and floods”; (Section 18.84)

(6) Should maintain “ecosystem integrity, according to a management principle of preserving aquatic ecosystems, including living resources, and of effectively protecting them from any form of degradation on a drainage basin basis”; (Section 18.38)

(7) “Should Conserve and protect wetlands; (Section 18.40)

(8) Should ensure that “rural communities will have access to safe water in sufficient quantities and adequate sanitation to meet their health needs and maintain the essential qualities of their local environments”; (Section 18.73)

(9) Should be incorporated into the planning framework at the national level where response strategies to climate change are developed, reviewed and implemented; monitoring of freshwater resources, legislation, regulation and economic measures established; (Sections 18.12 and 18.90.)

(10) Should harmonize Regional Action programs with national strategies; (Section 18.12.)

(11) Should delegate government services to local authorities, private enterprises and communities; (Section 18.12.)

(12) Should utilize public participation, including women, youth, indigenous people and local communities in decision-making, particularly the enhancement of the role of women in water management policy-making and decision-making; (Section 18.9.)

(13) Should include “measures for the protection and conservation of potential sources of freshwater supply, including the inventorying of water resources, with land-use planning, forest resource utilization, protection of mountain slopes and riverbanks and other relevant development and conservation activities”; (Section 18.12)

(14) Should monitor and assess the use of water and land resources, including the identification of potential sources of freshwater supply and the “extent, dependability and quality of water resources and of the human activities that affect those resources”; (Section 18.23.)

(15) Should “identify the surface and groundwater resources that could be developed for use on a sustainable basis and other major developable water-dependent resources and, simultaneously, initiate programmes for the protection, conservation and rational use of these resources on a sustainable basis”; Section 18.39)

(16) Should take into account the “need for integration with land-use management”; (Section 18.21.)

(17) Should “put in place strategies for the environmentally sound management of freshwaters and related coastal ecosystems, including consideration of fisheries, aquaculture, animal grazing, agricultural activities and biodiversity”; (Section 18.39)

(18) Should implement “allocation decisions through demand management, pricing mechanisms and regulatory measures”; (Section 18.12.)

(19) Should “promote community ownership and rights to water-supply and sanitation facilities”; (Section 18.76)

(20) Should recognize water as a social, economic and life-sustaining “good” [commodity;] (Section 18.17)

(21) Planning should consider the various available options for charging fees to water users (domestic, urban, industrial and agricultural water-user groups) to include “opportunity costs and environmental externalities,” in recognition of water as a social and economic good; (Section 18.15.)

(22) Should reflect the “true cost” of water as an economic good – reflecting benefits investment, environmental protection, operating costs, the most valuable alternative use of water and the “ability of the communities to pay” in establishing charging mechanisms; (Section 18.16.)

(23) Should a) apply the "polluter pays" [ii] principle, where appropriate, to all kinds of sources, including on-site and off-site sanitation; and b) require “mandatory environmental impact assessment of all major water resource development projects potentially impairing water quality and aquatic ecosystems, combined with the delineation of appropriate remedial measures”; (Section 18.40)

(24) Should “introduce suitable cost-recovery mechanisms, taking into account efficiency and equity through demand management mechanisms”; (Section 18.76)

(25) Should promote “water conservation through improved water-use efficiency and wastage minimization schemes for all users, including the development of water-saving devices;” (Section 18.12.)

(26) Should establish, “biological, health, physical and chemical quality criteria for all water bodies (surface and groundwater), with a view to an ongoing improvement of water quality”; (Section 18.39)

(27) Should prevent “aquifer pollution through the regulation of toxic substances that permeate the ground and the establishment of protection zones in groundwater recharge and abstraction areas”; (Section 18.40)

(28) Should “prevent adverse effects of agricultural activities on water-quality for other social and economic activities and on wetlands, inter alia, through optimal use of on-farm input and the minimization of the use of external input in agricultural activities”; (Section 18.76)

 (29) Should, based upon the 1977 Mar del Plata Action Plan, assess and forecast the quantity and quality of water resources, in order to estimate the total quantity of water resources available and their future supply potential, to determine their current quality status, to predict possible conflicts between supply and demand and to provide a scientific database for rational water resources utilization [iii];(Section 18.24 )]

 (30) Should “improve networks to meet accepted guidelines for the provision of data on water quantity and quality for surface and groundwater, as well as relevant land-use data; (Section 18.27) and

 (31) Should include consideration of sustainable urban development. (Section18.5)

Agenda 21 recommended that all states “…adopt an integrated approach to environmentally sustainable management of water resources, including the protection of aquatic ecosystems and freshwater living resources; (Section 18.39) It gave a target of the year 2000 for all states “to have designed and initiated costed and targeted national action programmes, and to have put in place appropriate institutional structures and legal instruments”; (Section 18.6)

In 1997, at the 11th Plenary Meeting, the U.N. General Assembly Adopted  the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21  stating that there is an urgent need: (a) “To assign high priority, in accordance with specific national needs and conditions, to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated watershed management, including issues related to pollution and waste, the interrelationship between water and land, including mountains, forests, upstream and downstream users, estuarine environments, biodiversity and the preservation of aquatic ecosystems, wetlands, climate and land degradation and desertification, recognizing that subnational, national and regional approaches to fresh-water protection and consumption following a watershed basin or river basin approach offer a useful model for the protection of fresh-water supplies”;(e) …”Consideration should be given to the gradual implementation of pricing policies that are geared towards cost recovery and the equitable and efficient allocation of water, including the promotion of water conservation, in developed countries.”

In 1998, freshwater was discussed at the intergovernmental level at the sixth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development , affirming a commitment to Chapter 18 of Agenda 21. and IWRM. In 2000, the World Water Forum at the Hague issued the World Water Vision: Making Water Everybody's Business:

Executive Summary:

(Describing the future) "Secure and equitable access to and control of resources—and fair distribution of the costs and associated benefits and opportunities derived from conservation and development— will be the foundation of food and water security. Efforts to overcome sector-oriented approaches and to integrate catchment management strategies will continue to be supported by wider social and institutional changes...They will fully incorporate the value of ecosystem services in their cost benefit analysis and management."

"Reallocating water from lower- to higher-value uses. Shifting from agriculture to municipal and industrial uses—or from low-value to high-value crops—can increase the economic productivity or value of water."

 Chap. 2 The Use of Water Today

"Freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems are integral parts of the water cycle. Their protection requires careful management of the entire ecosystem. For freshwater ecosystems, this implies integrated planning and management of all land and water use activities in the basin, from headwater forests to coastal deltas."

Chap. 3 Water Futures:

" Above all, ecosystems will be protected by integrated land and water resource management basin by basin— along with full cost pricing for water services and management reforms for water delivery and wastewater disposal."

Chap. 4 Our Vision of Water and Life in 2025:

"Institutional structures, including river basin commissions and catchment committees, actively support the equitable distribution of goods and services derived from freshwater ecosystems. Both husbands and wives are members with voting rights in water user associations in farming communities. Clear property and access rights and entitlements ensure that individuals, companies, and organisations holding those rights meet their associated responsibilities. Enforcement by government regulatory agencies at the local, regional, and national levels is still important for resolving a number of conflicts, such as those between upstream and downstream users.

"Empowered communities and individuals, both women and men, regularly participate in all levels of decisionmaking on water resource management. In the United States in 2000, all states, territories, and tribes had completed unified watershed assessments. Local involvement and coordination with stakeholders was an important element in all assessments. Now more equitable conditions give local communities rights, access to, and control over land, water, and other resources. Laws, markets, and regulations increasingly recognise local people’s rights and needs, making possible the sustainable use of natural resources and reconciling livelihood needs with ecosystem functions and requirements."

In 2000, the influential IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) released a Vision for Water and Nature as an integral part of the World Water Vision.

"...In this world, more equitable distribution will bind people, societies and nations, reducing the schism between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. It envisages people-centred development that values both quality and quantity, that concentrates on equitable sharing, that recognises the need to maintain the diversity and productivity of ecosystems, and that values long-term sustainability above short-term revenue."

"Respecting the intrinsic values of ecosystems, and the benefits they provide, implies leaving water in ecosystems to maintain their functioning. This water, together with the water that is needed to meet basic human needs, is a reserve that has priority above all other water uses. Only water resources in excess of these basic needs should be thought of as “available” for allocation to other uses. ‘Water resources,’ in the broadest sense, include water in all compartments of the water cycle, together with all the living resources this water supports, such as fish, amphibians and water flora."

"To leave water in ecosystems will, in many cases, require a reduction in the total amount of water abstracted from rivers and groundwater systems. Inevitably this will require a corresponding reduction in the water demands of agriculture, industry and direct human consumption. To reduce total human water demand requires both behaviour changes, such as reduced consumption, and technical improvements in water distribution, such as improved irrigation efficiency and water supply leakage reduction."

"... Decommissioning of dams is increasingly seen as an option to bring back the proper functioning of river ecosystems. In many countries, like France, the United States and Canada, the relicensing of a dam facility provides the opportunity to improve the dam structure to allow environmentally-appropriate flows, or to decommission the dam if environmental impacts are judged too severe (Delaunay 1999)."

"Achieving sustainable use of freshwater ecosystem resources will require equity in both decisionmaking and sharing of resources. To achieve equity within and between households, communities and nations will require NGOs, governments and private companies to maintain and sometimes create efficient, representative and sustainable institutions for catchment management. These institutions will have to provide alternatives for disenfranchised individuals and communities whose security is based on access to freshwater ecosystems and whose control over these resources has eroded.”

"...To establish this process there are at least two prerequisites: firstly, an effective legal system that protects citizens against injustice should be in place and, secondly, an appropriate institutional set-up that provides equal opportunities for all parties to be informed and participate in the planning and negotiation process. In many cases, local groups will only be able to join the planning or negotiations when they are able to raise sufficient public attention and action or build a legal case that allows them to participate."

"Policies and laws at international, national, subnational and regional levels should be further developed and harmonised by governments, and possibly United Nations agencies, to enable nature conservation and more equitable water and land resource use. The entire legal framework should facilitate accountability for environmental care for both the corporate and public sectors, as well as individuals..."

In 2000, the "Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the Community action in the field of water policy" (EU Water Framework Directive) established integrated river basin management for Europe. By 2010, most of the first WFD River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) were submitted to the EC in Brussels, and were in an early stage of implementation. The Framework established a single system of water management (river basin management) for all EU countries present and future. Its ultimate objective is to achieve “good ecological and chemical status” for all Community waters by 2015. Other goals are to:

Common Implementation Strategy (CIS): By 2003, Member States (MS) were directed to identify all the river basins lying within their national territory and to assign them to individual river basin districts. River basins covering the territory of more than one MS would be assigned to an international river basin district. MS were then to designate a competent authority for the application of the rules provided for in the Framework-Directive within each river basin district.

By 2004, each MS had to produce: an analysis of the characteristics of each river basin district; a review of the impact of human activity on water; an economic analysis of water use; a register of areas requiring special protection; a survey of all bodies of water used for abstracting water for human consumption and producing more than 10 m per day or serving more than 50 persons.

By 2006, each MS was to have operational monitoring programs in place.

In 2009, management plans were to be produced for each river basin district, taking account of the results of the analyses and studies carried out. The plans cover the period 2009-2015. They shall be revised in 2015 and then every six years thereafter.

From 2010, Member States must ensure that water pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently and that the various economic sectors contribute to the recovery of the costs of water services, including those relating to the environment and resources. In order to achieve the environmental aims and to include the major economic principles, water pricing policies must reflect the following costs:

The HarmoniCOP project (Harmonising Collaborative Planning 2002 -2005) was to increase the understanding of participatory river basin management planning (RBMP) in Europe. The project's objective was to "generate practical information about participation processes in river basin management and to support the implementation of the public participation provisions of the European Water Framework Directive." Handbook on PP (Public Participation.) [This model was highlighted in the CA Water Plan Update.]

The Methods and Tools for Integrated Sustainability Assessment (MATISSE project) ended in 2008. The objective of MATISSE was "to achieve a step-wise advance in the science and application of Integrated Sustainability Assessment (ISA) of EU policies. In order to reach this objective the core activity of the MATISSE project is to improve the tool kit available for conducting Integrated Sustainability Assessments." Working papers; Integrated Sustainability Assessment: What? Why? How?; Tools for Integrated Sustainabiility Assessment: a Two-Track Approach; Developing new methods and tools for the Integrated Sustainability Assessment of water. The MATISSE project and the Ebro River Basin.; Participatory Modelling for the Integrated Sustainability Assessment of Water: the World Cellular Model and the MATISSE Project; Sustainability learning in the management of social-ecological systems; Incentives and frameworks for increasing the capital value, service value and use rates of durable goods; Modelling cultural and behavioural change in water management: An integrated, agent-based, gaming approach.; A Novel Hybrid Architecture for Agriculture and Land Use in an Integrated Modeling Framework

In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was held in Johannesburg South Africa. U.N. General Assembly resolution 55/199 directed that the Summit should focus on areas where further efforts were needed to implement Agenda 21. The General Assembly, in resolution 56/226, also encouraged new initiatives that would contribute to the full implementation of Agenda 21. Special emphasis was to be given in the areas of water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity. The United States was a participant. The following are excerpts of particular interest from the."Johannesburg Plan of Implementation"

IV.Protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development

Article 24. Human activities are having an increasing impact on the integrity of ecosystems that provide essential resources and services for human well-being and economic activities. Managing the natural resources base in a sustainable and integrated manner is essential for sustainable development. In this regard, to reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation as soon as possible, it is necessary to implement strategies which should include targets adopted at the national and, where appropriate, regional levels to protect ecosystems and to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, while strengthening regional, national and local capacities..."

(c) "Promote priority action by Governments, with the support of all stakeholders, in water management and capacity-building at the national level and, where appropriate, at the regional level, and promote and provide new and additional financial resources and innovative technologies to implement chapter 18 of Agenda 21;"

Article 26. "Develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005, with support to developing countries, through actions at all levels to:

(a) "Develop and implement national/regional strategies, plans and programmes with regard to integrated river basin, watershed and groundwater management and introduce measures to improve the efficiency of water infrastructure to reduce losses and increase recycling of water;

(b) "Employ the full range of policy instruments, including regulation, monitoring, voluntary measures, market and information-based tools, land-use management and cost recovery of water services, without cost recovery objectives becoming a barrier to access to safe water by poor people, and adopt an integrated water basin approach;

(c) "Improve the efficient use of water resources and promote their allocation among competing uses in a way that gives priority to the satisfaction of basic human needs and balances the requirement of preserving or restoring ecosystems and their functions, in particular in fragile environments, with human domestic, industrial and agriculture needs, including safeguarding drinking water quality;"

A feature of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development was the WEHAB (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity) working group. One of their products was "A Framework for Action on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management" The document introduces the concept of "ecosystem services":

"Ecosystem Services. Forests, wetlands, coastal ecosystems and so on provide essential services that contribute in numerous ways to the productive activities of rural and urban poor people, including through the generation of water, cycling of nutrients, replenishment of soil fertility and prevention of erosion. These services are public goods, [iv] providing indirect values that are not traded in the market-place but are vital to the livelihoods of all people."

The Framework talks about the relationship of IWRM to "ecosystem" management - a concept advanced by the Convention on Biological Diversity (a treaty signed by President Clinton but never ratified by the Senate.):

"The main framework for action under the CBD is the ecosystem approach, which is intended to help reach a balance of the three objectives of the Convention through the application of a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes their conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. It recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of many ecosystems. Principles and operational guidance for the ecosystem approach have been approved by the Conference of the Parties."

On 12 November, 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) adopted General Comment Number 15 (GC15), ‘The Right to Water’. Under this policy framework, national governments would have six explicit obligations:

1. Realize that people have a right to lead a life with human dignity.
2. Recognize the entitlement of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
3. Guarantee that the right to water is enjoyed without discrimination.
4. Recognize citizens’ right to seek, receive and impart information concerning water issues.
5. Agree to the government’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill its citizens’ rights to water.
6. Refrain from interference and sanction, and prevent violations by organizations of which the state is a member or which it administers.

The third World Water Forum was held at Kyoto, Japan in 2003, where IWRM concepts were detailed further. Analysis of the 3rd World Water Forum It was stated:

"That water resources are a common property resource does not imply that water services should be free of charge"

"The need to recognize explicitly access to drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right was crucial to most of the participants ... Rights to land and use of water are key determinants for people’s potential to break out of the poverty trap. When rights are redistributed or new rights are assigned, this must be done on an equitable basis, recognizing the rights of women and men."

"Users not only have the right to have access to water services, but should also participate in decisionmaking on the management of resources. User participation has become an accepted principle but this should include the sharing of power: democratic participation of citizens in elaborating and implementing water policies and projects and in managing water resources."

"Water services, as a public good, must remain in the public sector and all governments must commit to public sector delivery of water services."

"IWRM is a process of political nature where different and often opposing water related interests are considered, balanced and decided upon. ... The importance, but also the difficulty of implementation of decentralization and stakeholder participation in water management are recognized and obtaining consent of all affected people as a selection of the stakeholders to be included in the decision making processes can be very difficult and controversial."

"Government agencies need to be enabled as ‘guardians of groundwater’ – working flexibly with local stakeholders as partners in resource administration, protection and monitoring, whilst also acting on broader water resource planning and management strategies."

"'Ecosystems are not only water users, but also and equally importantly water service providers. Environmental flows, with consideration to quantity, quality and timing, are an essential component of the catchment management approach... The estimates of environmental water requirements in river basin range from 20 to 50% of the total renewable water resources. On average, at least 30% of the world’s water resources have to be kept in the environment to maintain a fair condition of freshwater ecosystems worldwide...As the sum of environment and human needs are greater than the resources available, the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to make necessary choices on water allocation priorities is pressing."

  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Water and Sciences Program has published a lengthy IWRM “tool box” summarizing the basic elements of IWRM as it has matured:  Highlights include:

Basis of IWRM: "Integrated water resources management is based on the perception of water as an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource and a social and economic good, whose quantity and quality determine the nature of its utilization. (Integrating three E`s) The IWRM approach “seeks to identify and achieve trade-offs between different management objectives, including environmental sustainability, economic efficiency and social equity." (A1.03 Climate change adaptation policies)

The Three Es: The IWRM framework, as developed by the GWP, [Global Water Partnership] consists of three Es - economic efficiency, social equity and ecosystem sustainability. The three Es are somehow in competition: a drop of water that is used for economy is not available for the ecosystem and for social needs; a drop of water kept for the benefit of an ecosystem is not available for the social needs and for the economy. How can a balance be achieved between these competing needs? The IWRM challenges to integrate these three Es: (1) Economic efficiency in water use: water must be used with maximum possible efficiency; (2) Equity: The basic right for all people to have access to water of adequate quantity and quality for the sustenance of human well-being; and (3) Environmental and ecological sustainability: The present use of the resource should be managed in a way that does not compromise use by future generations of the same resource.

National Planning: IWRM is driven by a National Water Resources Policy which “sets goals and objectives for the management of water resources at the national scale and includes policies for regions, catchments, shared or transboundary water resources, and inter-basin transfers, all within an IWRM framework. It addresses both the quantity and quality aspects of both surface and groundwater resources and also deals with delivery of water services." It integrates planning for land and water resources. National planning will enable comprehensive redevelopment of water resources policies. By considering water as a social and economic good, policies will be designed to allocate resources to where they offer the greatest value to society, starting with the fulfillment of basic needs.

Government’s role will be “as regulator, as organiser of the participatory process and as a last resort adjudicator in cases of conflict.” (A101 Preparation of a national water resources policy)

"National IWRM plans include actions necessary to develop an effective framework of policies, legislation, financing structures, capable institutions with clearly defined roles and a set of management instruments. The purpose of such framework is to effectively regulate the use, conservation and protection of the water resources, balancing requirements for broad economic development and the need to sustain ecosystems..."The emphasis here is on the process of establishing priorities and actions for integrated management of water resources. Priorities include ecosystem protection and conservation.” (C2 Plans for IWRM - Combining development options, resource use and human interaction)

National high-level “Apex Bodies”: "Apex bodies consist of a range of entities such as high level steering groups within national governments, inter-agency task forces (for specific purposes e.g. water pollution control), and international consortia for the management of water resources. The aim of such bodies is to provide structures for co-ordination between different organisations involved in water resource management.” Functions include: “Improved co-ordination of government functions through integrated plans of action”; “Structural change within government agencies to facilitate better co-ordination”; and “Creation of new departments or commissions and authorities for natural resources management, aligned to river basins and/or ecological zones.”(B1.03 National apex bodies)

Management of activities in entire basin: The intent is: "The integrated management of water resources, ideally across the entire basin."… “All human activities have environmental repercussions that impact freshwater ecosystems. This requires regulation with respect to all aspects of human impacts on water-related resources in order to take into account flow regime, water quality, land use and freshwater fauna and flora. Legislation regulating these aspects includes permits, quotas, and restrictions on harvesting methods, endangered species protection, habitat protection and regulation against invasive species.” (A2.01 Elements of Water Law)

Integration of water and land use law: "Integration of legal frameworks refers to the need for cross-sectoral inter-connectivity so as to minimize the potential conflicts between the various legal, policy and institutional frameworks that apply to the management of water resources. IWRM expresses the idea that water resources should be managed and allocated in a holistic way, coordinating and integrating all aspects of water and land management, so as to bring sustainable and equitable benefit to those dependent on the resource. This is why the legal regime for managing water has to follow an integrative approach as well; which on a practical level means the legal, policy and institutional frameworks directly or indirectly affecting water resources management (e.g. forestry, energy, industrial development, municipal water supply, agriculture and environment) should be complimentary and regard must be given to the competing needs/requirements of these different sectors in any water plan, policy, legislation or permit to use water.” (A2.03 Integrating Legal Frameworks for IWRM)

River Basin Organizations: "River basin organisations (RBOs) are specialised organisations set up by political authorities.”... “Their functions vary from water allocation, resource management and planning, to education of basin communities, to developing natural resources management strategies and programs of remediation of degraded lands and waterways. They may also play a role in consensus building, facilitation and conflict management.” Their function is “basin-wide planning to balance all user needs for water resources.” (B1.04 River basin organisations)

Role of local government: “Local governments have a variety of economic instruments available to them to influence the behaviour of their citizenry. These include rate structures and charges, fees for permits and other governmental services, special taxes and surcharges, incentives (such as bonuses and rebates) as well as fines and penalties. These economic instruments are complemented by a variety of regulatory instruments, such as by-laws, that local governments can use to influence the implementation of IWRM practices within their boundaries.”Stakeholder based initiatives, such as Local Agenda 21 planning, can play a significant role in breaking down political barriers to IWRM activities in urban areas.” (B1.10 Local authorities)

Role of Civil Society (Public)[v] "Appropriately organised, the public (civil society) can become a central partner in IWRM….For people to perform management tasks and influence overall management, they need to be organised, e.g. in water users' associations (WUAs). Other groupings include consultative groups, community groups and lobby groups….WUAs may form an "association of associations…All relevant categories of water users should be represented in the association. ..Public participation needs to be carefully managed to avoid capture by minority or particularly articulate groups; where this happens decision making becomes overly influenced by groups with limited legitimacy.” (B2.01 Participatory capacity and empowerment in civil society)

Shared Vision Planning: "Changing water practices to achieve IWRM requires changes of deeply held attitudes in individuals, institutions, professionals and social organisations within civil society” …”The key to encouraging an IWRM oriented civil society lies in the creation of shared visions, through joint diagnosis, joint creation of options, joint implementation, and joint monitoring. This itself requires broad stakeholder participation in water planning and operating decisions, and is another strong tool for encouraging such new civil orientation.” (C4 Social change instruments - Encouraging a water-oriented society)

Water Resources Assessment: "A water resources assessment involves taking a holistic view of the water resources in a given country or region related to its use by society. The assessment looks at both the quantity and quality of surface- and groundwater. It identifies the pertinent parameters of the hydrological cycle, and evaluates the water requirement of different development alternatives. The assessment pinpoints the major water resources issues and potential conflicts, their severity and social implications, as well as risks and hazards such as flood and drought. The understanding of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is an essential element of resource assessment. " (C1 Water Resources Assessment - Understanding resources and needs)

Managing Water as an Economic Good: “There is also a need for mechanisms which ensure that economic sector decision makers take water costs and sustainability into account when making production and consumption choices. The development of an institutional framework capable of integrating human systems – economic, social and political – represents a considerable challenge.” (Water is finite and vulnerable resource) “…it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price.” (Social and economic value of water;) [See also Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly  64/292. The human right to water and sanitation: 1. Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights; 108th plenary meeting 28 July 2010]

Economic Instruments : “In general, economic instruments involve the use of prices and other market-based measures to provide incentives to consumers and all water users to use water carefully, efficiently and safely. Economic instruments may offer some advantages over other tools, such as providing incentives to change behaviour, raising revenue to help finance necessary adjustments, establishing user priorities and achieving overall IWRM management objectives at least overall cost to society.” "Water pricing is an increasingly common tool applied to recover costs, to give the right incentives to users, and to protect the environment.” “Pollution charges work in an analogous way, providing a disincentive for the anti-social release of polluted wastewater.”

"The use of water for agriculture often illustrates a widespread problem that arises when water users have rights which are enshrined in law or custom, and cannot easily be revoked or amended. In such cases, the redistribution of water can sometimes be achieved by setting up markets in which rights can be traded, and holders are compensated through the market for surrendering their claims, either temporarily or permanently. Markets can also come to the aid of pollution prevention and control: the "right to pollute" within limits set by environmental regulators can be traded amongst firms, leading to abatement being achieved in the least cost manner."

"
The use of water is, however, affected not only by its own price, but also by the prices of goods and services that consume water or affect its use in other ways. These prices are often distorted, and produce wrong signals to water users. A balanced programme of reforms has to address corrections to prices in agriculture, industry and other areas that affect the use of water. Taxes and subsidies can also be used to reinforce "green" behaviour.” (C7 Economic Instruments - Using value and prices for efficiency and equity)"

Cap-net (Capacity Building for Sustainable Water Resources Management - U.N. Development Program) has an online IWRM tutorial that adds the following points:

"IWRM requires reform -Because of the existing institutional and legislative frameworks, implementing IWRM is likely to require reform at all stages in the water planning and management cycle."

"Step-by-step process -Implementation of IWRM is best done in a step-by-step process, with some changes taking place immediately and others requiring several years of planning and capacity building."

"An overall plan - An overall plan is required to envisage how the transformation can be achieved and this is likely to begin with a new water policy to reflect the principles of sustainable management of water resources. To put the policy into practice is likely to require the reform of water law and water institutions. This can be a long process and needs to involve extensive consultations with affected agencies and the public."

The UN and other international organizations have played a significant role in the development of the IWRM concept through international conferences. UN agencies assumed a leadership role in the application of IWR in international transboundary agreements between nations sharing a water body. The European Union embraced IWRM as a policy backbone in its framework directive on water. During the past several years, concepts have been added and others refined.

In 2005, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a "synthesis report" of an E-Forum organized as part of the FAO Netherlands Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems - A “New Economy” for Water for Food and Ecosystems . The report expands on the notion of PES - Payment for ecosystem services:

"The challenge is to move towards a 'new economy' for water for food and ecosystems that provides a sound mechanism to manage the values that water resources represent to societies. The basis for such a 'new economy' would be that water resources are managed in a way that reflects their values. Water policy and management decisions should reflect the economic, social and ecological value of fresh water with a given quality and in a given quantity, available in a certain place and at a certain time...Finally, a new economy, if it is to find general applicability, has to cut across different levels of water resources management: the local, national, regional and global levels."

“When water is scarce, choices have to be made on the use and allocation of these resources. These choices should take account of benefits to each user, the costs of service provision, and foregone benefits to users who do not have access to water. Although in theory market-pricing and tradable water rights can lead to an efficient allocation in a ‘new economy’ of water for food and ecosystems, the role of these instruments in water management is limited in practice. Water resources and water-related services are generally common pool resources with important public good aspects and this means that market, governance and institutional failures are likely to occur."

"Some of the market failures and practical constraints may be addressed through appropriate arrangements, but generally, “free market” solutions are rarely found in practice. Therefore, public interventions are required to ensure that water allocations, through market mechanisms or through public channels, satisfy the various demands of society as a whole..."

"Payment schemes for environmental services (PES) offer an example of a mechanism that can be applied at the catchment level to translate water values into economic incentives and financial flows. It means that upstream farmers in a catchment are financially compensated by downstream users to maintain or modify a particular land use that affects the availability and/or quality of downstream water resources"

PES schemes come with some specific requirements:

1. A clear link between downstream benefits and upstream management practices.
2. Downstream benefits that are relatively easy to translate into monetary terms and that can be ascribed to certain users (who then can pay.)
3. Downstream beneficiaries that have the ability to pay upstream farmers and landowners.
4. A legal framework and accompanying enforcement mechanisms that regulate the way in which PES schemes work and their contribution to desired outcomes.

"...results indicate that the role of market mechanisms in water resources management appears to be smaller than what was envisaged a decade years ago in the Dublin declaration and than what is stated in the more recent EU Water Framework Directive: “Member states shall ensure that by 2010 water pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently....” The E-Forum discussion clarifies that it is hard in practice to solve water problems that are essentially political in nature (income distribution, environmental sustainability, gender equity) through markets and pricing."

"In the end, the political character of water resources management means that neither analytic valuation studies nor markets can be the primary drivers of water management decisions. Due to the political character of many water-related problems, politicians and stakeholders are the ones to be responsible and take responsibility for water management decisions. They may chose to use pricing instruments or to establish markets to establish a more efficient water allocation among users, but these will then require a well-formulated legal framework that safeguards certain basic societal values, as well as the institutional arrangements to enforce this legal framework. Instead of markets, policy makers and stakeholders can also choose to use other allocation mechanisms such as a right-based approach or participatory negotiations through local stakeholder platforms. Water markets and water pricing instruments do have a role in the new economy, but for now it seems to be limited to those situations where certain (institutional) requirements are met."

In 2007, UN-Water and GWP organized the International Conference on Managing Water Resources Towards 2015. The conference resulted in development of the statement UN -Water and Global Water Partnership (GWP) Roadmapping for Advancing IWRM Processes which established various global targets.

"At the Thirteenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in 2005, all countries were called upon to accelerate the preparation of nationally-owned IWRM and water-efficiency plans...In addition, in 2006 all countries were requested by the UN Secretary General to ”report on progress on IWRM and Water Efficiency Plans” at the CSD16 in 2008, in keeping with a recommendation of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation."

(Targets for 2009):

"Enabling conditions in place - Here, the focus would be on ensuring that enabling conditions are in place, and that change processes have been initiated in accordance, with a politically supported and approved legal framework and with allocation of appropriate financing sources for management functions. To illustrate the way in which countries might monitor progress in these areas, here are some possible examples of process indicators that could be used:

"Changes in enabling environment: Revision and amendment of policies and laws; Water is mainstreamed into national development policies, strategies, plans; Allocation of appropriate and sustainable funding in national budgets.

"Changes in institutional framework: Establishment of cross-sectoral coordination frameworks; Change of ministerial and departmental mandates;  Formal involvement of stakeholder groups; Decentralization and delegation of decision making at the river basin, provincial/local and community levels; Capacity development of government staff and stakeholder groups.

"Changes in management instruments: Improvements in information management; Water resources issue assessment;  IWRM strategy and plan development; Demand management of user behaviour and water use efficiency ; Social change instruments for public awareness, mobilization and conflict mediation; Regulatory instruments and associated enforcement frameworks; Economic instruments for behavioural change."

(Targets for 2012)

"IWRM change process taking effect - Here, the focus would be on ensuring that actual implementation of change processes takes place and that changes begin to take effect in the way “water managers” at all levels deal with water. here are some possible examples of performance indicators that could be used:

"Enabling environment: New legislation and standards, institutional capacity building is taking effect; Water resources agencies are starting to administrate according to new IWRM principles

"Institutional framework:   Sector ministries are actively promoting and implementing the IWRM approach; Water use organisations and the private sector is increasingly coordinating water use in cooperation with government authorities; Awareness and management capacity is growing measurably in government and user groups.

"Management instruments: Monitoring and research programs are documenting the impacts and causes of major water issues; Transparent, coherent and consensus-based planning and strategy making is taking effect in all sectors;   Social, economic and regulatory instruments are changing inappropriate water allocations and uses; Water conflicts across the sectors are mediated through participation of appropriate stakeholder groups."

(Targets for 2015)

"Mitigating key water constraints - Here, the focus would be on reviewing the extent to which required water infrastructure has been developed and water resources management issues addressed, in accordance with the strategic goals and targets in water resources development and management plans "

In 2009, the United Nations World Water Development Report Number 3 “Water in a Changing World” dialogue paper Integrated Water Resources Management in Action incorporated the idea of "minimum flows" into IWRM:

 “Under its 2007 water policy and strategy, the UNEP2 freshwater programme promotes and assists ecosystem management to be an integral part of national and regional IWRM reform processes. Allocation of minimum flows for ecosystems (environmental flow) is strongly promoted by the IUCN3 and can be considered as a component of the IWRM framework.”  

In 2009, the influential IUCN released its paper “Rule, Reforming Water Governance” detailing a step by step approach on policy and institutional transition to the IWRM approach. The IUCN Water and Nature Initiative "Toolkit" includes elements on: Flow: the essentials of environmental flows; Change: adaptation of water resources management to climate change; Value: counting ecosystems as water infrastructure; Pay : establishing payments for watershed services; Share: managing waters across boundaries; and Negotiate: reaching agreements over water.

"Rule, Reforming Water Governance” states that: "A unified code of water law must establish water rights and fair allocations, protect water quality for human and ecosystem uses as defined by water policy, and set up an institutional water management structure." The key to national water management is to establish river basin institutions to coordinate upstream-downstream water allocations and uses. "Success requires restructuring of National, legal and institutional frameworks to ensure they are appropriate for a new paradigm in water resources management."

"Environmental Justice. This is defined as ‘An existing condition where environmental risks and hazards and investments and benefits are equally distributed with a lack of discrimination, whether direct or indirect, at any jurisdictional level; and when access to environmental investments, benefits, and natural resources are equally distributed; and when access to information, participation in decision making, and access to justice in environment-related matters are enjoyed by all." "The preamble of national water laws usually contains statements of principles relating to social equity, conservation, protection of water sources and ecosystems, and sustainable development that reflect the idea that good water management practices are underpinned by a sound balance of developmental, environmental and conservation policies and practices."

3.2.4 Water law reforms

"... a movement to review existing water laws and enact comprehensive new legislation has gained momentum since the early 1990s in reaction to global concern over scarcity of water and growing concerns over climate change. International insistence on the application of the IWRM concept and goals is an important driver of this change. Demand for broadening the scope of water law has grown to encompass goals relating to distributional equity, environmental protection, efficiency of allocation, and security of legal tenure in the face of a volatile and shrinking resource base."

3.3.1 Who owns water and who has water rights?

"Because of water’s fundamental role in sustaining life, new or reformed water policy and law should keep water rights within the public domain...These concepts range from ownership of water by the state to the state holding water ‘in trust’ for the public. In certain cases, the state has been recognized as having possession of ‘superior use’ rights. Regardless of the concept chosen, the concept of public waters makes the government the custodian of water resources and gives it both the authority to allocate water and the responsibility to protect it."

"In line with public ownership, the private rights of individuals have been relegated to being usufructuary in character. Usufruct rights are rights to the use of water resources without ownership. Replacement of the concept of private water rights with water rights conferred by government permit has produced an interface with property law, which is particularly poignant at two junctures: (a) when a reform is legislated for the first time, and (b) after the reform, if a permit-based right must be sacrificed in whole or in part to accommodate another use for water or for conservation..."

3.3.2 Allocating water to users

"A fundamental role of water law is to allocate available water resources to competing uses, whether in-stream or off-stream" ..."A transparent permit system enables the orderly allocation of a scarce resource, and provides checks and balances between the profit, or other, motivation of the permit seeker and the interest of the general public that the resource base is not depleted or contaminated beyond acceptable levels."

3.5.1 Environmental flows

"The IUCN toolkit FLOW defines an ‘environmental flow’ as the water regime provided within a river, wetland, or coastal zone to maintain ecosystems and their benefits when flows are regulated and when there are competing water uses. Environmental flows are usually different from natural flows, but they vary seasonally in volume according to the needs of ecosystems. They are determined through assessment of the impacts of changes in the volume and timing of flow on both the condition of ecosystems and river and water users..."Environmental flows are a scientific advance over the concept of ‘minimum flows’, which also appear in water law. The minimum flow is the least quantity of water required to maintain water quality and support the aquatic environment."

3.5.2 National water reserves and protected areas

"Many water laws contain provisions obligating the State to set aside national water reserves. A useful definition of ‘national reserve’ is ‘the quality and quantity of water that is required to satisfy present and future basic human needs, as well as to protect aquatic ecosystems and to secure sustainable development and use of that water resource’. Therefore water should not be extracted or used in a manner that will deplete the national reserve. Reserves are usually incorporated into water resource master plans or river/lake basin water resource plans and used in setting conditions for granting water licences."

"...establishment of protected areas to safeguard ‘any water resource, riverine habitat, watershed, wetland, environment or ecosystem at risk of depletion, contamination, extinction or disturbance from any source, including aquatic and terrestrial weeds’. These provisions include the duty to publicize the purposes of declaring such an area, its geographic boundaries, and the activities that are prohibited within it. Declaration of a protected area can trigger restrictions on water abstraction, application of pesticides or fertilizers, road construction, or crop cultivation that modifies land contours, tree felling, mining, and effluent discharge."

"Areas of scenic beauty or recreational values can be subject to special protection. The U. S. Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 declares that certain selected rivers that have remarkable scenic, recreational, geological, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or similar values, should be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."

3.5.3 Ground water protection

"Specific provisions for protection of aquifers are common in water laws"... "Laws contain especially stringent controls to safeguard against overexploitation or depletion of ground waters. This concern reflects the need for water policy and law to preserve the natural interconnection between ground water and stream water because of the severity of damage to the environment that can result from overexploitation and pollution of aquifers."

"In the context of increasing competition for ever scarcer water resources, government-administered permit systems hold the best promise across the spectrum of legal systems for the orderly arbitration of conflicting interests, and for legitimizing the environment as a ‘user’ of the resource."

4.3.3 Basin level

"Almost all recent international conferences dealing with water have advocated for the river basin as the most appropriate unit to implement water management. The United Nations Water Conference (Mar del Plata, 1977) recommended that states should consider the establishment and strengthening of river basin authorities. The International Conference on Freshwater (Bonn, 2001) noted that river basins are the most appropriate frame of reference for water resource management, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002) recommended countries adopt an integrated water basin approach."

"As shown in the IUCN toolkit VALUE, economic values can be determined for ecosystem services in watersheds. As a result, schemes can be put in place to enable beneficiaries to pay for the upkeep or restoration of ecosystem services. The IUCN toolkit PAY provides a guide to the design and application of payment schemes for watershed services."

Water in the Green Economy in Practice: Towards Rio+20, .Zaragoza, Spain, 2011 details the emerging new "green economy" trading in "ecosystem services.[vi] The Earth Summit (called "Rio+20") will take place on June 20-22, 2012. The objectives of the Summit are: "to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development; to assess progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development  and to address new and emerging challenges. The Summit will also focus on two specific themes: a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development," (which includes the role of international environmental arbitration – e.g. an International Environmental Court.)

Where we are headed:

Chapter 1 Water : On the Road to Rio 20+

"Rio+20 will focus on two themes: (1) how to build a green economy which delivers sustainable development and lifts people out of poverty; and (2) how to improve the institutional framework and international coordination for sustainable development. The emerging concept of the green economy has shaped much of the discussions in the preparation for Rio+20."

"The green economy is, simply put, the practical and operational framework that will serve to implement the three pillars of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social). The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) define a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities...articulating the details of a green economy and identifying possible pathways to get there will be a major task for the Rio+20 Summit."

"Water is the common thread that connects the three critical issues of food, energy and climate change. Sustaining economic growth is only possible if we recognise the limited capacity of ecosystems to supply the water needed for agriculture, industry, energy generation and the production of the many goods and services demanded by society. The green economy implies managing water in a way that catalyses social and economic development, whilst also safeguarding freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide."

" To reverse the degradation of freshwater ecosystems, improved governance is needed which defines property rights, incorporates the full cost of water into decision making, and allocates water to the environment."

Chapter 2- Challenges and Opportunities for Water in the Transition to a Green Economy

“Integrated approaches to water resources management are being implemented and are having impact on the ground. A recent global survey on water resources management shows that most governments have made progress with water sector reform to adopt principles of integrated management of water resources and are working through the process from policy to laws, strategies and plans...."

"Ecosystem Services - Environmental flow assessment is becoming an influential decision-support tool. Environmental flows describe the quantity and timing of water needed to sustain freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide. The implementation of policies to restore and protect environmental flows ensures the maintenance of ecosystems services which people and economies rely upon."

"Integrated management - Integration of land and water management instead of treating them as separate problems or allowing land management to drive water management.”

Chapter 4 Conference Summary. Water in the Green Economy in practice

"...By influencing individuals’ decisions, economic instruments can be used to incentivise individuals’ behaviour in order to meet the goals of the green economy. Economic instruments are not ends in themselves but means to an end. For example, water prices, subsidies and water trading are neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’ but should be adopted on the basis of their ability to contribute to specific water policy objectives, including targets related to economic efficiency, social equity and environmental preservation."

"Water trading develops as part of the evolving progress in water governance... More advanced markets might even open the possibility, as in Australia, of introducing the environment as a formal water user through the buy-back of water use rights to return water to the environment."

"...The proper recognition and valuing of the services provided by ecosystems is a central requirement for a greener economy. Watersheds provide services that are critical for sustaining human life, economies and human welfare. The capacity of watersheds to support human welfare depends on their state of conservation."

"Markets recognise the importance of some of the services of natural ecosystems, mainly those that can be converted into commodities that can be traded in formal markets (such as crops, timber or electricity). Markets can reflect the value of benefits obtained from using water or the financial cost of capital and maintenance of water and sanitation services (e.g. the use of channels, irrigation devices, distribution networks or hydropower turbines). However, the opportunity costs of the detrimental impacts of these interventions (negative externalities) have been largely neglected and because of that there has been a failure to allocate water to its most beneficial uses. The limited recognition of the value of water and ecosystem services in decision-making has led to the overabstraction of water and systemic environmental degradation...."

"Focus on Payment for Ecosystem Services - Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) provides a means to internalise the hidden benefits and costs of water use and water conservation, and a tool for financing watershed protection and conservation....Broadly defined, PES is a payment arrangement whereby beneficiaries of ecosystem services –typically those in cities downstream– pay those who engage in activities to secure the sustainable provision of those ecosystem services. Buyers and sellers will only engage in a PES scheme if it is of mutual benefit for both parties. The emergence of PES is therefore evidence of the benefits that can be derived from coordinating individuals’ actions to conserve watersheds and restore natural capital. PES is both a social arrangement to invest in natural capital and a means to agree on the distribution of the benefits from enhanced ecosystem services."

"The successful implementation of PES schemes around the world demonstrate that changes in land use practices can contribute to the restoration and conservation of watersheds. These changes can be achieved by paying farmers in an equitable manner, providing a means to improve their livelihoods whilst ensuring the sustainability of all water use in the catchment...in some countries PES may not be an option because farmers are already obliged to adopt good management practice and environmental protection by law."

"...Charges paid by water users must be set at a level that is acceptable to the water users but which still generates sufficient income to finance planned investments in environmental protection upstream; Payments to upstream land/water managers must be set at a level that is equitable and sufficient to act as an incentive to conserve natural resources (regardless of the stipulations of any contract or sanctions for non-compliance) rather than continue exploiting them unsustainably;"

"Water Planning - A major objective of water planning is to determine the desired balance between water use and water protection within an integrated water resources management framework. Successful cases of planning have shown that building governance and institutional capabilities to design and effectively implement long-term integrated water management plans can support green growth.”

"Water planning enables the coordination and alignment of the many public policies (such as land use, urban and rural development, manufacturing and energy policies) and public policy objectives (such as economic efficiency, equity, basic needs coverage or cost recovery) which influence and are influenced by water management. Water planning makes water policy a horizontal axis connecting and coordinating many individual areas of public action."

"Deciding on the objectives for a river basin is a political and not a technical exercise. Identifying tradeoffs between different objectives and decision criteria in water management (such as efficiency, fairness, financial and environmental sustainability) is key to the planning process and provides the basis for political decisions to be made over what actions to take...Participation can address and manage the many social conflicts associated with the distribution of water amongst individuals, economic uses, time and regions. Planning is a means to promote a common vision of the river basin as a collective asset. Achieving this is dependent on effective participation that fosters the perception of water as a shared asset to be conserved by mutual cooperation rather than a common pool resource to be depleted by open access and competition."

“...Green growth requires considering water management at the heart of economic public policy;...River basin planning is the foundation for designing water policy that reconciles economic growth, the enhancement of freshwater ecosystems and the creation of jobs linked to the green economy. For this reason it is a priority that all river basins throughout the world develop a River Best management Plan"

Chapter 5 The Way Forward

"UN-Water and its member agencies have a number of monitoring mechanisms that can be instrumental in monitoring performance against commitments and targets agreed upon at the Rio+20 Summit. The UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) and Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS), FAO’s global information system of water and agriculture AQUASTAT, and the UN-System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water (SEEA-Water) are prime examples of tools which could be utilised to assess the implementation of green economy policies, ensuring that governments live up to their commitments."

"Key Messages from UN-Water to Rio+20 - The integrated approach to water resources management, as defined in Agenda 21, remains relevant and must be central in strategies towards a green economy. In a recent global survey carried out by UN-Water as a contribution to the Rio+20 Summit, 80% of countries reported that they have embarked on reforms to improve the enabling environment for water resources management based on application of integrated approaches."

"Green economies can only be achieved if they are supported by green societies. Achieving sustainable development calls for enabling policies that take into account not only economic but also water-related scientific, social, educational and environmental considerations. This will foster “green societies” that promote a culture of sustainability together with a shift in behaviour and lifestyles, which would lead to sustainable consumption and production patterns."

"Economic instruments for water management in a green economy -Economic instruments (EIs) are all incentives to modify individuals’ behaviour in a predictable way such as, for example, reducing water consumption, reducing pollution loads or adopting a modern irrigation technique. There is a need to increase the use of economic instruments, enforce them and share experiences in order to improve efficiencies in water supply and sanitation services and in water use. Utilising economic instruments in water management has a number of advantages. They can (i) avoid costly investments and make the case for low-cost, non-technical measures (e.g. ecosystem services to secure water or protect against floods); (ii) generate revenues to fund water management and water-related infrastructure; (iii) align incentives and strengthen policy coherence across the board (water, energy, food, land use); and (iv) provide information on the costs of status quo, the benefits of reform, and the distribution of these costs and benefits."

"Approaches - Environmental or green taxes; Water and sanitation charges; Marginal pricing to incorporate the scarcity value of water; Fees; Subsidies; Markets and trading (of water use and pollution rights); Market based instruments such as payment of ecosystem services; Consumer driven accreditation and certification schemes; Arrangements to send scarcity signals (including trading of water and emission rights, and offset schemes); Insurance schemes; Buy-back of water use rights for the environment."

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) was founded in 1996 by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to foster integrated water resource management (IWRM.) GWP is supported financially by the United States and other countries. It has prepared various recommendations for consideration at Earth Summit (Rio+20) to be held in June, 2012.

Emerging Concept for Rio+20 Global governance structures  - A Pocket Guide to Sustainable Development Governance

 

  


ENDNOTES

[i] “Soft law” are quasi-legal instruments which do not have any legally binding force, or whose binding force is somewhat "weaker" than the binding force of traditional law,” Wikipedia]

 [ii] Polluter Pays - Regulations to force polluters to bear the real costs of their pollution Encyclopedia Britanica

 [iii]The goals of rational use include ensuring the conditions for human survival and obtaining material benefits. Also among the goals of rational use of natural resources are maximum utilization of every natural territorial complex and the prevention or maximum reduction of possible harmful consequences of production processes or other types of human activity. In addition, the rational use of natural resources is directed at maintaining and enhancing the productivity and attractiveness of nature, as well as at maintaining and regulating the economic exploitation of natural resources. Irrational use is manifested in the lowering of the quality of natural resources, in the squandering and exhaustion of resources, in the undermining of the restorative or generative powers of nature, and in the pollution of the environment and the decline of its healthful and aesthetic qualities”. - The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1979

[iv] Public goods - Also called collective goods. These are a very special class of goods which cannot practically be withheld from one individual consumer without withholding them from all (the “nonexcludability criterion”) and for which the marginal cost of an additional person consuming them, once they have been produced, is zero (the “nonrivalrous consumption” criterion). The classic example of a nearly pure public good is national defense: you cannot defend the vulnerable border regions of a country from the ravages of foreign invaders without also simultaneously defending everyone else who lives within the borders. The inability of potential providers to exclude people who refuse to pay from nevertheless consuming and benefitting from an expensive public good usually means that very many of the consumers of the good will act as free riders and choose not to help pay for its provision. Consequently private production of the good or service may prove unprofitable, and the good or service thus may not be provided at all by the free market — even though everyone might concede they would be better off with some positive level of production of the good in question. A Glossary of Political Economic Terms

 [v] Civil society: sphere of autonomous institutions, protected by the rule of law, in which men and women may conduct their business freely and independently of the state.

 [vi]  Living resources are of immense value and benefit to people. The materials and processes that ecosystems produce that are of value to people are known as “ecosystem services” and can be organized into four general categories (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005):

  • Provisioning Services, including food, water, medicines, wood, etc.
  • Regulating Services, such as climate regulation, flood suppression, disease/pest control, or water filtration, etc.
  • Cultural Services, such as aesthetic, spiritual, educational, and recreational services.

Supporting Services, such as nutrient cycling, soil formation, pollination and plant productivity, etc.