Table of Contents

Water and the Law

Water and the Law

Towards Sustainability

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza

Water and the Law examines the critical relationship between law and the management of water resources in the context of ensuring environmental sustainability. It highlights the central importance of integrated water resources management and cooperation in achieving sustainability. The book considers two broad themes: how law can contribute to the sustainability of water itself and how the law’s regulation of water can contribute to the sustainability of life – both human life as well as that of other species in their natural environment.

Chapter 5: Transboundary groundwater management: comparison between international law codification and EU water policy

Adrien Bodart

Subjects: environment, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law, water law


For that which is common to the greatest number, has the least care bestowed upon it. Everyone thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest. Aristotle, Politics, Book II, Chapter 3. Nowadays, it is common knowledge that Mankind is inflicting severe damage on the environment. It is discreetly mentioned as growing ‘human pressure’. Crises of commons, crises of water – some impacts are obvious, others are difficult to detect. Such is the case, notably, with groundwater. Long neglected by law, which is rather focused on the protection of surface waters, and still quite unrecognized, groundwater now arouses new interest. The geopolitical, socioeconomic and ecological contexts easily explain this new interest, as the fear of fresh water shortages is in many areas accompanied by the fear of conflicts which may arise. The nature of water, especially groundwater (which is most of the time invisible), does not easily fit together with the concept of State boundary. More generally, the notion of environment is separate from this political fragmentation and requires new patterns. The water issue is as wide as it is complex; it should be considered on all spatial scales – from local to global levels. Water management should respect a regional framework (in the geographical sense), which would correspond to a catchment area/an aquifer; in many cases, hydrosystems extend over territories that belong to several States. Transboundary continental surface waters have been, for a long time, the subject of the creation of bilateral/multilateral management instruments.

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