The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza
Chapter 6: A jurisprudential model for sustainable water resources governance
The legal arrangements for the management of water resources are currently a complex matrix of rules of various kinds, performing a diverse range of functions. These include paralegal rules in the form of statements of value, objective, outcome or principles – part of what may be described as the macro-legal system for the governance of water resources. There are also traditional legal rules in the form of statements of standards for individual conduct, behaviour or decision making – part of the micro-legal system for water resources governance. These legal arrangements may be international, regional, national or local, some applying to nation states within the international community, others applying to the regulatory agencies making decisions about water resources within nation states. Ultimately most of these legal arrangements apply to those who use and develop water resources for particular purposes and in particular locations. Rules explain how water resources should be used in particular circumstances and how decisions should be made to ensure the effective planning and regulation of water resources. The principle of sustainability has compounded the complexity of these arrangements. Increasingly, the sustainable use and development of water resources has been incorporated within the detailed rules for the governance of water resources. While the precise nature and function of sustainability within the legal system remains controversial, its influence cannot be denied. One of the doctrinal challenges facing the governance of water resources is how to incorporate sustainability within this complicated set of legal and paralegal rules.
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