The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza
Chapter 12: Developing an institutional legal framework for sustainable regional water management in times of climate change
The availability of enough clean water for man and nature and protection against flooding are two of the toughest challenges with which society has to deal. Climate change makes this even more urgent. Ensuring human dignity and equity and the protection of ecosystems and natural resources strongly depends on appropriate water management. Besides researching several principles and concepts that have been developed to deal with water management and climate change, this contribution tries to develop an analytical legal framework for the institutional design of regional and local water management. Lessons can be learnt from other disciplines, like social and political sciences, economics, environmental sciences and public administration. Because disasters provide an opportunity to learn, adapt and improve a legal and governance system we can say that more disasters bring about more learning. A thousand years of local and regional water management in the Netherlands in which many lessons have been learned therefore seems to be an appropriate case study. Good water management should fulfil three overarching requirements. It should be legitimate, effective and resilient. Adaptation to climate change requires – among other things – adaptive water management. The most important tasks in the field of water management when it comes to adaptation to climate change are flood risk management, fresh water supply and water ecology.
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