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 12: Developing an institutional legal framework for sustainable regional water management in times of climate change

Marleen van Rijswick and Imelda U. Tappeiner

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


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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