The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Kidd, Loretta Feris, Tumai Murombo and Alejandro Iza
Chapter 13: Using progressive realization and reasonableness to evaluate implementation lags in the South African water management reform process
Over the past decades, throughout much of the world, water management has moved away from supply-driven management, dominated by engineering and hydrological issues, towards demand-driven solutions. Along these lines, Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) has gained prominence as a powerful water management paradigm and the notion of tradable formal or administrative entitlements, known variously as permits, licences, concessions or grants, plays a prominent role. This mirrors a shift in water management from common-law legal doctrines such as the Riparian Principle to one where water is a public resource that is regulated by the state. South Africa has led the way, by undertaking a systematic shift in its water management system by adopting IWRM. The new system challenges the policies and values of the past by framing water resource management within the context of the principles of equity and sustainability, both reflected throughout the new Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and rooted in the economic, social, environmental and political circumstances of the country. These principles are strongly transformative and aim to strike a balance between the use of resources for livelihoods and protection for future generations, while promoting social equity, environmental sustainability and economic efficiency. As with any transformative policy, it will take and has taken time for the government to implement the new water management approach.
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