The Challenge of Sustainability
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
To ensure that water resources are used and developed sustainably is a challenge for the global as well as the local communities with a shared interest in these resources. The way in which water resources are managed is ultimately the responsibility of everyone within the community. The responsibilities of every person depend upon the nature of each person’s interest and its function within the system. Governance is a function that goes beyond management to include all of the arrangements – institutional, constitutional and legal – that contribute to how water resources are used and developed from all perspectives. The role performed by the law is critical. The law by itself cannot ensure sustainable water resources governance. But, in the absence of appropriate and effective legal arrangements, the sustainable use and development of water resources are unlikely to be achieved. A water resources governance system performs two essential functions: • to align the system with the hydrological cycle; • to identify clearly and unambiguously who controls water and who is responsible for the way water resources are used and developed at each and every point in the hydrological cycle. Traditionally it has been local custom and practice which have set these parameters. The wider public interest became increasingly acknowledged and made effective through centralised institutional arrangements. These frequently emerged through the legal system as rights of control incidental to rights of ownership – both public and private – of water resources and of water across the hydrological cycle. The emergence of nation states during the 16th and...