The Law and Governance of Water Resources
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The Law and Governance of Water Resources

The Challenge of Sustainability

Douglas Fisher

This path-breaking book focuses on the law and legal doctrine within the wider policy context of water resources and analyses the concept of sustainability.
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Chapter 3: Governance for Sustainable Development

Douglas Fisher


THE THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS OF GOVERNANCE (a) The Challenge of Governance for Sustainability The way water resources are managed is a matter of interest and concern for the international, national and local communities. If the challenges facing the management of water resources are to be successfully confronted, then the responses need to be local, national, international and global. The key is often said to be integration. But what is integration? It has been suggested that there are at least three aspects to integration: • the systematic consideration of the various dimensions of water – surface and groundwater, quantity and quality; • water as a system and as a component of other systems interacting with them; • the relationships between the use and development of water on the one hand and social and economic development on the other hand.1 But it is more than this. The integration of objectives – social, economic and environmental – to be effective requires institutional as well as normative, strategic and operational integration. At these three levels the questions are: • what ought to be done – normative; • what can be done – strategic; • what will be done – operational.2 It is the function of the law to establish arrangements according to which integration can be achieved in all of these ways. Not an easy task. This is particularly challenging if a further level of integration is included: namely the harmonisation of international, national and local responses. It was commented in 2004 that ‘current governance arrangements remain a crazy quilt of overlapping activities’.3 It was nevertheless suggested...

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