Water is life. All living things depend on water; human society depends on water. We need water for drinking, sanitation, food security, biodiversity, sustainable development—truly everything. Even though water is necessary for life, so many of us lack access to water. Water scarcity and water pollution are worsening, all while water demand is increasing.
Whose Water? A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Rights to Freshwater (Summary Brief)
Clearly defined and legally secure freshwater tenure rights are essential to Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ livelihoods and food security, as well as to countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable development priorities and ensure climate resilience. However, the extent of the legal recognition of these rights to water remains largely unknown and unmonitored.
By engaging a broad cross-section of society, participatory approaches improve the quality and diversity of information that is available to decision-makers. Existing assumptions can be tested against different perspectives, values, and experiences. Transparency and public participation also improve governance by fostering public support for decisions and enhancing the accountability of the decision-makers.
Countries around the world are facing unprecedented challenges in finding ways to sustain water quality and ensure that growing demand for water resources can be met while preserving the integrity of their aquatic ecosystems. Water-borne and water-washed illnesses continue to be a major source of disease and mortality, particularly among children in the developing world. At the same time, access to sufficient water for domestic purposes and livelihoods continues to pose challenges for many in both rural and urban areas.
- Public participation in transboundary water management
- Strengthening legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks for fisheries co-management (Africa and Latin America)
- Building capacity to govern Morocco’s water resources
- Strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for water management in North Africa and the Middle East
- Improving methodologies for impact assessment in transboundary watercourses
- Promoting adaptive water governance
- Drafted a safe drinking water law in Armenia
- Preparing a Stakeholder Involvement Plan for th
Forthcoming in 2022: J. Troell and S. Keene. 2022. Legal Recognition of Customary Water Tenure in Sub-Saharan Africa: Unpacking the Land-Water Nexus. International Water Management Institute Research Report. IWMI: Colombo, Sri Lanka.
FAO. 2020. Unpacking Water Tenure for Improved Food Security and Sustainable Development. FAO Land and Water Discussion Paper No. 15. FAO: Rome.
Most of the laws and institutions governing water around the world — at the international, national, and local levels — are flawed in one fundamental respect: they do not account for the complexity or uncertainty inherent in water management. Yet, we live in a complex world full of uncertainty. The nonlinear nature of the hydrologic cycle is well-documented. As the debate on climate change and climate change models illustrates, it can be notoriously difficult to develop models that accurately predict the hydrologic cycle and the factors that affect it.
Water is essential for human health and well-being, sustains livelihoods, food security, and ecosystems, and is integral to economic development. Yet, an estimated 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries. While this scarcity can be physical, it is often a result of poor governance.