Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development
Vol. 05 No. 92
Thursday, February 26 1998
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CSD INTERSESSIONAL WORKING GROUP WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 1998
Delegates to the Commission on Sustainable Developments Ad Hoc
Intersessional Working Group on Strategic Approaches to
Freshwater Management heard presentations regarding freshwater
activities in Russia and the Netherlands. Norway and Malta also
gave brief presentations. They received the Co-Chairs draft
report and considered it in regional and interest groups during
EXCHANGE OF NATIONAL EXPERIENCES ON INTEGRATED WATER MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Georgi S. Volovik discussed sustainable
water management in the Russian Federation. He explained that
water resources in Russia are exhausted, watersheds are
degrading, technical breakdowns occur more frequently, natural
disasters result in significant damage and the tension of the
social and political situation is growing. Most rivers and lakes
are highly contaminated by biological and economic activities,
the quality of surface waters rarely meet sanitary requirements,
and groundwater sources are becoming increasingly polluted. He
explained that the water use crisis originated in the
totalitarian model of the former USSR's economic system. Though
this system no longer exists, the principles of organization and
management of the water sector remain, pointing to the need to
develop and implement a new federal water management policy.
Several laws have been issued recently, indicating that a new
legislative and legal basis for regulating water relations is
developing. He emphasized that the new governmental policy in
the field of water use and protection has a humanitarian
emphasis, focusing on the protection of human life and health
and favorable environmental conditions.
He underscored that sustainable water use must feature a
correspondence of social, environmental and economic factors.
The principle goal of Russia's policy is meeting the demand of
population and industry in standard quality water with minimum
damage to the environment. The objectives are: continuous
provision of the necessary amount of quality potable water to
the population; provision to the various economic sectors of
adequate quality water; protection from hazardous effects of
floods, water erosion and droughts; and gradual rehabilitation
of water bodies to ensure favorable conditions for aquatic
organisms. Sustainable water use is a strategic goal of the
policy; however, there is a large disparity between the
proclaimed objectives and the actual situation.
He outlined basic principles of a sustainable water management
policy: a basin approach; gradual minimization of harmful
effects on water bodies; cost-effectiveness and self-financing
of water management; phase-in and comprehensive analysis of
reform implementation; and public awareness and participation.
Action programmes and plans that are being or will be
implemented include: forming social-environmental-economic
systems of river basins; supplying potable water to the
population; rehabilitating watersheds and river networks;
reconstructing basin water management complexes; and addressing
Priority directions of the policy include, inter alia:
rehabilitating and protecting water bodies and augmentating
water resources; rehabilitating and maintaining stable
environmental conditions of basins; protecting and efficiently
using water resources; improving the management regime of
reservoirs and water management systems; reducing enterprises'
water consumption and water losses; improving drinking water
quality; and establishing economic water use mechanisms. He
emphasized that water management must be based on sound science
and data, monitoring and public awareness.
He concluded that the major shortfall in water management was a
lack of comprehensive federal policy aimed at specific results.
A new water management system has not yet been established, but
there is a unique opportunity to do so now. He stated that water
management objectives should be strictly divided into those of
management and those of economic supply.
NETHERLANDS: Presenting the background to preparations for the
Fourth Netherlands Water Management Plan, Albert van der Beesen
described problems confronting a delta area where subsidence and
protection against flooding pose eternal challenges. Sixty-four
percent of the land is below sea level. He described how
policies on water quantity and water quality were brought
together in the third integrated water management plan in 1990.
He used marketing techniques when developing the fourth policy
plan, including a market plan to identify target groups and
consumption patterns. Consideration was given to social,
political and organizational questions. Two minimum conditions
were recognized: the need for a win-win situation and a fair
He said this process led to a new way to produce a policy
document: ask what people want and need; listen carefully; let
other departments contribute; show everyone what has been done;
make clear that not everyone can be pleased by the outcome. The
preparation process included an initial discussion paper
followed by meetings with stakeholder groups, distribution of a
booklet to everyone involved in the discussion, and publication
of the new water management strategy.
The main objective of the strategy is a safe and habitable
country with resilient water systems working with nature and not
against it. The document advocates living with water in a
natural way, demanding behavioral change and preparedness to
undertake cooperative problem solving. The strategy emphasizes
the relations between water, physical planning, the environment
and nature protection. An area approach is adopted,
incorporating water in urban areas via regional water systems
and oceans. Themes that receive special attention include flood
protection, water depletion, emissions and polluted aquatic
The annual costs for flood protection, water quantity and
quality management comes to almost 6 billion Guilders, funded by
self-governing water boards who receive monies from people in
their areas. For water quality, the polluter pays principle is
used. The Netherlands Development Assistance includes one
billion Guilders per annum on water-related projects overseas.
Most is spent on bilateral projects, with some going to the
UN/World Bank. The projects cover capacity building, policy
reform, cross-border issues and human resources development.
NORWAY described its integrated master plan for managing water
resources, which determines where hydroelectric power
development may be pursued. The plan calls for, inter alia, full
stakeholder participation and has made the evaluation procedure
more efficient. A new water management act will be adopted soon.
MALTA said problems related to salinity levels in its water
table have demanded the development of alternative approaches to
water supply at a high cost. Malta recently introduced pricing
policies on freshwater and sewage disposal and is conducting an
analysis of delivery systems to reduce waste.
DRAFT CO-CHAIRS REPORT
The following is a summary of the Draft Co-Chairs Report
circulated in the afternoon.
BACKGROUND: This section emphasizes the importance of integrated
planning of water resources development and management.
Provisions of Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 and related paragraphs of
the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 are
highlighted, particularly the latter's call for a CSD dialogue
KEY ISSUES FOR A PROCESS TO BE LAUNCHED BY CSD-6: This section
states that the CSD process on water should focus on: supporting
national and international action; identifying emerging issues
and gaps; building a global consensus; and promoting greater
cooperation. The dialogue should address gaps, including: lack
of awareness of freshwater resources' scope and function;
absence of links with socioeconomic development; declining
capacity to assess water resource availability and variability;
and mobilization of financial resources. It states that most
actions related to integrated water management must occur at the
local and national levels.
ACTIONS AND MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: The section notes that
policy formulation requires governments to take into account
existing conventions and programmes of action, such as on
biodiversity, desertification and climate change. Governments
should also: consider the recommendations of the Harare Expert
Group meeting; address the Noordwijk Action Programme on the
need for achieving universal access to water supplies; and
intensify the development of local and national integrated water
management plans. It also suggests a number of specific
national-level activities, including those requiring
international support, in the following areas:
Information for decision making: Governments are encouraged to
establish and maintain national and international information
and monitoring networks, promote the dissemination of
information and data and encourage harmonization. Other
suggestions address: national water-related indicators; water
quality inventories; and regional consultations on drought or
Institutions, capacity building and participation: Governments
are urged to establish national coordination mechanisms to
involve all relevant parts of governments in policy formulation.
They are urged to: improve legislative and regulatory
frameworks; strengthen institutional and human capacities at
national and local levels; and establish an enabling environment
for partnerships between public, private and community
Technology transfer and research cooperation: Governments are
encouraged to stimulate research and development cooperation,
together with the development of technologies for sustainable
water management to increase efficiency and reduce pollution.
The promotion of innovative approaches, such as Build, Operate
and Transfer, implementation of best practices, and use of
international and regional EST centers, is encouraged. Donor
countries and international organizations are urged to enhance
technical assistance programmes aimed at facilitating the choice
and acquisition of appropriate technologies.
Economics and finance: The draft notes the need to mobilize
increased financial resources, particularly in relation to
poverty eradication. Evidence that existing resources are used
optimally will help mobilize additional finance from national
and international sources. Strengthened consultative mechanisms
aimed at improving donor/recipient dialogues and transparent
subsidies closely targeted at low-income households and small
producers are proposed, as are consideration of the 20/20
initiative and analysis of the economic value of the benefits
provided by ecosystems and the cost of their degradation.
Finally, the international community is invited to consider the
creation of a special financial mechanism.
FOLLOW-UP AND ASSESSMENT
Structure of the dialogue under the auspices of the CSD:
Governments are invited to report to the CSD in 2002 regarding
national integrated water resources management policies and to
organize meetings to exchange experiences.
Action in the UN system: UN organizations, through the ACC
Subcommittee on Water Resources, are urged to develop and submit
to the CSD in 2002 a consolidated UN Guidebook on Integrated
Water Resources Management to replace existing sectoral
guidelines, and to elaborate an International Programme of
Action outlining ways and means on international support for
IN THE CORRIDORS
After their first reading of the draft Co-Chairs Report, NGO
representatives indicated that delegates at the Intersessional
have some way to go on a number of key issues. NGOs will be
looking for improvements in the following areas, among others:
acknowledgement of the special roles and responsibilities of
women, notably in developing countries, and the need to take
account of their local knowledge of water issues; the need to
integrate Local Agenda 21 strategies to ensure participatory
approaches in implementation; the centrality of ecosystem
processes; and institutional linkages with related processes
such as the UNFCCC.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
ISWG: The ISWG is expected to meet in the Trusteeship Council
room during the morning and afternoon to comment on the Co-
Chairs draft text. The French delegation is also expected to
provide information regarding the Paris Ministers meeting on
water and sustainable development scheduled for 19-21 March.