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Roundtable III - Water Governance and Policy

Background Paper: Some Comments on the Challenges Facing Water Management in Latin America
Sub-track: Water Related Decision-Making Processes
Sub-track: Water Law and Institutional Arrangements


Evan Vlachos, Professor and Associate Director, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Axel Dourojeanni, Director, Division of Natural Resources and Energy, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Santiago, Chile


Sub-track: Water Related Decision-Making Processes

Richard Hamann, Associate in Law Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Marco A. Gonzalez, Secretary General, Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development, Nicaragua

Sub-track: Water Law and Institutional Arrangements
David Getches, Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Jose A. Urrutia, Consultant on Environmental Law and Professor, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Steve S. Light, Policy Director, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Background Paper
Some Comments on the Challenge Facing Water Management in Latin America, by Axel Dourojeanni and Terence Lee, U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN/ECLAC), Santiago, Chile
Papers and Authors

Sub-track: Water Related Decision-Making Processes

1. The Need to Integrate Environmental Ethics into Environmental Science, Law, and Economics in Water Resources Decision-Making, by Donald A. Brown, Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.

2. Negotiating Collaborative Solutions in Disputes Over Water Resources, by Barbara Gray, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.

3. Rio San Juan Basin: A Case of Conflict in Management of a Bi-National, by Marco A. Gonzalez, Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development, Managua, Nicaragua.

4. Water Quality as a Top Priority for the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, by Steve Parcells, National Audubon Society, Washington, DC, USA; and Deborah Moore, Environmental Defense Fund, Oakland, California, USA

5. The World Bank - Water Resources Management Policy, by Francois-Marie Patorni, The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.

6. The Issue of Equity in International Environmental Negotiations: The Perspective of a Developing Country, by Diana Ponce-Nava, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico.

7. Integrated Conservation Planning in the Cuiabá River Basin, Mato Grosso, Brazil, by William J. Possiel, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, USA.; Adalberto Eberhardt and Angela Tresinari, Fundação Ecotrópica, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil

8. Enhanced Decision-Making, by Warren Viessman, Jr., University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Sub-track: Water Law and Institutional Arrangements

9. The Impact of Multilateral Financing on Costa Rican Water Law Institutions, by Rodrigo G. Barahona. Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (CEDARENA), San Pedro, Costa Rica

10. Legal and Institutional Aspects of Water Charges in Brazil, by Benedito P.F. Braga, Jr., Escola Politecnica da Universidad de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

11. New Instruments to Improve Water Management in México, by Jaime Collado, Mexican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA), Cuernavaca, Mexico

12. Organizational Structures for Interstate and International Coordination of Water Management, by Julio C. Fossati, Comité de Recursos Hídricos de la Cuenca del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

13. Sustainable Development and Management of Water Resources - A River Basin Approach, by Gerald M. Hansler, Delaware River Basin Commission, West Trenton, NJ, USA

14. Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans: Building the Institutional Capacity to Restore Beneficial Uses, by John H. Hartig, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

15. Integrated Water Management in Chile: An Ongoing Process, by Gustavo Manriquez and Jaime Muñoz R., General Directorate of Water, Ministry of Public Works, Santiago, Chile (presented by Carmen L. Gutierrez, Regional Director of the Ministry of Public Works, Region V, Valparaiso, Chile).

Background Paper: Some Comments on the Challenges Facing Water Management in Latin America

Axel Dourojeanni and Terence Lee1

1 Division of Natural Resources and Energy, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Casilla 179, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
A Background Paper prepared for discussion in the Roundtable III: Water Governance and Policy

The Evolution Of Water Management In Latin America

Latin America enjoys a long tradition of controlled water use for specific social ends, and water management institutions have been important in the historical development of many Latin American societies. Contemporary water management in Latin America amalgamates these traditional models and more recent attempts to introduce management concepts based on the European and North American models.

Social control of water resources in Latin America considerably predates the arrival of European colonizers in the 15th century. The control of water use in pre-Colombian societies was a significant public activity which formed a fundamental part of the socio-institutional structure. Although much of the existing social structure was destroyed, the Spanish colonizers emphasized the social control of water use, replacing pre-Colombian water management norms with methods brought from Spain based on the Roman and Moorish traditions prevalent there.

The Spanish systems remained the norm until the countries of Latin America gained independence and drafted their own constitutions. These constitutions, in general, declared water to be a public good and laid the foundation for public intervention in the management of the resource. Water management was, however, largely a function of local government.

Beginning in the 1920's and continuing for almost half a century, national single-purpose institutions became the prevailing management form. This trend continued until the advent of other influences over the organization of water management and the nature of the emerging institutions changed in the 1970's. For example, in Argentina the consolidation of federal single purpose institutions was reversed as a strong decentralization policy was adopted, transferring responsibility back to the provinces.

In other countries, however, the process of forming single purpose national institutions continues, although in some cases it is accompanied by the introduction of other modalities of water management. External influences over water management affected the evolution of policy with the reestablishment, on a much different scale, of the international and regional financial and development agencies following the second world war. The activities of these agencies reached a significant scale and level of influence by the early 1950's and accompanied a new stage of water management in Latin America.

The new, widespread adoption of organizational arrangements based on centralized single purpose institutions largely reflected the influence of the multilateral financial and technical assistance agencies, as did the use of water control projects as a means for achieving economic and social development. At the same time, the multilateral financial agencies exerted strong influences over water management through the conditions accompanying the provision of loans.

The international agencies, although they tend to be organized by sector, have strongly favored coordination and integrated river basin management. The actual practice in the region remains very different. There have been isolated applications of the concept in various countries, but with the exception of Colombia, few successful examples of integrated river basin management exist.

Even the application of the concept in water planning is not common. For example, the Mexican national water plan uses a regionalization at the highest level of aggregation which respects river basin boundaries, but the subregions used as the basic operational spatial units are defined by administrative boundaries. Moreover, even at the highest level of aggregation, some of the major basins are subdivided rather than treated as single units from source to mouth.

The Main Factors Influencing Contemporary Approaches to Water Management in the Region

Over the last decade, a series of changes have occurred in the countries of the region which have resulted in the reduction of the intervention of the state in the economy and to the increasing role of the private sector, including in some countries of the establishment of systems of private ownership of water rights.

The reform of the public sector has resulted in changes in both the management of individual uses (the management of demand) and in the management of all uses (management of supply).

a) Factors influencing the changes in the management of individual uses include:

· The need to improve the economic and financial efficiency of the management of water supply and sanitation companies, electricity companies and irrigation districts and other activities related to water use in accordance to a private enterprise.

· The increasing costs of obtaining, distributing and treating water in the constantly expanding large metropolitan areas as sources ever more distant have to be used and as the necessity to reduce pollution becomes ever more pressing.

· The conflicts that arise with the rural inhabitants and municipal governments, located in the river basins from which the water and hydroenergy is being transferred to large cities.

· The continual increase in the demand of water for irrigation and the increasing value of some agricultural products, largely for export, which need a level of technical management beyond that traditionally applied. This requires the creation of agricultural water management institutions capable of managing complex systems of water regulation, distribution and drainage.

· The explosive increase in the number of the urban poor. The majority of this population live in marginal areas subject to floods and landslides and where the provision of basic services - water, sewers, drainage - is both costly and difficult.

· Related to the above, there is an urgent need to improve the quality of life in rural areas. The development and management of water resources in rural areas is the first constraint to be overcome to achieve this goal, specially in relation with water supply and sanitation, energy and agriculture.

· A noticeable increase in the economic and financial losses from water-related natural hazards, such as droughts and floods and increasing delays in the construction of regulation works. For example, Argentina, Colombia and Peru have suffered huge energy losses through drought in recent years. Flooding has led to increasing losses from the destruction of water control systems, irrigation systems etc.

· The concern and constraint imposed by environmental laws, at international, national and even municipal level, including agreements related to the management of river basins and water resources shared by more than one country (transboundary water).

· In addition, in some countries there is an increasingly evident deterioration in hydraulic structures due to age and the lack of maintenance. In many cities the maintenance and expansion of water supply and sanitation systems has not kept place with population growth and structural changes (the construction of high buildings).

These changes demand that the policies governing the administration of each individual water use should be directed towards increasing efficiency through the adoption of better business practices as well as more advanced techniques for water management. A key point is the need to improve information systems and the capacity of reacting quickly when a problem is detected.

b) In the area of multiple water use management (supply management), there are also a number of factors inducing change towards more integrated management.

· First, the increasing competition for water, in terms of both quantity and quality, which can only be resolved through conciliating the interests of different users by integrated management. There is an increase in the multiple uses of water as well as new interests such as improving navigation, aquaculture, recreation, and control of water quality.

· A further area of competition for water is provided by the irrational expansion of human occupation of areas some of them subject to landslide and flooding or suffering from serious water shortages. This has lead to the destruction of the natural vegetation in many watersheds, reduction of the base flow and the overexploitation of groundwater among other conflicts.

· Industrial growth has contributed more and new pollutants, the use of old and new fertilizers and pesticides, the expansion of mining, the clandestine production of cocaine and the resurgence of epidemics, such as that of cholera, have surpassed the capacity of any individual water use sector to confront the pollution problem. The public health authorities, who traditionally have had responsibility for these problems, are quite incapable of managing them due to the lack of authority, resources and operational capacity.

· A further important factor is that a wider variety of water users are getting political power. For example, peoples involved in fish fanning, whether in rivers, lakes or estuaries, has produced strong new pressure for better water quality. Similarly, pressure for watershed management, mainly for erosion control, has come from the construction of reservoirs for diverse purposes.

· Extreme events - droughts, floods and landslides - have also led to users joining forces to develop control measures for their common benefit and to distribute the cost of works according to the benefits received. Such developments are still incipient, however, due to the lack of organization and financial weakness of many users.

· Surprisingly perhaps, water management is more difficult when there is a single large water user, (e.g. a mining company) with no competition for water quality or quantity. Integrated water management is more easily achieved between strong organizations in conflict.

· Concern for integrated water management is non existent in regions dominated by the so called “informal sector: illegal gold mining, using mercury, or by the production of drugs, where a number of acids and other chemicals are used, or, even where, migrant farmers slash and burn forested slopes”. (by far the most difficult areas to work are located in the head waters of the Amazon Basin and in any tropical area with very difficult access)

In addition to these factors, which directly influence the interest in integrated water management in each country, we can add external factors. These “interventions” may be national or international and can influence either the public administration or the users without forming part of the one or the other. The more important include:
· The economic, financial and environmental demands of the multi-lateral banks and the information and organizations that they request to countries in their operations.

· The work of the innumerable international organizations which both directly and indirectly have an interest in good water management. The OAS, FAO, IIMI, WMO, UNESCO, UNDRO, PAHO, ECLAC and many others have made a significant contribution to knowledge in the countries as well as to the promotion of horizontal cooperation through the formation of expert groups, networks of institutions and other means.

· International agreements on environmental matters in general, and on water matters in particular, have also had their influence. For example the recommendations of the United Nations Water Conference, the more recent Dublin Conference and UNCED as embodied in Agenda 21 as well as the “decades” related to water resources have been important steps that still supporting activities on water resources.

· Bilateral technical assistance has been very influential. Countries such as the Netherlands in drainage and land reclamation, France in groundwater and more recently in integrated river basin management, Germany in the promotion of training, Italy in watershed studies, and the United States in the training of professionals in its universities, to mention only a few examples, have assisted the diffusion of modern technology and cooperation among the professionals of the region.

· The Universities, NGO's, professional organizations, and other centers of education in both the public and private sectors have also played an important role in the promotion of the idea of integrated river basin management.

Opportunities and Constraints to Improve Water Management Practices

Recently, water management has once again attracted the attention of governments and water users after almost 10 to 15 years of serious neglect. The great majority of hydraulics works that have still being constructed were designed and financed in earlier periods. The state water administrations have been greatly reduced in personnel and resources where they have not been abolished. Policies has transferred many responsibilities on water management to private sectors and local governments without any support to assume such works.

In education and intellectual circles, water management has also been somewhat relegated to secondary importance with the emphasis on environmental quality. At the time of the first Conference on the Environment at Stockholm in 1972, only a few countries had an organized institutional system to administer water resources, forests or wildlife.

In 1972 the elaboration of national plans for water management had hardly begun and few of these have been implemented when the countries embraced the idea on environmental management. In these plans the problem of the management of water for multiple use was hardly considered.

There are few training programmes and institutions which specializes in water resources management. In contrast, there is an abundance of studies and training activities in specific areas of water resources development, mainly for the design and construction of hydraulics structures related to irrigation and drainage, water supply, hydroenergy and others. Such knowledge is easily transferred from one country to another, something that can not be said for management practices.

Without enough background in the organization for the management of individual natural resources the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have tried to incorporate, in policies and laws, conditions for “global environmental management”. In some cases Ministries of the Environment have even been created. They have tried to manage the environment on a “holistic” approach, even covering such matters as global warming and the hole in the ozone layer without having yet the conditions to manage a single resource, such as water, on a large, integrated, scale.

Only recently has it begun to be realized that the sought after sustainable development can only be achieved starting through the management of some basic natural resources such as water. Water resource management is an excellent basis to begin to integrate actions aimed at achieving environmental sustainability. In fact integrated water resources management is probably the area where Latin America has more opportunities to do something important in a short term in relation with the goals of agenda 21.

These developments in the appreciation of the environment issue, have accompanied the profound economic crisis of the 1980's and the tremendous changes introduced in the direction of both macroeconomic and microeconomic policies, with the emphasis on the role of the private sector.

This is the background which has set the range of options and created the obstacles which face the countries of the region in trying to improve their systems for water management. It is necessary to develop a general change of opinion about the alternatives which are available and on how to overcome the many obstacles still in the way. Among the managerial issues to be discussed are:

· Legislation - one of the first actions of many governments has been the revision of water legislation, adapting them in some cases to new constitutions which enshrine the right to private property. The granting by the state of water rights with the character of real property which once granted may be freely traded is a result of this approach. Chile was the first country to adopt legislation embodying this concept and other countries are now following this example. The adoption of such an approach is certainly one of the issues most under discussion at the moment.

· Privatization - the privatization of many activities related to water, such as water supply, electricity generation etc., together with the transfer to farmers of the responsibility for irrigation schemes has caused profound changes in water management systems. Some of the questions presented by this transfer are to whom will large irrigation schemes be transferred, what form of organization should be used by farmers, what will be the future role of the state in management, and what will be the source of finance for farmer operated systems?. The situation varies among countries according to their histories, but it is a region wide trend.

· Financing - Related to the privatization there is a full spectrum of studies and proposals that needs to be made in relation with financial aspects. The role of the state and the private sector needs to be clarified in relation with subsidies for the low income sector of the population in urban and rural areas, sharing of the costs of main hydraulic structures as well as for the construction of flood control devices and other protective measures.

· Organization for Multiple Use Management - the main question remains how to organize for multiple use management in each country and in each river basin or water system? The available alternatives are all questionable. Some suggest the creation of basin authorities within the public sector with authority over all users. Others propose private systems with user participation in which the state would play a secondary role. Yet others propose only that the public sector should be better coordinated in each actions.

· Organization and legislation for the management on transboundary waters. This is an aspect that still needs further consideration to.

Among the difficulties faced in the reorganization of water management has been the general political turmoil caused by the debt crisis and the consequent need for political, legal, institutional, technical, economic and even conceptual change.

In water management policy various initiatives have been stopped or modified by changes in government or have simply stagnated due to the lack of political agreement over major issues such as privatization. In many countries, the major decisions on the definition of the role of the public and private sectors are still to be taken. It is often the case that major decisions are taken in the absence of sufficient information on the part of the politicians. Decisions have been taken, in other cases, for policy reasons in ignorance of the reality of the water systems.

There are a number of draft water laws which are blocked by the need to conciliate them with the emerging environmental legislation. In some countries, e.g. Peru, the constitution itself is being reformulated so that any change in the laws relating to water have to await the outcome of the constitutional debate. Elsewhere, where water laws have been reformulated, as in Chile, the laws are under revision in the light of experience.

In respect of institutional structure, there are conflicts between the creation of river basin commissions and the regional authorities being created to decentralize government. This is especially the case when it is proposed to give the commissions more authority than the regions. There are also arguments about which Ministry should have the national water authority so that it can really have multi-sectorial jurisdiction. In addition, the debate over the role of the public and private sectors continues and there are arguments among ministries, municipalities and the private sector on who should have responsibility for a particular water body.

The technical aspects of the issues under consideration are frequently not considered in the discussions on water management. These discussions are commonly led by politicians, economists or lawyers without knowledge of the nature of hydrologic systems and in the absence of technical advisors.

There is, in general, a terrible lack of information on water quantity and quality, the flows are not frequently measured for which rights must be established. The majority of information on water users needs to be brought up to date in many countries. More complex tools, such as models permitting the joint management of surface and ground water do exist only for a few areas. The networks for the collection of hydrologic information are very weak compared with the needs, specially in mountain areas.

As we can see, there remains a tremendous task ahead in each country of Latin America and the Caribbean in the rationalization of water management. Most countries have excellent professionals working in water resources, as can be seen from the discussions in the meetings held in the region. They face, however, many challenges in their work which fall largely outside their direct competence. The work to be done has to be equal to the challenges which are coming from outside.

It is necessary to begin by evaluating what is actually happening in water management in each country before proposing any significant changes in laws or institutional structures. It is obvious that the governing political and economic ideas do not take adequate consideration of the particular characteristics of water (externalities, chance, economies of scale, ecological aspects etc.).

Secondly, it is essential that the economic and financial foundation of any proposed legal or institutional changes should be clearly identified. Economic and financial analysis which should support the viable application of the new rules are too often poor or nonexistent. There is commonly confusion as to the meaning of prices, charges, costs, taxes and other financial instruments.

Third, it is urgently necessary to give priority to the organization of good systems for integrated water management. This is especially the case for the operation and maintenance and repair of existing multiple use works and for the management, rehabilitation and conservation of water supply basins. Water quality of both surface and groundwater must receive priority attention together with protection from extreme events.

Fourth, training in multiple use water management is essential. It is necessary to reinforce the work of institutions such as CIDIAT in Venezuela, the Fundación Getulio Vargas in Brazil, INCYTH in Argentina and ESAN in el Peru which have already entered into this activity with appropriate training material. As well as, promote the formation of centers elsewhere. To this end it is necessary to agree on criteria and concepts for management and financial systems as well as on the treatment to be given to environmental considerations. Documentation is need which provides positive suggestions for integrated water management and for the financing of multiple use within river basins.

Fifth, there is an urgent need to improve cooperation among countries and institutions active in integrated water management. The existing networks need to be reinforced. It is essential that the networks have stable financing to permit them to achieve their goals of the exchange of experience and knowledge. It should be possible to obtain greater contributions from the more profitable water uses, such as drinking water supply and electricity generation to support these activities. In the past, these institutions have shown little interest, however, in integrated water management. Perhaps, this is one are where privatization might bring real change.

Some international organizations, particularly the multilateral banks, have not contributed firmly to the development of integrated multiple purpose water management. They have tended to be very much project oriented and tended to “parcel-out” water use. Even the environmental studies they demand are usually limited to individual projects. There is much room for improved collaboration by the banks in the achievement of integrated multiple use water management as well as watershed management.

Sub-track: Water Related Decision-Making Processes

The Need to Integrate Environmental Ethics into Environmental Science, Law, and Economics in Water Resources Decision-Making
Negotiating Collaborative Solutions to Disputes Over Water Resources
Rio San Juan River Basin: A Case of Conflict in Management of a Bi-National Basin
Water Quality as a Top Priority for the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development
The World Bank - Water Resources Management Policy
The Issue of Equity in International Environmental Negotiations: The Perspective of Developing Countries
Integrated Conservation Planning in the Cuiabá River Basin, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Enhanced Decision Making

The Need to Integrate Environmental Ethics into Environmental Science, Law, and Economics in Water Resources Decision-Making

Donald A. Brown1

1 Director, Bureau of Hazardous Sites and Superfund Enforcement, Office of Chief Counsel, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, 401 Chestnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 10101, USA
Introduction-A Defining Moment in History?

Are we at a dangerous defining point in human history? According to a report entitled Our Common Future prepared for the United Nations by the World Commission On Environment and Development in 1987, rapid deterioration of the global environment is threatening life on earth. This report concluded that decisive political action is needed to ensure human survival. Our Common Future identified several environmental trends that threaten “to radically alter the planet, and many species upon it, including the human species.” Environmental deterioration identified in the report included: (1) rapid loss of productive dryland that was being transformed into desert; (2) rapid loss of forests; (3) global warming caused by increases in greenhouse gases; (4) loss of the atmosphere's protective ozone shield due to industrial gases; and (5) the pollution of surface and groundwater supplies caused by the release of toxic substances.

The scientific evidence of growing environmental degradation relied upon in Our Common Future is of even greater concern because the earth's environment is exhibiting stresses at a current population of approximately 5.5 billion people. These visible signs of deterioration become even more ominous when one considers the rapid growth in population expected for our planet in the 21st century. Because population may grow to 10 billion by 2050 and between 12 and 14 billion people by the end of the next century, Our Common Future concluded that urgent and decisive political action was necessary to prevent widespread environmental destruction.

Of equal historical significance as its environmental conclusions, Our Common Future also focused world attention on the futility of separating economic development problems from environmental issues. The report explained how some forms of development eroded the environmental resources upon which they must be based, and how environmental degradation undermines economic development. For instance, development that can't afford to pay for treatment of sewage creates water pollution, and polluted water limits future development options. In addition, in many developing countries, in the absence of help from the developed world, rapid depletion of natural resources is the only hope of eradicating poverty. Thus, the report concluded that “poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems.” That is, there is no hope of solving the global environmental problems unless the international community works rapidly to resolve problems of human development throughout the world.

To solve the twin problems of environmental degradation and unacceptable development, Our Common Future called for a world political transformation that supported “sustainable development” throughout the world. Sustainable development was defined as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Our Common Future put sustainable development on the front burner throughout the world.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in June of 1992, generally known as the Earth Summit, was the largest and most ambitious international conference of all time. 110 heads of state assembled at the Earth Summit, more than any other previous international conference.²

Five documents were signed in Rio. They were: (1) The Treaty on Climate Change; (2) The Treaty on Biodiversity; (3) The Convention on Forest Principles; (4) The Rio Declaration; and (5) Agenda 21.³

Although it did not receive as much publicity in the United Slates and some parts of the world as the Treaties on Climate Change and Biodiversity, Agenda 21 may prove to be the most significant of all the Earth Summit agreements. This document is an 800 page blueprint for international action in the 21st century. It contains 40 chapters focused on solving the twin problems of environmental protection and sustainable development.

Although much was agreed to in principle in Rio in signing Agenda 21, most of the details on environmental goals and standards and commitments of the developed world to the developing world will have to be worked out in more specific treaties, conventions, laws, and institutional changes in the years ahead. Great controversy lies ahead.

There are many thorny ethical questions that the world needs to face in implementing the Earth Summit agreements. What should governments do to control population? If the developed world has created much of the existing global pollution and the developing world needs to develop its natural resources to escape from poverty, what are the obligations of developed to developing countries? What should the people of the earth do about global environmental problems when there is some evidence about environmental damages, but where there is pervasive scientific uncertainty about the nature of the danger? These are just a few of the many ethical questions that will need to be faced in implementing the Untied Nations program on environment and development.

Nothing is the same after the Earth Summit. No longer can humans assume that resources are inexhaustible and that humans are above and separate from a nature that is exclusively available for human use. The problems that must be faced in implementing Agenda 21 call into question much of the world view that has been dominant during the period of world industrialization.

Because humans are on a track that can lead to the destruction of much of life on earth, the world community is urgently challenged to develop an ethic that will not only recognize the duties that people have to care for other humans, but also to future generations and other forms of life with which we share this planet.

Some have argued that because of the urgency of the need for political and personal transformation to avert widespread environmental destruction in the next century, only a radical change in values can bring about the behavioral change needed to protect life on earth. As a result, calls for a new 'environmental or sustainable development ethic' have been growing. These calls have come recently from mainstream religious, political, and scientific organizations.

Some religious leaders have argued that only a truly religious transformation can bring about the needed shift in behavior; a cosmological paradigm shift which enables humans to see themselves as part of, rather than above, the web of life. They argue that such a change in vision, is necessary to allow the world and its plants and animals to become re-enchanted; to restore a sense of the sacred in nature that was lost during the industrialization period of human history.

In addition, many environmental organizations have called for a new environmental ethic. For instance, the World Conservation Union, has recently urged the adoption of a set of morally compelling principles to guide human action.4 If the world is going to develop a sustainable development ethic, the world will need the leadership and collaboration of artists, poets, scientists, and men and women concerned about the global environmental crisis. Most importantly, the developed world needs to learn from the wisdom of those cultures that have never lost their deep and sacred respect for life on earth.

The Need to Examine Sustainable Development Ethical Questions Embedded In Day-to Day Practices

There are several reasons, however, to be concerned about putting the world's hopes exclusively in the call for creation of a new sustainable ethic that will guide the day-to-day practices of human life.

First, such calls for a new sustainable ethic sometimes seem to assume that an ethic can be created by simply calling for its creation, without understanding how ethical positions arise out of existing social practices and needs or within existing ethical belief systems.5 For example, because any person struggling to survive is likely to be influenced in his or her view of 'right' or 'wrong' from the day-to-day forces against which he or she must struggle, no simple call for a sustainable living ethic is likely to be greatly influential until dire threats to survival are eliminated.

Second, Agenda 21 is expected to be largely implemented by national and local governments that translate the general principles of Agenda 21 into specific programs and laws. The most likely response of these governments is to assign these laws and programs to government agencies staffed largely by engineers, scientists, lawyers, economists, and other experts who are expected to implement laws and “manage” sustainability problems. Government experts will use the languages of science, economics, and law to frame the public policy questions that must be faced in implementing Agenda 21. Because a sustainable development ethic will surely create considerable conflict between those persons who are deriving a living from unsustainable practices and laws which limit or prohibit the unsustainable behavior, there will be even greater pressure on national political leaders to look to scientists and other experts to define which human behaviors or activities are unsustainable. In fact, evidence of this increasing need to rely on complex scientific, legal, and economic procedures and analyses is apparent in many sections of Agenda 21. For example, Agenda 21 expressly calls for the use of such complex scientific procedures as toxicological risk assessment as the appropriate tool for determining which hazardous substances are harmful, and calls for the use of biotechnology to solve food scarcity problems.

If the policy languages of science, economics, and law are not ethically neutral or if important ethical positions are often hidden in scientific, economic, and legal languages, it is critically important that the ethical dimensions of science, economics, and law be understood in implementing Agenda 21.

Science and Sustainable Development Ethics

In the last few decades scientists have been making great contributions to our understanding of global environmental problems. For instance, it is inconceivable that the developed world would have made as much progress on controlling water pollution if scientists did not warn us about the dangers posed by certain pollutants and devise treatment schemes that remove some of those pollutants. The world clearly needs to increase scientific understanding of threats to water pollution problems. However, the ethical limitations and implications of our scientific tools must be understood.

In day-to-day environmental decision-making, environmental protection controversies are often thought of as technical-instrumental problems. To solve such problems scientists or other technically trained personnel use scientific procedures to develop the “facts” about a particular environmental danger and describe measures that can be taken to prevent or remediate environmental degradation. For example, if water pollution is viewed primarily as a technical-instrumental problem, science needs to determine what is the ecological significance of the contamination to human and environmental receptors (a question of scientific fact) and if so, what steps can be taken to mitigate against any adverse environmental effects (an instrumental question of means). Since these questions are about “facts” and “means”, according to prevailing conventional wisdom, they are best answered by experts who use value-neutral scientific procedures as analytical tools to find answers.6

Conversely, environmental protection issues can be understood as problems that most fundamentally raise ethical questions, questions about what is the “right” thing to do. For example, which environmental amenities “should” we protect or what “should” we do in respect to the environment when the technical “facts” about consequences are uncertain? Under an ethical lens, the most important questions about water pollution might be: (1) What “should” we do about certain types of water pollution before science can specify consequences with certainty?; or, (2) What is this generation's duty to the future generations or non-human species to prevent degradation of water resources?

Of course, environmental problems usually raise both complex technical-instrumental questions and thorny ethical questions. However, if we allow technical-instrumental discourse to dominate our environmental and development decision-making discussions several consequences follow.

First, positions taken by decision-makers that are justified on scientific grounds but have actually been based on the values of the decision-makers appear to be compelled by “neutral” technical reasoning and therefore are not subject to public scrutiny. Thus, the values of those nations or institutions that command technical resources can determine the nature of action that needs to be taken and make it appear that this action is compelled by scientific reasoning. Because technical expertise is very expensive, only those that can afford to pay technical experts can participate in the public policy discourse. Therefore, if technical discourse is allowed to dominate public policy decisions, those who do not have large financial assets may be effectively disenfranchised from discussing matters that should be understood to be moral or political in nature.

Second, political action initiated to protect the environment before science can describe precise cause and effect relationships between a proposed action and its effect on the environment can be attacked as irrational because it is without a scientific basis that compels action. Because the Earth Summit has acknowledged that governments must be sensitive to the economic and developmental consequences of environmental decision-making, there is likely to be increased pressure on decision makers to withhold government environmental action that retards development in situations lacking a strong scientific factual basis. Therefore, if we let neutral scientific language dominate our discourses on sustainable living problems after the Earth Summit, we are likely to see less environmentally protective government action.

Although some environmental problems are well understood by scientists, many are not. Environmental decisions must often be made in situations of pervasive scientific uncertainty7. That is so because scientists must often rely on theoretical models of the way the world works to make environmental decisions. Because extreme degrees of complexity characterize ecological systems, attempts to quantitatively predict the consequences of many human activities on global, regional or local environmental systems or to model even the simplest of ecosystems have not met with success. Environmental models are fraught with uncertainty either because the mathematical relationship between “real-world” variables described in the model is not known or because the data needed to run or test the model is difficult or impossible to obtain. Environmental models therefore suffer from two kinds of uncertainty: (1) theoretical uncertainty, and (2) informational uncertainty. As a result environmental science, and in particular the field of ecology, is much, much softer than many people realize.

If the world waits until the scientific proof is in, the world is making an ethical judgement that favors the status quo. Because scientists are taught to be silent in absence of sound scientific proof, if there is urgent need to take action to prevent environmental destruction where scientific proof is not conclusive, scientific norms may be inconsistent with a ethical principles. Thus the scientific norm that a scientist refrain from speculation in the absence of proof may conflict with the public policy need to protect the environment for future generations.

Third, because scientific ways of looking at environmental issues are understood to describe the environment through “value-neutral” scientific methodology, scientific methods are understood to see the environment “objectively” without the distortion that comes from the biases of the analyst. Scientific discourse, therefore, being understood by many as value-free and objective, can unconsciously lead to the devaluation of environmental positions of those who don't share the same metaphysical mechanistic assumptions of the scientist or those who value the environment for more subjective reasons. For example, because there are no “objective” criteria for beauty and ugliness, someone who believes that the flow of a water fall should be maintained at its existing rate because of its beauty may not be represented in a discussion which is limited to “objective” scientific language. Therefore, if government officials limit future discussions on sustainable living problems to discussions about scientific “facts,” then those decision-makers may devalue the position of those who believe that environmental entities should be protected for reasons not cognizable in scientific calculations.

For these reasons, the ethical implications of our scientific discourses must be understood and integrated into sustainable development decision making. If scientific discourse is allowed to dominate the public policy discussions about environmental problems after the Earth Summit, there will be expanded opportunities for obstructive behavior for those who oppose government action.

Because scientists have been taught to exclude values discourse from their scientific endeavors, the twin problems of environment and development recognized by Agenda 21 ironically create pressures for greater use and reliance on tools that are usually understood to be “value-neutral” tools that have a built in tendency to see the world and its creatures as sets of mathematically described interacting forces. Therefore, although many argue that a shift in consciousness that re-enchants the world is necessary to survival of life on earth, the human race has managed to create problems that will most likely be described by tools that depend upon even greater demystification of the world. For this reason alone, it is imperative that the ethical implications and limitations of the scientific tools that will be used by decision makers to implement Agenda 21 are understood.

Law and Sustainable Development Ethics

How does the law fit into day-to-day environmental problem solving scheme? According to the model followed in much of the developed world, government agencies staffed largely by technical experts breaks down environmental problems into an “objective” technical problem and a “subjective” policy component.8 In developing the policy component the administrator looks at the guidance contained in the law and then applies the “objective” technical facts to the decision rule found in the law. In this way, government technicians apply scientifically derived “facts” to politically derived rules.

This analysis leads to the conclusion that the government must turn to the law to determine the applicable ethical rule to be applied to sustainability decision-making. A closer analysis of most environmental laws, however, reveals that the ethical rules contained in many environmental laws are notoriously vague. A relevant example in the United States is the National Environmental Policy Act or “NEPA.” NEPA clearly is law which articulates environmental policy goals which have a distinctly ethical character, because the goals of NEPA state that its purpose is to establish a harmonious relation between humans and the environment.9 NEPA is thus understood to be a law which incorporates an ethically based environmental approach to federal decision-making.

However, the exact nature of the environmental ethical approach embedded in NEPA is ambiguous because the goals also include words or phrases which seem to recognize the need to balance environmental concerns with the need to meet “social and economic requirements of present and future generations” and the requirement to use all “practical” means and measures to create and maintain conditions where man and nature can exist in productive harmony.

Because of this ambiguity, NEPA is capable of many interpretations. These include interpretations which assert that the NEPA requires that: (1) Environmental values take priority over economic values; (2) Environmental values should be considered and allocated efficiently with other values including economic considerations (that is, NEPA should be understood to correct market failures to include environmental values); and (3) NEPA forces technology and science to develop in appropriate ways so that there is no conflict between environmental protection and a high standard of living.10

It is therefore apparent that NEPA fails to answer some of the hard ethical questions that are posed by the potential conflict between human economic interests and environmental protection considerations and therefore does not create a clear prescriptive rule for the government to follow in applying the “facts” of any individual controversy and in making a decision. In addition, most environmental laws require a finding of environmental harm as a factual prerequisite before taking protective regulatory action.11 When environmental science is uncertain about the environmental consequences of human action, insisting on high levels of scientific proof before government action may be taken is a prescriptive rule that puts the burden of proof on government decision-makers and privileges the status quo. Such a rule may prevent protective government action where there is a reasonable basis for concern but where science is uncertain about the consequences of certain human activities. The Water Pollution Control Act was passed in 1972 that required the states in the United States to develop effluent limitations developed from in stream water quality standards, if technology based standards are not sufficiently protective of in stream uses of the water. Now, 21 years later Pennsylvania and other states have yet to develop water quality based effluent limitations because the in stream models are in capable of withstanding legal attacks. The standard of proof that should be required of regulatory action is an ethical question, not a scientific question. If we let scientific standards dominate legal institutions we are making ethical choices that may be inconsistent with ethical choices legislators think they have established.

Economics and Sustainable Development Ethics

When government technical experts recognize that particular value questions have to be considered in environmental decision making, the values are usually discussed in terms of economic considerations, in terms of costs and benefits and efficient markets. Although economics, as social science, may be a valid attempt to describe and predict what will happen economically within a society if it chooses certain economic behaviors, many economists do not hesitate to make prescriptive statements about economic behavior. Many economists, for example, assert that the option that makes the most efficient use of resources ought to be the preferred option. Once an economist makes an “ought” statement, however, he or she is tacitly assuming some ethical position. When such recommendations are made, economists are choosing one ethical approach over others, and that approach is most often some form of utilitarianism. The underlying assumption of utilitarianism is that an option should be chosen that creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Since an efficient market maximizes happiness by satisfying the greatest number of individual preferences, the economist usually asserts that the option which maximizes the efficiency of the market place is the “optimal” solution. This is a utilitarian formulation of the good.12 It is a different formulation than other ethical formulations, and to the extent that the value assumption is not identified and remains hidden, the ethical basis for the final decision is never exposed, and other viable approaches are completely ignored.

The utilitarian approach raises additional ethical problems that cannot easily be answered from within a utilitarian system.13 A utilitarian, for instance, must decide which alternatives will be entertained in the utilitarian calculus, which consequences of a given action will be considered, whose assessments of harms and benefits will be allowed, and what time scale will be used in assessing those consequences. The utilitarian framework, therefore, often rests upon imprecise judgments independent of, and prior to, the utility calculus itself.

Utilitarian methodology, moreover, cannot easily accommodate the rights individuals may have either to be protected from certain pollutants or to be spared from death-threatening situations. Most contemporary philosophers hold that utilitarian approaches must be supplemented by other ethical approaches, such as those that stress such concepts as rights, justice, and due process as fundamental. The utilitarian approach often assumes that various questions can be reduced to a quantifiable amount. Quantification of environmental or health benefits, however, is often difficult and sometimes impossible. For instance, what is the value of human life? Even if the problem of quantification can be solved, utilitarianism is still incapable of answering how benefits or costs should be distributed among potential losers and winners.14 As a result, most commentators agree that a utilitarian analyses must be supplemented by concepts of distributive justice.

Moreover, utilitarian approaches also usually make human interests, as opposed to plants and animal interests, the center of value. Such an approach may be inconsistent with ethical systems which strive to value plants and animals without regard to their use to humans.

Although more sophisticated utilitarian approaches are capable of dealing with some of the problems mentioned above, all too frequently the value analysis one actually finds in the environmental public policy debates are oversimplified utilitarian calculations that more sophisticated utilitarians would likely reject.


Most of the nations at the Earth Summit appear to have agreed that international action is urgently needed to diminish the extraordinarily serious threats entailed by various global environmental problems including threats to water resources. Because the poverty of the developing world must be tackled to solve these global environmental problems, international action must include assistance to the developing world so that it may achieve environmentally sustainable development. The nations of the earth are now faced with developing laws, treaties, and programs that will reconcile the sometimes competing objectives of environmental protection and development. If the nations of the earth are going to solve these problems, we must learn to integrate ethical discourse into the policy languages of science, law and economics.

Reference Notes

2. American Bar Association, Environmental Law, Vol. 11, No. 4, Summer 1992.

3. For a helpful summary of these documents see. Environmental Law, supra; also see, IOS Press, Environmental Law and Policy. August 1992.

4. The World Conservation Union, Caring for the Earth, (Gland. Switzerland, 1991)

5. For an excellent discussion of the practice bound nature of ethics, see, Grove-White and Szerszynski, Getting Behind Environmental Ethics, 1 Environmental Values, 285.

6. Many philosophers of science would argue that science can never be “value-free” for several reasons including the fact that a scientist must always make choices of what to study.

7. For a discussion of scientific uncertainty in environmental decision-making see, J. Dryzek, Rational Ecology, (New York, Basil Blackwell, 1987)

8. See, generally, D. Brown, Ethics, Science and Environmental Regulation, 9 Envtl. Ethics 331 (1987).

9. Mark Sagoff, “ NEPA: Ethics, Economics, and Science in Environmental Law” in Law of Environmental Protection, Sheldon Novick, Ed. (New York, Clark Boardman Co. Ltd., 1987)

10. Id. p. 9-50 to 9-51.

11. Id.

12. For a discussion of economic theory and utilitarian ethics see Mark Sagoff, “At The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima or Why Political Questions Are Not All Economic,” Arizona Law Review 23 (1981): 1283-98, and “Economic Theory and Environmental Law,” Michigan Law Review 79 (1981): 1393-419.

13. See Alasdair MacIntyre, “Utilitarianism and Cost/Benefit Analysis: An Essay on the Relevance of Moral Philosophy to Bureaucratic Theory,” in K. M. Sayre, et al., Values in the Electric Power Industry (Noire Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977).

14. See David Harrison, Jr., and Paul R. Partner, “Who Loses From Reform of Environmental Regulation,” in Wesley A. Magat, ed., Reform of Environmental Regulation (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing, 1982).

Negotiating Collaborative Solutions to Disputes Over Water Resources

Barbara Gray1

1 Center for Research in Conflict and Negotiation, The Pennsylvania State University, 408 Beam Business Administration Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Phone (814) 865-0197
All the talk about sustainable development creates a hopefulness about the possibility that as a planet we can reach agreements about balancing economic growth and environmental preservation. But talk is cheap. Many experiences with regional plans for sustainable development fall short of their forecasted results (Forman, 1989; Bosso, 1988; Gray & Hay, 1985). Yet the need for arriving at timely and widely-supported solutions to environmental problems at regional and global levels only increases (WCED, 1987; UNEP, 1989). Should we pessimistic or optimistic?

Considerable evidence from the practice of alternative dispute resolution creates a basis for some realistic optimism.

Evidence of successful collaborative efforts to address sticky, adversarial, environmental issues of all kinds is mounting daily - clearly not fast enough to address all the problems-but nonetheless, convincingly. While much of the experience is from the U.S. (Bingham, 1986; Crowfoot & Wondolleck, 1988; Clark, Bingham & Orenstein, 1991), evidence of successful environmental dispute resolution addressing a wide range of environmental disputes, including those over water rights, water conservation, and water pollution, is mounting from all four quadrants of the earth (Trolldalen, 1992; Synergos, 1993).

Collaborative solutions involve all groups with a stake in the problem in the process of resolving the dispute. Gray (1989, p. 11) identified five features of collaboration. They include: (1) interdependent stakeholders, (2) constructive management of differences among the parties, (3) joint ownership of decisions, (4) collective responsibility for carrying out the agreements, and (5) emergent decisions. Thus, collaborating represents a process of identifying and solving problems collectively by the parties involved. This, however, may prove to be extremely problematic since disputes over water resources are often protracted and bitter, pitting long-standing adversaries against each other. Moreover, water disputes typically involve multiple stakeholders-ranging from farmers, ranchers, and fishing interests, to government agencies, to manufacturing and natural resource industries, to environmental interest groups and non-governmental organizations concerned about economic development. These groups often have wide-ranging agenda that, taken collectively, complexity decision making (dark et al., 1991). Additionally, they often involve significant technical challenges that rival the difficulties of bringing warring parties to the table. Thus, launching a collaborative process to generate integrative solutions to satisfy the needs of diverse stakeholders requires considerable finesse and skill.

Theoretically, collaborating occurs in three phases. The first of these has been called problem setting (McCann, 1983; Gray, 1989) because one of the principle tasks is to collectively define the problem to be solved and the scope at which it will be addressed. Table 1 identifies several issues that constitute this first phase of collaborating.

Organizing a forum within which stakeholders can seek a collaborative solution is a major task of the problem setting phase for those who initiate a collaboration. Parties who have a stake need to be identified and persuaded to participate in a collaborative process (as opposed to relying on litigation or protest or other political tactics) to solve the problem. These and other difficult issues arise and must be addressed before the parties can begin to negotiate about possible solutions to the problem. In international disputes, additional problem setting issues revolve around jurisdictional issues such as sovereignty and property rights for the global commons (Golich & Young, 1993; Soros, 1986; Sebenius, 1992).

Another critical issue in problem setting is who will serve as a convener for the collaboration (Gray, 1989). The convener may be, but need not be, a stakeholder in the problem. The task of the convener is to identity and bring all the legitimate stakeholders to the negotiating table. This requires that the convener have some convening power, or clout - that is, the ability to induce the participation of others. Wood and Gray (1991, p. 152) identified four dominant modes of convening. These differ according to the convener's influence (whether it is formal or informal) and the type of intervention strategy they employ (responsive or proactive). Responsive conveners initiate the collaboration at the request of certain stakeholders. Proactive conveners attempt to organize the stakeholders on their own initiative. See Figure 1. Experiences with different forms of convening will be described further below under what we have learned.

Figure 1. Dominant Mode and Central Attribute of Conveners

Convener Has What Type of Influence:



Source of Intervention into the Problem Domain

Requested by Stakeholders (Responsive)



Convener is perceived as fair.

Convener is trusted.

Initiated by Convener (Proactive)



Convener is powerful.

Convener is credible.

The second phase of collaborating is called direction setting. During the direction setting phase, negotiations over the substantive problem take place. This phase involves identification of all the parties interests, search for common interests, generation of alternative solutions, and reaching agreement on one. Table 2 outlines the critical issues that arise during direction setting. Typically, in environmental disputes, it becomes necessary to deal with highly technical, frequently controversial information (about expected levels of risk or projected mitigation effects). In these cases it may be necessary for participants to make joint site visits to ensure common understanding of the issues. Joint data collection efforts of this type have proven to be extremely useful in broadening the perspectives of each side and in building rapport among the parties (Gray, 1989; Gray, 1993). When technical issues are particularly sophisticated, it may be necessary to contract with a neutral expert or convene a panel of experts to help the collaborative partners interpret the scientific information.

The final phase, implementation, begins as soon as the agreement is reached. Often times, what appears to be a deal, needs to be modified or amended to satisfy the negotiator's constituents or because unexpected events occur after the deal has been struck. Additionally, amassing the necessary resources and personnel to carry out the agreements may take some time and require the creation of a new governance mechanism to implement or monitor the agreement. Table 3 indicates a range of issues that may need to be addressed during the implementation phase.

Collaboration in Action

The number of examples of successful collaborations to address water-related problems is growing. These can be classified by the nature of the conflict or problem:

Threats to the natural environment. Disputes of this type arise because some stakeholders expressed concern that others' actions are creating damage to the ecosystem. One example of a collaborative that successful dealt with this problem is the Mono Lake Group. The collaboration was initiated after a group of environmentalists (the Mono Lake Committee) sued the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power because of environmental damage to a reservoir supplying water to the city of Los Angeles. A collaboration was convened to reach agreement on future issues affecting the lake. The stakeholders in this project included the L.A. Department of Water and Power, the Mono Lake Committee, the L.A. City Council and Mayor, the U.S. Forest Service, the county supervisors, and the California Department of Water Resources. Technical assistance was provided by the Environmental Defense Fund. Among the agreements reached by the group is the decision not to solve their problems by shifting ecosystem damage to other locations. Issues under consideration included recycling and reimbursement strategies for water conservation.

A major controversy over construction of a hydroelectric dam and highway through the Mexican rainforest, Chimalapas, in southern Mexico, was resolved through a collaborative initiative known as the Chimalapas Coalition. The coalition included the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas (where the rainforest is located), the federal legislature and several ministries, environmental NGO's, human rights groups, and international organizations. The convening role was performed by Synergos Institute, a U.S.-based partnership-building group, who enlisted participation of groups reluctant to join the coalition. Synergos also served as a bridge to organize and facilitate discussions among groups who had no formal relationships, secure outside funding to assist in organizing indigenous peoples (the Campesinos) to participate and creation of a structure for the Coalition.

The Coalition has assumed a variety of organizational forms over the past four years, ranging from a tightly organized formal partnership to a loosely-coupled affiliation of independent groups (Synergos, 1993, p. 8). The Coalition's efforts have produced several positive outcomes: (1) resolution of long-standing land tenure disputes, (2) community plans for use and conservation of the forest, (3) state government commitment to upgrade public works and improve services to communities, (4) agreement not to build the hydroelectric dam and highway, (5) creation of a loan fund for small projects, and (6) plans for a campesino-controlled biosphere reserve within the rain forest.

Water Allocation. A collaboration to deal with a dispute over redirecting the flow of river water to the dried up Umatilla River in Oregon was convened by one of the stakeholders, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The CTUIR persuaded environmentalists and state officials to seek an informal solution to the water allocation issues rather than formally stall a $100 million water management project on the Columbia River. The environmentalists and fishing interests were challenging state and federal agencies for failure to enforce existing water laws. With the help of a mediator from Confluence Northwest and a water law expert an agreement was reached that “provides for more water in the Umatilla River by exchanging Columbia River water for irrigation water currently taken directly from the Umatilla or reservoirs in the basin” (Consensus, 1992, p. 4).

Local Control of Water Resources. Another example of collaboration resulted in the transfer of oversight and maintenance responsibility for the management of a large-scale irrigation system from central government authorities to local farmers in Sumatra, Indonesia. A collaborative partnership among NGO's, government agencies, water users' associations, universities and international donors made this local empowerment effort possible (Synergos Institute, 1993).

Generating Regulations. One form of collaboration that is embedded within traditional regulatory apparatus is regulatory negotiation or negotiated rulemaking. Negotiated rulemaking brings together parties with a direct interest in a specific rule about to be promulgated by a government agency. The agency serves as convener. The parties assay the relative merits of alternative rules until they reach agreement on a mutually acceptable version that is then published for review and comment. Parties are offered the opportunity to review and sign off on the final version which the agency then promulgates. Two such processes illustrate how negotiated rulemaking can be used to address water disputes.

In Idaho a water antidegradation policy was hopelessly stalemated after two legislative efforts had received vetoes from two different governors. After the second attempt the governor invited industry and environmentalist opponents to try mediation. Each group was asked to prepare draft regulation that the Governor put forward. Mediation was intended to produce a compromise agreement that would then be used as the basis for detailed regulations and legislation. This collaboration was effectively mandated by the governor as he threatened to adopt the opposing sides draft regulations if the other did not participate. With mediation assistance from the Northwest Renewable Resources Center, an agreement was reached among the participating parties including: the Idaho Mining Association, the Idaho Farm Bureau, Intermountain Forest Industry Association, Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Sportsman's Coalition, The Wilderness Society, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

An eight state effort to cleanup the Great Lakes is also using regulatory negotiation. Under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, standards are being set for the regulation of 140 pollutants found in the lakes.


The above listing of cases is certainly not exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate the range of water issues that lend themselves to solution through collaborative methods. Key to the process is selection of a convener who can organize the participants and bound the scope of the problem so that successful resolution is within reach. In the cases above, the projects differed in the type of convening mechanism. These are mapped in Figure 2. In international disputes that role may often best be played by a neutral nation state or by the United Nations or by a consortium of international organizations. For example, Trolldalen (1992) has suggested that the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a tripartite agreement between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the World Bank, may be an appropriate agency for conflict resolution.

Figure 2. Dominant Mode and Central Attribute of Conveners

Convener Has What Type of Influence:



Source of Intervention into the Problem Domain

Requested by Stakeholders



Mono Lake Group

Chimalapas Coalition Indonesian Irrigation

Initiated by Convener



Idaho Water Degradation Policy

Umatilla River Dispute

Additionally, all but one of the processes described above relied on the assistance of a neutral mediator or bridging agency who ensured that a constructive process of dispute resolution was employed. Often this role is played by both a “process” and a “technical” expert to ensure that both the feasibility of the technical solutions and the dynamics of the negotiations are carefully attended to.

Collaboration is clearly not a panacea for dealing with the complex issues involved in water management, particularly in international settings. However, it does offer an alternative and implementable vision for addressing environmental resource disputes that otherwise will likely result in protracted adversarial squabbles and failure to evolve solutions that promote a sustainable planetary future. If we don't try collaboration, do we have another alternative?


Bingham, G. 1986. Resolving Environmental Disputes: A decade of experience. Washington, D.C.: Conservation Foundation.

Bosso, C.J. 1988. Transforming Adversaries into Collaborators. Policy Sciences, 21, 3-21.

Clark, E.H., Bingham, G. & Orenstein, S.G. 1991. Resolving Water Disputes: Obstacles and Opportunities. Resolve, No. 23, 1, 3-7.

Consensus. 1992. Enough Water for People, Crops and Fish, July, No. 15, pp. 1, 4.

Consensus. 1992. “Reg Neg” part of Great Lakes clean up. July, No. 15, pp. 1-2.

Forman, S.C. 1989. There are No Interjurisdictional Panaceas. National Civic Review, 78 (1), 17-24.

Golich, V.L. & Young, T.F. 1993. Resolution of the United States-Canadian Conflict Over Acid Rain Controls. Journal of Environment and Development, 2, (1), 63-110.

Gray, B. 1989. Collaborating: Finding common ground for multiparty problems. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989.

Gray, 1993. Business, Government and Communities as Partners in Resolving Environmental Disputes. Paper presented at the conference, “Making Collaboration Happen”, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, June 21-24, 1993.

Gray, B. & Hay, T.M. 1985. Political Limits to Interorganizational Consensus and Change. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 22, (2), 95-112.

McCann, J. 1983. Design Guidelines for Social Problem-Solving Interventions. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 19, 177-189.

Northwest Renewable Resources Center Newsletter. 1988. Idaho Water Antidegradation Successfully Mediated. 4 (2), 1-2.

Sebenius, J.K. 1992. Challenging Conventional Explanations of International Cooperation: Negotiation analysis and the case of epistemic communities. International Organization, 46 (1), 332.

Soros, M. 1986. Beyond Sovereignty: The challenge of global policy. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Synergos Institute. 1993. Working Together to Overcome Poverty: Report of activities. pp. 7-9.

Trolldalen, J.M. 1992. International Environmental Conflict Resolution. Washington, D.C.: NIDR.

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). 1989. Environmental Perspectives to the Year 2000 and Beyond. Narobi.

WCED. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford University Press.

Wood, D.J. & Gray, B. 1991. Toward a Comprehensive Theory of Collaboration. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 27 (2), 139-162.

Table 1

Phase 1: Problem-Setting

Goal: Stakeholders Agree to Talk about the Issues




Common Definition of the Problem

“What is the problem?”

Need agreement that a community issue causes problems important enough to collaborate. The problem must be common to several stakeholders.

Commitment to Collaborate

“What's in it for me?”

Stakeholders fed that collaborating will solve their own problems. Need to be dissatisfied with current conditions. Shared values are key.

Identification of Stakeholders

“Who should participate?”

An inclusive process that includes multiple stakeholders so the problems can be understood.

Legitimacy of Stakeholders

“Who has the right and capability to participate?”

Not only expertise but also power relationships important.

Leader's Characteristics

“Do I trust and respect the leader - the organization and the person?”

Collaborative leadership is key to success. Stakeholders need to perceive the leader as unbiased.

Identification of Resources

“How can we fund the planning process?”

Funds from government or foundations may be needed for less well-off organizations.

Inskip (1993). Adapted from Gray (1989)
Table 2

Phase 2: Direction-setting

Goal: Negotiating




Establishing Ground Rules

“What is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour?”

Gives stakeholders a sense of fair process and equity of power.


“What are the substantive issues we need to examine and decide?”

Stakeholders' different motivations for joining mean that establishing a common agenda may be difficult.

Organizing Subgroups

“Do we need to break into smaller groups to carry out our work?”

Large plenary committees need to be broken into smaller working groups.

Joint Information Search

“Do we really understand the other side of this negotiation?”

Different sets of information and/or not enough information to make a judgement. Joint search can help find common basis and sort out which are common, opposing or different.

Exploring Options

“What are all the possible options to solving our problems?”

Multiple interests mean that multiple options need to be considered before closure. Stakeholders' own interests are important.

Reaching Agreement and Closing the Deal

“Are we committed to going ahead on one option or a package of options?”

Stakeholders can agree on recommendations for a formal organization or a joint voluntary course of action.

Inskip (1993). Adapted from Gray (1989).
Table 3

Phase 3: Implementation

Goal: Systematic Management of Interorganizational Relations




Dealing with Constituencies

“How do we persuade our constituencies that this was the best deal we could negotiate?”

Stakeholders need time to make sure that their constituents understand the tradeoffs and support the agreement.

Building External Support

“How do we insure that organizations that will implement are onside?”

A concern that senior officials in Government or business have not been briefed fully.


“Do we need a formal organization to fulfill our agreement?”

Voluntary efforts can work. A formal organization may be needed to coordinate long-term collaboration.

Monitoring the Agreement and Ensuring Compliance

“How do we figure out assets, legal obligations and compliance with contracts?”

Time for lawyers and possibly more legal/financial negotiations.

Inskip (1993). Adapted from Gray (1989).

Rio San Juan River Basin: A Case of Conflict in Management of a Bi-National Basin

Marco A. González1

1 Secretary General, Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development (FUNDESOS), Apartado Postal 2313, Managua, Nicaragua
Note of the Editor: At the time of the publication of these proceedings, only the abstract in english of the presentation was available. Further details or the complete paper may be available by contacting the author at the specified address. Also, refer to the special paper titled Binational Management of the San Juan River Basin: From War to Cooperation, in Part VI.


The presentation will report on the progress of talks relating to the dispute on the Rio San Juan Basin. Prior to the Dialogue, a special meeting will be held at the North-South Center at the University of Miami where parties from Nicaragua and Costa Rica will meet to discuss the water quality degradation within the Rio San Juan River Basin.

The goal of these talks is to present a bi-lateral or bi-national view of the San Juan River Basin management and protection. It is very important since historically the political, institutional and legal development of Costa Rica and Nicaragua have been quite different. The results of those developments are different levels of exploitation of the river basin and different legal rules regulating the use and protection of the basin.

Though many efforts have been made during the past decade to protect the border areas in the bi-national coordinating effort, the San Juan River Basin which practically covers all of those protected areas has not been the object of significant bi-national regulation. The talks include representatives of both governments and scholars and the efforts that have been made to find a way to control the water quality in the Rio San Juan Basin. Particular emphasis will be given to the role of the Central American Commission on the Environment and the Bi-National Commission on International Systems for Protecting Areas for Peace.

Water Quality as a Top Priority for the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development

Steven J. Parcells1 and Deborah Moore²

1 International Water Specialist, National Audubon Society, 666 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20818, USA

² Staff Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, 5655 College Avenue, Oakland, California 94618, USA

As the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) begins its work in earnest, there are many questions surrounding what the CSD can and should do to tackle the problems and solutions identified in Agenda 21, signed at the Earth Summit in June 1992. There are many broad procedural and oversight functions the CSD can satisfy, as well as some areas to break new ground, including developing standards and guidelines for development assistance to ensure investments are made in truly Sustainable development, creating an information clearinghouse for environmental data and environmentally-sound technologies, and providing a forum or mechanism for dependent auditing of international Sustainable development programs.

In addition to such general procedures, the CSD should make strategic and concrete progress towards solving a few key sectoral problems in the short-term as a hallmark of Sustainable development. By facilitating such progress the CSD will gain credibility among the international community. What follows are brief points for why water quality should be one of the CSD's priorities, what some of the problems are, and how to solve the problems, and what the CSD can do to help.

1. Make water quality a top short-term priority for CSD

Compared to other urgent international environmental issues where diplomacy, avoiding the appearance of environmental imperialism, and differing priorities among developing and industrialized countries makes for turbulent and tricky negotiations, water quality is something that everybody can agree on. And in many areas of the world, it's a relatively easy problem to fix.

· Safe drinking water and proper sanitation (e.g. primary sewage treatment) are basic human needs. Both developing and industrialized countries share concerns over human health, disease, and children's welfare. Contamination of water is an immediate, life-threatening, industry-limiting, mainly localized problem.

· Many U.N. agencies, like UNICEF, PROWESS, and HABITAT, have already shown that simple, low-cost technologies can make an enormous difference in treating waste and waste water, particularly in rural areas. There are many new technologies available for conserving water (thereby reducing the volume of waste needing treatment) and treating wastewater. Funding has been a limiting factor.

· Significant gains could be made in the near term, thereby illustrating that the CSD has a useful purpose.

2. Some facts about water problems
· More than 1 billion people lack access to adequate and safe water supplies, while 1.7 billion (almost one-third of the world's population!) lack adequate sanitation services.

· Large amounts of sewage are untreated; in Latin America 98% of sewage is not treated. As a result contaminated water supplies cause approximately 80% of diseases in the developing world. Diarrhea kills 4-5 million children per year.

· Fisheries, which provide 23% of the world's protein sources, are declining worldwide (both freshwater and ocean) due to water pollution, as well as from the loss of rivers and wetlands from damming, diking, draining, and deforesting activities.

· The economic and productivity costs are substantial. Cholera epidemics reduce agricultural exports and tourism (estimated $1 billion loss in 10 weeks of cholera scare in Peru). In Jakarta, Indonesia, $50 million is spent by households to boil water, in turn using large amounts of energy as well. For poor people in Bangladesh and Peru, the cost of boiling water is between 11 % and 29% of family income.

· Despite large expenditures on water-related projects by institutions like the World Bank, which has spent a cumulative total of about $35 billion, these problems continue to persist. Investments in water supply and sanitation were extremely inadequate throughout the 1980s; public investment was about 0.5% of developing countries' GDP for the decade.

3. What are the solutions to water quality problems?
· More financial resources, in “smaller bundles” are needed to invest in sewage collection and treatment. “Smaller bundles” means that huge World Bank loans and credits are not the only answer to this problem. In fact, UNICEF has estimated that 80% of the world's unserved could be provided services for one-third the cost of conventional approaches using low-tech, low-cost technologies.

· Mechanisms to mobilize private and community investment in water supply, sewerage, and sanitation should be promoted, as well as financial accountability of water utilities and disincentives for pollution like the “polluter pays” principle.

· There are numerous new, low-cost, clean technologies for waste water treatment and water conservation that are emerging that need to be transferred to developing countries. Governments should develop national policies, building codes, and appliance, fixture, and manufacturing regulations to promote low-water-using, clean technologies.

· There are innovative sanitation, hygiene, and public health programs being used to provide community-based health care at low-cost with high returns, such as de-centralized, local community health agents that provide education in nutrition, hygiene, health, and sanitation.

· Water conservation, particularly in urban areas, has the dual benefit of reducing per capita water use, reducing energy needs to produce hot water, and reducing the volume of wastewater needing treatment. Greater investments in municipal, domestic, industrial, and irrigation water conservation and efficiency improvements are required from local, national, and international funding sources.

· Multi-lateral development banks, bi-lateral agencies, and U.N. Agencies need to make water supply and sanitation a high priority in their budgets. Yet, they should invest far more in low-cost, de-centralized, community-based sanitation programs than in capital- and resource-intensive, high-tech tertiary treatment plants are large dams.

· NGOs, private voluntary organizations, local governments, and for-profit and non-profit businesses should be the primary providers and disseminators of these investments, projects, and educational programs.

4. What can the CSD do to improve the world's water quality?
· Convene a Working Group on Global Water Issues, which would include the major players such as the World Bank, the regional development banks, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, WHO, WMO, GEF, NGOs, and other knowledgeable people.

· Develop, in conjunction with other international agencies, governments, NGOs, etc., water quality goals, such as tripling the coverage of primary sewage treatment by 2000.

· Develop guidelines for development assistance to achieve water supply and water quality goals so that the investments of the MDBs, UNDP, GEF and UNICEF, bi-lateral aid agencies, etc. are efficient, socially acceptable and environmentally sound. Guidelines should include a focus on water conservation and re-use before development of new supplies, extending services to the un-served first, preventing pollution through source reduction, determining the community's desired level of service, and making pollution data available to the public.

· Make water quality improvements a strategic issue that deserves top budget priority in UN agencies, multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid institutions, and national programs. Only 1/5 of World Bank lending for water and sewerage projects is spent on sewerage and sanitation components. Governments should be encouraged to shift new loans, credits, and grants away from large-scale infrastructure projects like dams towards water conservation and re-use, rural water supply and sanitation, and wastewater treatment.

· Implement Chapter 18 of Agenda 21, relying on national reports (as required by Agenda 21), Country Environmental Action Plans (as required by the World Bank), Regional Strategy papers of UN agencies and MDBs, and other relevant sources, to develop a coherent framework and list of priorities in the water sector, such as:

- the World Bank's forthcoming Water Resources Management Policy, which emphasizes water conservation and demand management;

- the World Bank/UNDP partnership to develop a guide on capacity building in the water sector;

- UNICEF's community-based water supply programs;

- the Organization of American States' InterAmerican Dialogue on Water Management to build a network of experts, data, and policies;

- local government and community-based programs for public health, like Viva Crianca in the state of Ceara, Brazil (winner of the 1993 UNICEF Maurice Pate Award); and

- NGO projects to provide low-cost, small-scale drinking water supplies in rural areas, such as the village ponds built by Utthan Mahiti in India's arid Gujarat state.

The World Bank - Water Resources Management Policy

Francois-Marie Patorni1

1 Principal Water Resources Management Specialist, Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, 1818 H Street, NW, Room M-7043, Washington, DC 20433, USA
Note of the Editor: Documents related to the World Bank's Water Resources Policy can be obtained directly from the author at the specified address. At the time of the publication of these proceedings only abstracts of this presentation were available.


The World Bank, from its early days, has had a very active assistance program for water resources management. By the end of 1991, the Bank had lent over US$ 34 billion for water operations. Projections for the next five years indicate that about US$ 19 billion will be lent for water resources investments, in close to 200 projects. While this is a significant portion of Bank operations, it is only a small fraction of developing countries' projected investment needs in the sector, which may total US$ 700-800 billion for the next decade.

Countries are now faced with increasing difficulties in meeting the demand for cheap, clean and reliable water supplies, because of fragmented management, overreliance on government agencies, and neglect of pricing, participation, and the environment. A new approach is called for, one that recognizes that water is both a basic need and a scarce economic resource.

This approach is set out in the Bank's Water Resources Management Policy Paper, which was approved by the Bank's Board of Directors in May 1993. The paper seeks to balance, in particular, two fundamental considerations:

· the need for a holistic management approach that gives due weight to longer term factors and to protecting the ecosystem, and

· the advantages of relying more on markets, pricing, and decentralized management to improve the allocation of water among competing uses.

The key to achieving compatibility between these considerations is the establishment of proper legislative, regulatory and institutional arrangements capable of maintaining coordination and coherence in policies and investments, as well as facilitating the utilization of market forces.

In the process of developing its policy, the Bank engaged in a wide ranging consultation with borrowing countries, international agencies, and NGOs. Through this process, the Bank benefitted from many insights provided by knowledgeable sources.

The main features of the policy are:

· development of a comprehensive analytical framework for water resources management;

· greater emphasis on incentives, pricing, demand management, and cost recovery;

· establishment of strong legal and regulatory frameworks;

· decentralization of water services delivery while at the same time establishing coordination mechanisms;

· promotion of wider participation by stakeholders;

· greater attention to the protection, enhancement, and restoration of water quality and water dependent eco-systems;

· priority to the provision of adequate water and sanitation services for the poor.

This is an ambitious agenda. In most countries, its implementation will be gradual, dealing first with priority issues which differ from country to country.


Water is essential to all human activities. However, in the years to come, water shortages and pollution are likely to cause extreme hardship in the poorer countries, national and international conflicts, and practically irreversible damage to the environment. In many parts of the world, this has already occurred.

There is a widespread consensus that, to address the complex and multi-disciplinary issues associated with the water sector, (a) water management should be approached in a comprehensive inter-sectoral manner, integrating the whole set of policy, institutional, economic, financial, technical, environmental and social dimensions, so as to plan, develop and operate water systems in a sustainable manner, (b) capacity building activities should be undertaken to increase the capacity of policy makers, decision makers and managers to design and implement sustainable policies and programs of action for efficient and comprehensive management of the water sector, and (c) human resources development, including making people aware of issues and of approaches to resolve them, and developing a cadre of trained professionals, is a cornerstone for capacity building.

The basic objective of EDI's strategy in the water sector is to increase the capacity of people who make or influence policies, to help them design and implement sustainable policies and programs of action to manage the water sector in their countries. EDI pursues this objective by (a) designing and implementing national and regional programs, including seminars covering the whole range of water sector issues, and assisting national institutions to establish continuing training programs, (b) helping to create and operate international networks amongst training and related institutions to stimulate contacts among members, and (c) launching regional programs to strengthen water training institutions.

The above capacity building activities are designed and carried out in partnership with the concerned institutions and individuals in the Bank's member countries, and with external multilateral and bilateral agencies. In order to achieve lasting effects, activities should continue during several years, and be progressively taken over by the concerned countries.

Elements of a typical national program include: (a) a series of seminars, prepared and implemented in collaboration with a national partner institution and a cross-section of stakeholders. The seminars would use as guiding themes the main concepts included in the World Bank's Water Resources Management Policy Paper and in Regional Strategy Papers, and themes identified by the participants during the preparation of each of the seminars; and (b) a program of assistance to the partner institution.

For further information, please contact:

Francois-Marie Patorni, Principal Water Resources Management Specialist
Economic Development Institute, The World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433, USA - Tel.: (202) 473 6265, Fax: (202) 676 0978

The Issue of Equity in International Environmental Negotiations: The Perspective of Developing Countries

Diana Ponce-Nava1

1 Environmental Lawyer, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Prol. De Angelina 10, (Entre P.L. Ogazon y Rio San Angel), Col. Guadalupe, México DF, México
From the time of the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment, the activity in the field of international environmental law has increased. There are now about 140 multilateral treaties and hundreds of bilateral treaties on environmental issues. Most of them apply to environmental issues in a rather limited manner, either from a geographical perspective, meaning that they apply to specific pieces of geographic regions of the world, or from a subject-matter point of view, meaning that they apply to a specific species or to a specific natural resource.

Probably the most important result of the efforts of the past twenty years is understanding that the earth is not an infinite place or source of goods, but rather a very limited place, and that the resources stored in the planet may be exhausted. This understanding has taken on a feeling of a threat: if we do not find solutions, something bad is going to happen in the future or maybe even in the present. The concepts of the extent to which the global ecosystem components are linked, and the understanding that the global ecosystem is adjusted, together we have changed our approach to solutions.

This is one of the first times that the international community has understood that certain problems need a global solution. Few cases in the past have brought countries together politically, to try to solve a problem they agreed global. For example, in the nuclear arms race case, the feeling of global threat was never stronger than the feeling of national security held by the few countries that owned all the nuclear arms; so, a global solution was not achieved. Another case was the Law of the Sea Convention negotiations, in which one component of earth's ecosystem was certainly viewed from a global perspective. A global understanding of the management of the seas was attempted, but, after ten years, this convention still has not entered into force, for various reasons, indicating that the global understanding of the oceans' role within earth's ecosystem did not prevail.

Addressing environmental problems may be the first time industrialized countries have wanted something really bad. They realize that they all need to do something about the environment. For developing and middle-income countries, too, this is the first recognition of potential harm if they follow the same development patters the industrialized countries have followed for the past 150 years. The realization of the need to find a global solution has taken place in the latest three or four years. There are about fifteen international meetings per month on various international global issues. International environmental law is being developed as we speak.

An issue the international community has understood is the grave extent of global deterioration of the environment and the need to repair it. We are not talking about deterioration that may happen in the future. Environmental deterioration is already harming communities and ecosystems. Something must be done.

To agree on what has to be done by whom, we call upon the principle of equity. In the last four years, participating in international negotiations, I have heard six different conceptions of the equity principle. It is a difficult concept, how you define it?. I have taken the task of writing down every time a country offers a different definition of equity, and I want to share the results with you. Although I will put forward questions and not solutions, the underlying purpose in this definition of equity is finding the criteria for distributing the costs of global environmental protection, whether for purposes of mitigation, adaptation, or compensation.

One concept of equity frequently utilized is that we must understand the historical responsibility of countries in the present situation of global deterioration. This concept immediately puts the burden on developed countries. For the last 150 years, their industrializing processes have irrationally, maybe even irresponsibly, used natural resources. This has made possible their present standards of living, twenty times higher that the average standard of living in developing countries. Therefore, an equitable response dictates that these rich countries who have run upon the bill, pay the costs of repairing the global environmental deterioration.

There has been also mention of “present responsibility”. Some delegates in negotiations say that we do not have to talk about historical responsibility, but simply by speaking of present responsibility we have a hint of who is causing the problem. Today, in 1993, any ordinary citizen of a developed country consumes twenty times more of everything than an ordinary citizen of a developing country. So, those who have the better standards of living at present should pay for them. This input could be used to protect the environment.

Another idea related to responsibility emerges with the concept of liability. In Spanish, responsibility means both responsibility and liability. But in the English language, there is quite a distinction between responsibility and liability. This is why liability has to be mentioned. Liability in Anglo-Saxon law brings in the element of intention or negligence, an element of the torts system of law. So, in this case an equitable response is that whenever environmental damage is proved, those who are liable should pay for it. We now have listed three different concepts to support the definition of equity.

Another criterion for defining equity states that resources of the world should be distributed in an equal manner. These global resources are defined as “global commons”, or a common heritage of mankind. Many developing countries, who possess most of the earth's natural resources, react to this concept. This is true with Mexico. In recent negotiations regarding biological diversity protection, the concept of common heritage was brought up. The response was in effect: “This is not a common heritage of mankind; it is a heritage of the Mexicans, both present and future generations. We are not ready to give away these resources, which, according to the principle of sovereignty over natural resources, belong to the Mexican nation”. A similar response was given by the Brazilians when it was said that the Amazonian forest was a common heritage of mankind. Furthermore, a similar response came from such countries as Malaysia, India and China.

The concept of equal distribution of the global commons gives rise to discussion of the intergeneration equity concept, which states that present generations are not absolutely free to do anything they want with present natural resources. They must, in justice, protect those resources for future generations. Therefore, equity is defined as an equitable distribution of resources between present and future generations. Again, the political response is why should a Brazilian or Indian Community stop cutting trees for fields to allow future generations of Canadians or Norwegians to live better? The Brazilians of Indians want to live better today, and they have basic needs.

When debating about present and future elements of intergenerational equity, another element is encompassed: what about what past generations did? We see again the historical element brought onto the table. Past generations undertook certain patterns of development that allowed present generations, in some areas of the world, to have excellent standards of living. The question follows: Why do not share what past generations did, among present generations? This concept is also called intragenerational equity. It takes the stance that we cannot talk only about equal distribution between present and future generations; we must also talk about equal distribution among present generations.

A proposal has been put forth in several negotiations that we should achieve a convergence at a common per capita level of consumption through a treaty, establishing international legal standards. To achieve this common per capita level of consumption of a given resource, we must take into account basic needs. What are the basic needs that any human being must satisfy to be considered living decently? Here, many sociological arguments come into play, because the basic needs for a warm country are rather different from basic needs for a cold country. The basic needs for a fishery community are very different from the basic needs of a forest dwelling community.

Another criterion for defining equity is “preserving the status quo”. In Anglo-Saxon law, this is known as “adverse rights” “squatters rights”, or “appropriation rights”. It is a principle known in Roman law as “first in time, first in right”, or “first come, first served”. In this sense, it is questionable whether such rights can be applied to pollution rights. Should a country that has achieved certain pollution levels have the right to maintain those pollution levels? There is a precedent in that respect in international law. Some specialists consider this principle to be the basis for the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances. In this protocol, a baseline for consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) the substances generating the increasing hole in the stratospheric ozone layer, was established: a certain baseline for developed countries and a certain baseline for developing countries. From that baseline onwards, countries have different obligations. The obligations for developed countries are stricter than those for the developing countries. But the idea of establishing a baseline already exists.

Another criterion for defining equity is brought to the table when people mention a political will to pay. We are talking about a global problem that must be solved. Forget about everything except this criterion: those who have resources should show the political will and interest to do something about it, just because they have the resources to pay for it. Again, the burden falls on developed countries, at least at the international level. However, this idea will immediately prevail in internal or domestic law when finding ways and means to protect the environment at the domestic level.

One criterion more calls for “distributive justice”. It aspires to a new international economic order with the idea of “starting from scratch”.

Together all the described concepts of equity make the issue of finding a solution to global environmental problems, become very complicated. Many of these concepts are recriminatory, finger pointing toward certain groups of countries. Negotiations experience illustrates that one has to be very pragmatic, and the goal must be to find a formula that works. A combination of all the criteria mentioned previously might build a consensus for defining equity, that could provide the basis for further understandings from which to find solutions to global problems. The result in a concrete agreement would be that the north developed, countries, and South developing countries, would take similar measures regarding certain environmental problems. But the equity perspectives of the two groups of countries are different.

In the end, the perspectives of the two groups of countries do not matter. Rather, the important point is to reach concrete measures. This has to be used in a positive way for humanity. Equity cannot be defined in a unilateral or simplistic manner. It is very critical to a global solution to agree upon a definition of equity.

Finally, I want to touch on the aspect of governance, a current development in international negotiations. By understanding Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration, countries are realizing that sovereignty cannot be claimed in the traditional sense any more. It is clearer to all countries that they must at least share information regarding internal activities that cause transboundary impacts. This is very poorly understood, yet has reached global levels. There is no mechanism at the international level that truly accomplishes the goal of setting a framework for countries to share information and later enable them to agree on measures.

To speak of governance means to speak of I a system of review of the action of countries, regarding environmental problems, no such system in place allows exchange of views in an impartial, neutral and positive manner. It is to be hoped that within the next twenty years, we will see the development of new governance rules it the international level.

Integrated Conservation Planning in the Cuiabá River Basin, Mato Grosso, Brazil

William J. Possiel1, Adalberto Eberhard, Angela Tresinari

1 Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy, 1815 N. Lynn Street, Arlington, VA 22209

The Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland, and one of its most productive wetland wildlife habitats. It covers over 140,000 km2 in Brazil alone.

Over the past 250 years traditional development, especially cattle ranching, had been compatible with conservation of the Pantanal, but current trends threaten the dynamic processes that sustain the wetland system.

The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Ecotrópica Foundation has launched a major initiative to protect the biological diversity of the Cuiabá River basin, one of the Pantanal's main tributaries.

The three most significant activities affecting the water basin are: a) agroindustrial development in the water basin, b) intense gold and diamond mining, and c) urban and regional development. In addition, the proposal to create a transportation link between various countries in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay, represents a major threat to the stability of the complex hydrologic regime.

Efforts will begin with the development of an integrated conservation plan for the northern Pantanal, which will include an in-depth study of the region from the ecological, social, and economic points of view. Threats and their causes will be identified, conservation priorities will be established, and solutions will be proposed which take into account the needs and aspirations of the local inhabitants. The expansion and protection of a core area in and around the Pantanal National Park will be considered.

The product of this study will be an Integrated Conservation Plan for the Cuiabá River Basin, describing the dynamics and problems of the region and containing specific recommendations for conservation and compatible development action.

When the Plan is completed, the Ecotrópica Foundation with support from The Nature Conservancy will work to secure the cooperation of the public and private sector in order to implement its recommended actions.


Pantanal, wetland, river basin, biodiversity, threats, bioreserve


The Pantanal is the largest freshwater wetland in the World, covering over 140,000 km2 in Brazil alone (EMBRAPA, 1993). In the Pantanal three distinct floristic stocks - cerrados, Amazon forest and Chaco - come together in a complex mosaic of terrestrial diversity (Prance, 1982). The cycle of heavy tropical rains in the wet season causes the Pantanal's rivers to overflow, flooding an area the size of Nebraska.

The geomorphology of the Pantanal consists of an alluvial plain, which varies between 100-200 m in altitude and is surrounded by a crystalline plateau - planalto -, approximately 600-700 in altitude, covered with cerrado vegetation.

During the dry season the waters recede, exposing rich grasslands and forests, dotted with countless lagoons and marshes. The temperature is hot and rainy in the summer and mild and dry in the winter with average temperatures of 32°C and 21°C respectively. Average precipitation is between 1,000 and 1,400 mm per year, concentrated between December and March. It is estimated that 92% of the plains are composed of hydromorphic origin and more than 70% of the soils are considered to be low fertility (EMBRAPA, 1993).

This cycle makes the Pantanal one of the world's most productive wetland wildlife habitats. Millions of waterfowl breed and feed along its rivers and lagoons, and dense populations of jaguars (Pantera onca), capybaras (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris), marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), rhea (Rhea americana) and others thrive in its forests and grasslands. The waters themselves are home to vast numbers of caimans (Caiman crocodilus yacare), giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis), and a great diversity of fish species. There have been 80 species of mammals, 650 species of birds, 50 reptiles and amphibians, and 260 fish recorded from the Pantanal region. The abundance of aquatic and terrestrial life forms in the Pantanal is nothing short of spectacular. The geomorphology and evolution have conspired to produce a complex ecosystem of international patrimony (Mittermeier et al., 1980).

The Pantanal clearly warrants a major conservation effort. Over the past 250 years traditional development by the Pantaneiros had been compatible with conservation of the Pantanal, but current land use trends threaten the dynamic processes that sustain the wetland system. In particular, the plan to create a transportation link between the countries of the Mercosur - the proposed regional economic integration program, or “common market” between Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay - represents a major threat to the stability of the complex hydrologic regime. The focus of this paper is on international collaboration to protect a sub-basin within the Brazilian Pantanal, the Cuiabá River basin.

Cuiabá River Basin

The origins of the Cuiabá River lie in the Serra Azul in the sub-basins of the Manso River and its tributary, the Casca River. These headwater basins of the system cover an area of about 4,650 km². The Cuiabá River is the principal tributary of the Paraguay River, and consequently of the Pantanal of Mato Grosso. It extends 1,000 km from its origin to its confluence with the Paraguay River. Draining an area of approximately 100,000 km2, it reaches its mouth with an average discharge of 480 m³/sec.

The complexity of the hydrological regime reflects that of the greater Pantanal. While hydrological studies have documented, at least superficially, the dynamics of the water basin (UNDP, 1973), they also indicate the presence of a network of underground streams and subsurface water movement. A more in-depth assessment of the hydropatterns of the basin is necessary to better understand the effects of specific human activities on the system, and to develop plans to counteract those effects.

The Cuiabá River basin was one of the first colonized areas in western Brazil, where Bandeirantes arrived in the sixteenth century using the Paraguay river to gain access to the region. Over the centuries development pressures have been steady, but have had relatively low impact. The tradition of cattle ranching in the low lying areas of the region has been a major contributor to the current, relatively healthy, state of the basin.

The three most significant activities affecting the water basin are: a) agroindustrial development in the upper water basin, especially soybean; b) intense gold and diamond mining resulting in increased sediment load and mercury contamination; and c) urban and regional integration development efforts and their impact on the environment.


For the past 200 years, the principal economic activity has been cattle grazing in the lower basin. There are an estimated 3.8 million head of cattle which produce approximately US$60 million per year (EMBRAPA, 1993). The development of cattle ranches in the Pantanal has been compatible with maintenance of the hydrological patterns and, while localized impacts can be noted, this traditional activity has provided an economic base for local landowners, the Fazendeiros.


In the late 1960's there was a boom in development activities in the planalto of the Pantanal region, caused in part by stale efforts of regional integration and by natural expansion pressures. The development of two agricultural technologies have had a major effect on the water quality of the Pantanal: the production of large-scale cash crops and biomass fuel production. The expansion of mechanized soy production is of particular concern because of the system-wide effects of non-point water pollution (Alho, et al. 1988).

The most important crop in the upper basin region is soybean, grown in extensive monoculture, followed by rice, corn, beans, cotton, sugar cane, and wheat. These crops are grown mainly in upland areas; agriculture in the Pantanal plain comprises a very small proportion of the total economic activity (EMBRAPA).

With the possible expansion of agriculture in the Pantanal as a result of the improved transportation networks being proposed by the development of the Hidrovia project, one of the possible negative aspects would be the transportation of toxic cargo by boat, with the risk of accidents and serious environmental consequences.

Socio-Economic Considerations

The grasslands of the Pantanal have been used for grazing cattle for hundreds of years. Traditional families own huge ranches, worked by men whose ancestors have lived in the Pantanal for generations. The herds share native grasses with capybaras and deer, and a rotating pasture system ensures that there is plenty for cattle and wildlife. Especially-bred Pantaneiro horses, whose gait allows them to cross marshlands without miring, are used to drive the cattle to market.

A rich cultural tradition has developed in the ranches of the Pantanal, expressed in music, dress, food, lifestyle, and philosophy of life. This Pantaneiro culture embodies a deep respect for nature. The Pantaneiros are very protective of “their” wildlife, with both land owners and local inhabitants showing a high level of concern for the environment. However, poverty brought on by a lack of education and opportunity often overwhelms environmental concerns among the rural inhabitants, and ranchers faced with changing economic conditions are increasingly yielding to development pressures. Still, few cultures are more willing to find solutions to such conflicts.

There is little information on the distribution of wealth in the Pantanal, but it reflects that of Brazil as a whole. While multi-billion dollar development schemes are often provided incentives by the federal government, and in the case of Hidrovia multiple governments, in many instances local peoples do not welcome projects which would change the entire socio-economic landscape of the region. In the Cuiabá River Basin, a consortium of the basin's municipalities has been created to “save the river and protect their environment.” The consortium has as its goal to “encourage practical action in the preservation, recuperation and conservation of the Cuiabá River” (Diário de Cuiabá, 1992).

“It is hard to demand of political leaders, especially those who rely on the voles of the living to achieve and remain in high office, that they ask those alive today to bear the costs for the sake of those not yet born, and not yet voting. It is equally hard to ask anyone in business, providing goods and services to the living, to change their ways for the sake of those not yet born, and not yet in the marketplace. However, sustainable development will ultimately be achieved only through cooperation among people and all their various organizations, including business and governments.” (Schmidheiny, 1992).

Integrated Regional Development Planning in Cuiabá

The Nature Conservancy is well known for identifying biologically significant areas, designing and managing preserves, and acquiring land to meet the conservation objectives established through preserve design. Several years ago the Conservancy resolved to broaden its vision of conservation of biological diversity through its “Bioreserve” initiative. The Bioreserve methodology is based on the Biosphere Reserve concept of the Man and the Biosphere Program (UNESCO-MAB). Using the biological inventories conducted by the Natural Heritage Programs in the United States, and the Conservation Data Centers in Latin America, The Nature Conservancy has identified focal areas based on our mission of helping to protect biological diversity. While some of the threats to the critical biological areas in Latin America are being addressed through the Parks in Peril program, buffer area programs are being developed in broad collaborative efforts, and integrated regional development planning provides the framework for the cooperation required for both of these efforts.

Integrated regional development planning is a response to a regional environment in which, instead of confronting environmental complexity by subdividing issues into sectoral components, the region is divided into spatial units with the aim of examining the sectoral interactions (OAS, 1984). Interactions of this kind are often conflictive for two reasons: (a) competition for the same goods or services by two or more interest groups; or, (b) a change in the mix of available goods and services as a result of the activities of one sector which are detrimental to another sector. In integrated regional planning efforts, the interaction with neighboring areas is also analyzed. Consequently, regionalization is necessary, and once such regional and subregional environments are defined, as has been done by the Ecotrópica Foundation in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, connections between neighboring units can be analyzed.

There are two important distinctions between The Nature Conservancy's Bioreserve planning methodology and other integrated regional planning efforts. The first is the emphasis in the early stages of the planning process on threat analysis, at the ecosystem and species levels. The second is inviting broad participation in the planning process. People within the region who will be most affected by development decisions are encouraged to define and take control of their own environments by making their needs and desires known in the planning process. This is fundamental to the network approach espoused by Michael Carley and Ian Christie (1993), where they discuss the “Top-down or bottom-up” approaches to sustainable development planning. Many of the recent environmental and development disasters have been driven by short-sighted, short-term, top-down development decision-making.

Bioreserve planning utilizes methods of systems analysis and conflict resolution to attempt appropriate distribution of the costs and benefits of development activities throughout the affected populations or sectors. Thus, conflict identification and resolution strategies are fundamental requirements if a development plan is to be “integrated” and implemented. Sectoral integration is necessary because individual sector activities may help, but often hinder the activities of other sectors in their efforts to appropriate goods and services from the same and allied systems. The decision as to which activities are the correct ones or how each can be adjusted to reduce conflict can only be made through negotiation by the parties involved and not by an individual sector - be it conservation, forestry, mining, agriculture or livestock production - trying to dictate to other sectors.


The most ominous threats to the Pantanal are the land use practices leading to the degradation of its water basins and resulting decline in water quality. The waters of the northern Pantanal come from the upper Paraguay and Cuiabá rivers, which originate in northwestern and central Mato Grosso state, a scrub forest region being convened to agricultural uses such as soybeans, sugar cane, rice and corn. Causes of degradation include:

Deforestation for agriculture, which causes soil erosion and silting of rivers.

Mining and the sediment and chemical contamination associated with this activity.

Non-Point Source water pollution from agricultural runoff, including pesticides and fertilizers.

Point Source water pollution originating from growing urban centers such as Cuiabá, Caceres and Várzea Grande.

Artificial drainage to create new pastures and fields. Dikes and canals built in upstream farms alter water flow patterns and intensify floods downstream, affecting the natural balance between wet and dry.

Threats specific to the Pantanal's wildlife include:
Overfishing for edible and ornamental fish. Regulations such as closed seasons and size and catch limits are inadequate and not observed by commercial fishermen due to lack of enforcement.

Poaching. Targets include hyacinth macaws, parrots and toucans for the illegal pet trade, and caimans, jaguars, and otters for their skins. Due to lack of patrolling, and isolation from traditional farms, poaching is heavy inside the Pantanal National Park.

Uncontrolled tourism. Tourism without proper planning and infrastructure is rapidly growing in the northern Pantanal. Detrimental effects include illegal sport fishing, disturbance of wildlife, excessive noise in bird nesting areas, and demand for pollution-causing urban conveniences.

Insufficient protected habitat. Much of the Pantanal's fauna requires forested habitat, which is scarce within the national park's boundaries, and is thus inadequately protected.


The density of wildlife populations in the Pantanal creates an excellent opportunity to preserve one of the most endangered components of the western hemisphere's biodiversity. A properly delimited protected area system in the Pantanal would protect an impressive array of mammals, parrots, waterfowl, caimans, and fish. Yet in this vast wetland there are only two conservation units, Taiama Ecological Station (14,325 ha/35,383 acres) and Pantanal National Park (135,000 ha./333,450 acres). In addition, the dynamics of the Pantanal ecosystem are themselves unique in the world. Recognizing the importance of this extraordinary ecosystem, The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the Ecotrópica Foundation has launched a major initiative to protect the biological diversity of the Cuiabá River basin in the Pantanal. The goal of the Pantanal Program is to preserve critical habitat and natural processes while promoting compatible development in the Pantanal as a whole. While compatible development in the buffer areas is essential, we will also focus on providing an infrastructure for expansion and protection of a core area in and around the Pantanal National Park.

The Core Area

The 135,000 ha (333,450-acre) Pantanal National Park, located at the confluence of the Cuiabá and Paraguay rivers, was created in 1976 out of a single cattle ranch, Caracará. This is the only national park in the Pantanal. The former Caracará farm has since been identified by the conservation community as an important area to protect. In the initial recommendation for the park's establishment, however, biologists recognized that what is now the Pantanal National Park, by itself, would not provide significant variety of seasonally inundated and “dry” forest cover to maintain viable wildlife populations. The initial study of this site recommended that the reserve be increased in size to include neighboring areas with representative forests and dry lands (Couto, et al., 1975).

Clearly, then, the park's borders as they currently stand do not take these conservation needs into consideration. As a result, two deficiencies in the park's design are readily apparent: the protected area contains vast grasslands and marshes but only small samples of forest habitat (12%), and 95% of the park is submerged during the floods, with a large proportion of its mammal fauna being forced to migrate to unprotected areas. Biological research indicates that in order for animals to follow resources from place to place during regular yearly cycles, a well-chosen reserve should include habitats in which the temporal behavior of vegetation is synchronous. If only one habitat is home to a complex of species, adjacent, different habitats may provide the resources at a short but critical time of year to maintain species' populations (Foster, 1980). While at present the Pantanal National Park is surrounded by low-density cattle ranches which are compatible with wildlife, development schemes and changing land use patterns threaten the long-term viability of the conservation unit.

The Pantanal National Park, which has been identified as the core area for regional planning efforts, lacks adequate infrastructure and has only one government ranger on site. The ranger's patrol boat often lacks fuel, and the headquarters building where he lives with his family is in dire need of repairs. Financial support for building infrastructure through the National Program for the Environment (PNMA) has been available to resolve immediate infrastructure needs, but according to the Brazilian Institute for the Environment (IBAMA) staff in Cuiabá, the regional office is unable to take advantage of this program because of inadequate administrative capabilities.

With the addition of a private reserve adjacent to the Pantanal National Park, private sector experimentation with stewardship activities can be conducted without entering into cumbersome bureaucratic channels. The principal stewardship challenges are: 1) maintenance of successional stages, 2) removal or mitigation of the effects of alien plants and animals; 3) the repair and prevention of poaching, overuse, and other human impacts; 4) meeting the effects of climatic and hydrologic changes; 5) intercepting or diminishing the effects of incompatible external influences such as water pollution; 6) facing legal challenges such as reserved mineral extraction or water rights; 7) coping with the effects of past alterations and the absence of key species such as predators; 8) resisting further extinctions (Pyle, 1980). And one of the most important factors is scientific research. Ehrenfield (1970) notes that “before a natural community can be managed, its principal elements and their principal interactions must be known.”

1. Protected Area Expansion

The Pantanal National Park was chosen to be the program's cornerstone protected area due to its federally protected status, lack of land tenure problems, large size, and rich aquatic and grassland habitats. The Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Pantanal National Park and its surroundings (The Nature Conservancy et al., 1992) clearly demonstrated the need to expand this protected area. While the Pantanal National Park protects adequate extensions of the Pantanal's lagoon, marsh, and grassland habitats, it does not contain viable samples of the wetland and forest habitats typical of the northern Pantanal. These habitats are essential for the survival of a significant proportion of the Pantanal's wildlife. Twenty-seven percent of the region's bird species live exclusively in forests, for instance. Currently, 16,200 ha (40,014 acres) of forest are protected within the national park, most of it broken up into small fragments. In order to preserve a representative sample of the Pantanal ecosystem, additional forest habitat must be protected.

The REA identified several heavily forested areas adjacent to the park which are ideally suited for this purpose. High concentrations of forest fauna were found there, including many species not observed within the park. In addition, the areas appear to contain significant amounts of drier land, and are thus valuable as a refuge for the park's large mammals during the flood season.

It is the intent of this collaborative effort to acquire land to establish a reserve, to be owned and administered by an in-country non-governmental organization. Together with the national park, this reserve will preserve viable samples of the major lowland habitats of the northern Pantanal. Thirty three thousand two hundred hectares (82,000 acres) of land has been proposed for acquisition. Over 49,400 ha (122,000 acres) of forest, combining forest cover in the park and the private reserve, would thus be preserved. As opportunities arise, additional forest acreage could be protected through further purchases or by obtaining conservation easements from the land owners.

2. Protected Area Management

Once agreement of the government is obtained and the expansion is accomplished, the Ecotrópica Foundation, together with IBAMA and The Nature Conservancy, will prepare a management plan for the combined protected area. Through its Parks in Peril Program, the Conservancy proposes to strengthen the park's patrolling capabilities while providing adequate facilities for park staff and for hosting researchers, supporters, and other visitors. The adjacent forest reserve will be similarly protected under this plan.

Patrolling - Rangers for both protected areas will be hired, trained, and equipped with uniforms, radios, and field equipment. Boats and horses for patrolling will be provided.

Infrastructure - The park's headquarters will be repaired and remodeled. Housing for new staff and facilities for visitors will be provided. Patrol bases will be established in key areas of the park. A base will be built at the private reserve as well, to serve as its headquarters and shelter its guards. Signs will be posted announcing the park's and reserve's protected status.

Community Relations - Orientation sessions for the area's residents to familiarize them with the work of the park rangers are proposed.

While the park and the reserve will have separate infrastructure and personnel, the proximity of the two areas and the agreements with IBAMA will permit extensive cooperation between the two reserves, which will be managed in an integrated manner.

3. Bioreserve Management

Efforts to protect nature reserves within the Pantanal can only succeed if external factors influencing the protected areas are taken into consideration. The Everglades National Park is a tragic example of a wetlands preserve doomed by the lack of watershed protection and declining water quality. Ninety percent of its bird fauna has disappeared, and the damage to its natural balance may be irreversible (Ogden 1978, Robertson and Kushlan 1984, and Kushlan and Frohring 1986). In order to avoid a similar fate for the Pantanal, the Conservancy will engage in a bold and innovative effort to ensure the survival of the entire northern Pantanal ecosystem.

The effort will begin with the development of an integrated conservation plan for the northern Pantanal. In cooperation with its in-country partners, the Conservancy will provide technical and financial assistance to carry out an in-depth study of the region from the ecological, social, and economic points of view. Threats and their causes will be identified, conservation priorities will be established, and solutions will be proposed which take into account the needs and aspirations of the local inhabitants. The product of this study will be an Integrated Conservation Plan for the Cuiabá River Basin, describing the dynamics and problems of the region and containing specific recommendations for conservation and compatible development action.

When the plan is complete, the Ecotrópica Foundation with support from The Nature Conservancy will work to secure the cooperation of the public and private sector in order to implement its recommended actions.

Institution Building - Brazilian conservation groups such as Ecotrópica will be supported and strengthened through training, technical assistance, and equipment donations, thus increasing the effectiveness of local conservation initiatives.

Developing Strategic Alliances - Collaborative relationships will be developed with federal and state government, non-governmental organizations and communities. Mechanisms will be developed to encourage the constant exchange of information, maintaining an open dialogue.

Establishment of a Private Reserve - Brazilian law provides several incentives, such as tax deductions, to land owners who set aside part of their properties for permanent preservation through the program for Reservas Particulares do Patrimonio Natural (RPPN - Decree # 98914 of 1/31/90). Once registered, these private reserves are protected by law in perpetuity. The Conservancy will work with land owners and the government to promote and facilitate the establishment of such reserves in ecologically sensitive lands identified in the Integrated Conservation Plan. Management guidance and assistance will be provided for these reserves in order to enforce the intent of the law. Unique biological communities, key watersheds, and wildlife corridors will be protected in this manner.

Water Basin Protection - Strategies will be developed and implemented to reduce water pollution and siltation, preserve natural vegetation along the rivers and at their headwaters, and reduce activities such as dike and canal building, which affect natural water cycles.

Promotion of Compatible Development - Through environmental education, awareness raising, demonstration projects, and technical assistance, the Conservancy will promote the adoption of sustainable, nondestructive economic activities in the Pantanal Bioreserve. Examples of this include: agricultural practices not dependent on heavy chemical inputs; well-planned ecotourism; well-managed commercial fisheries; and low impact cattle ranching. In addition, the program will work with government agencies and private interest groups, such as land owners' associations, in order to create a constituency for conservation and promote the adoption of environmentally sound development policies.

Long Term Monitoring and Research - Continuous monitoring of water quality, hydrological cycles, wildlife populations, and ecological systems will yield an understanding of the broad dynamics of the Cuiabá River Basin ecosystem and allow detection of long-term threats and measures of evaluating the success of the defined strategies.

Economic Assessment - Fundamental to the success of the planning effort is the study of the economic structure and dynamics of the municipalities located within the water basin and the establishment of a series of development alternatives for the region. Profiles of the principal economic activities will be developed as an input to help assess development alternatives. Local retention of revenue is considered to be of critical importance in prioritizing the assessment.

The Pantanal is a region particularly receptive to community outreach and landowner cooperation strategies. The Pantaneiro culture, with its deep love for nature, appreciates the value of conservation. Guided by the Integrated Conservation Plan, the Ecotrópica Foundation, with the technical and financial support of The Nature Conservancy, will act as a catalyst to consensus and take action towards achieving the objectives of the Cuiabá River Conservation and Compatible Development Plan. By translating local attitudes into actions, the Pantanal Program's goal is to ensure the preservation of the natural bio-hydrologic characteristics and ecological processes essential to the survival of this important component of the Pantanal ecosystem. In doing so, this international partnership will lead to better technical information about this complex ecosystem, which can be applied to broader regional conservation and development considerations.

4. Long Term Protection Fund

The conservation processes initiated by the actions outlined above must be maintained over the long term. The Nature Conservancy through its Brasil Verde Conservation Campaign, and Ecotrópica through its partnership with the Conservancy, will seek private and multilateral agency support to carry out the Pantanal Program. Looking at medium-term funding needs, the program hopes to establish an endowment fund for this purpose through a debt-for-nature transaction. Brazilian foreign debt purchased at a discount will be exchanged for twenty-year government conservation bonds, the annual yields of which will be used to:

a. pay the salaries of rangers, environmental educators, and community outreach personnel;

b. repair and maintain infrastructure and equipment in the national park and in the private reserve;

c. support patrolling, research, and monitoring activities;

d. support demonstration projects and provide technical assistance for environmentally sound development;

e. provide financial support necessary for the Ecotrópica Foundation to administer the program.

The Nature Conservancy has successfully completed debt-for-nature transactions in many countries, including Brazil, and has broad experience in the creation of conservation funds.


Past experience in developing countries has time and again demonstrated that only by taking human needs and economic realities into account can a conservation initiative succeed. Practical alternatives to environmentally unsound practices must be provided to local populations, and development policies must be changed to take conservation needs and values into account. This is best accomplished by working closely with governments, economic interest groups, and local people. The Nature Conservancy's Pantanal Program will be managed in accordance with this philosophy.

The Pantanal is one of the most precious natural treasures on Earth. Its vast watery wilderness, teeming with wildlife, makes it as fascinating as it is irreplaceable. Yet for all its majesty, the Pantanal is a fragile land. Being a wetland, it is vulnerable to heavy-handed human activities, and being so diverse, it has much to lose. Events in other great wetlands of our planet, such as the Everglades, have shown us how quickly and irretrievably our carelessness can destroy our natural heritage.

There is an alternative future for the Pantanal. By taking bold action now, we can prevent history from repeating itself and save this delicate ecosystem. By preserving critical habitat, strengthening protected areas, protecting watersheds, and promoting environmentally sound economic activities, we can ensure that future generations will know the majesty of the Pantanal as we did.


Alho, C.J.R. and T.E. Lacher Jr. and H.C. Gonçalvez. 1988. Environmental Degradation in the Pantanal Ecosystem. 38: 164-171.

Carley, M. and I. Christie. 1993. Managing Sustainable Development. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Couto, E. L., J.M. Dietz, R.E. Mumford, and G.B. Wetterberg. 1975. Sugestões para Criaçao do Parque Nacional do Pantanal. Report available at the Universidade de Viçosa - Brazil.

Diário de Cuiabá. 1992. Vamos Salvar o Rio Cuiabá. 4/25/92. Cuiabá, Mato Grosso. p.01.

Ehrenfeld, D.W. 1970. Biological Conservation in Soulé, M.E. and B.A. Wilcox (eds.), Conservation Biology: An Evolucionary-Ecological Perspective. 1980. p.325.

EMBRAPA. 1993. Piano Diretor do Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária do Pantanal - CPAC. Ministério da Agricultural. Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária. Brasília.

Foster, R.B. 1980. Heterogeneity and Disturbance in Tropical Vegetation in Soulé, M.E. and B.A. Wilcox (eds.), Conservation Biology: An Evolucionary-Ecological Perspective. pp. 75-92.

Kushlan, J.A. and P.C. Frohring. 1986. The history of the southern Florida Wood Stork population. Wilson Bulletin 98:368-386.

Mittermeier, R.A., I. Gusmão Câmara, M.T. Jorge Pádua and J. Blanck. 1990. Conservation in the Pantanal of Brazil., 24 Oryx 103. 1990.

Ogden, J.C. 1978. Recent population, trends of colonial wading birds on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. Pages 135-153 in A. Sprunt, IV, J.C. Ogden, and S. Winckler, editors. Wading birds. National Audubon Society Research Report Number 7. National Audubon Society, New York, New York.

Organization of American States. 1984. Integrated Regional Developing Planning: Guidelines and Case Studies from OAS Experience. Washington.

Prance, G.T. and G.B. Schaller. 1982. Preliminary study of some vegetation types of the Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Brittonia 34: pp. 228-251.

Pyle, R.M. 1980. Management of Nature Reserves in Soulé, M.E. and B.A. Wilcox (eds.), Conservation Biology: An Evolutionary-Ecological Perspective. pp. 319-327.

Robertson, W.B. Jr. and J. A. Kushlan. 1984. The southern Florida avifauna. In: Gleason, P.J. (Ed.) Environments of South Florida: Present and Past. Miami Geological Society, Coral Gables, FL. pp. 219-257.

Schmidheiny, S. 1992. Changing Course - A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment. The MIT Press, London.

The Nature Conservancy and Fundação Brasileira para a Conservação da Natureza. 1992. Rapid Ecological Assessment of the Pantanal National Park, Brazil. Unpublished report.

UNDP. 1973. Hydrological studies of the Upper Paraguay River Basin (Pantanal) 1966-72. Technical Report UNESCO/UNDP BRA. 66. 521. Paris.

Enhanced Decision Making

Warren Viessman, Jr.1

1 Associate Dean for Academic Programs, University of Florida, 312 Weil Hall, P.O. Box 116550, Gainesville, Florida 32611-6550, USA

Water management is everyone's business. Everyone has a stake in seeing that future decisions regarding the way in which water is managed are more holistic in nature and more in tune with the views of the many publics involved. Communications networks linking agencies proposing how to manage the nation's waters and those caring about the nature of the management styles proposed have often been weak or disrupted. A melding of views must be achieved, the challenge is to bring this about.


Every stakeholder should be involved in planning and decision making processes. Total involvement is required. All of us are stakeholders and we must learn to accept a forum view rather than a parochial one.

Planning and management agencies should seek invitations by other agencies, interest groups, and organizations to enter into cooperative partnerships. Cultivating relationships among stakeholder groups facilitates resolution of disagreements. Establishing networks facilitates the development of programs that can meet the interests of those at the table.


Entrenched traditions of agencies, rules of law, and social customs resist modification and often constrain good water management. But by exploring alternative ways of solving problems, identifying the pros and cons of implementing various options, and by articulating payoffs that could result from change, reforms can be brought about. The roles of the federal and state water agencies need re-defining. Changes in program emphasis announced by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1987 are an example. But it is not enough to say that changes will be made, they must be real, and not just ploys to ensure continued funding for old ventures.

Planners and managers should be sensitive to the impacts their proposals may have on other governments and/or agencies. What is considered best at one vantage point is not necessarily the best at another, and plans for action should be developed in recognition of such differences.

Since the demise of the Water Resources Council (WRC) in 1982, there has been a vacuum at the federal level in providing a water policy and management overview. This missing link needs filling. The WRC provided a forum that no longer exists. It was designing a format for cataloging the nation's water problems and identifying options for dealing with them. It was recognizing the special problems associated with the protection of natural systems and it was creating an ethic of more reasoned and more conservative water use. It was providing a forum for a state-federal partnership. Furthermore, the Council was taking a look at the “big picture” a look that more parochial agencies could not, or would not, take. The value of having some type of council or water board is widely recognized. But the “turf-protection” attitude that exists in Congress and the Administration impedes its development.

Regional, international, and global water management institutions must also be designed and implemented. Cities, counties, slates, and even nations, are often too limited in jurisdiction to deal appropriately with water issues that transcend their boundaries. A broad understanding of the functioning of entire ecosystems must become the basis for unified action.

Finally, we must find a way to overcome the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY), syndrome. Problems associated with water management are often compounded by blocking actions of those who may be in agreement with the need to solve a problem but do not want it solved in their locality. This encourages continued malpractices, and delays even incremental improvements.


Too many believe that water should be provided free, and that they should be able to use it in any way they see fit. But questions must be raised relative to the costs to be incurred by various water management options and the benefits to be gained, and by whom, of implementing them. With federal funding cutbacks, state and local governments will have to bear an increasingly larger share of costs.

We are going to have to take a hard look at our national priorities and reconsider how water management fits in. A reshaping of priorities for allocating the nation's assets is in order. We can't fund additional water management initiatives out of new money when there is none. What must be done is to shift resources from areas of excess indulgence, to those in need, the water environment being a case in point. Untouchables will have to be touched, but there are few other viable options.


Planning and management agencies should aggressively move to strengthen and/or establish partnerships with relevant publics (Environmental Advisory Board, 1991). But this partnering must be based on an understanding that the missions, legislative mandates, and administrative policies among partners may be very different. It requires that differences in view be identified and accepted, and that commonalities in interest be sought as the building blocks for consensus. The goal should be to ensure that there are no real losers, that all receive some spoils in pursuing a common target. Partners must recognize that tradeoffs must be made to improve the collective whole. A necessary condition for establishing mutual trust is that partnering arrangements be open, frank and honest. Unless that condition is met, there will be little incentive for meaningful cooperation.


Education and communication are fundamental elements in shaping the direction of water policy. Every citizen should be taught to accept a moral obligation to protect the earth from abuses by governments and individuals and to strive to bring about a more environmentally conscious electorate. And progress along these lines is being made.

For example, in 1983, the Texas Society of Professional Engineers became convinced that an informed citizenry was a prerequisite to solving the state's water problems (Smerdon, 1985). Farsighted leaders saw the value of incorporating information on water resources in the curricula of elementary and secondary schools. It was believed that benefits would extend from students to their parents through a student-parent network.


Planning is for people, and it is their vision of the future that must be captured. They, not the planners should set the specifications. Furthermore, the public should be used as a sounding board for suggesting reformulations of existing water projects and programs. Planners must learn to identify and embrace public views and perceptions at the outset.


A troublesome issue is that of dealing with risk. There are problems surrounding the quantification of risk, the perception of risk, and the level of risk to be accepted by society (Keith, 1986). Unfortunately, there are not many good models for risk communication to the public. There is a great need for education on the part of both those who understand the likelihood of danger and those who only perceive that danger. Scientists are often not able to converse adequately with the public or to deal with emotion rather than reason. The policy maker, on the other hand, must be able to operate in an arena of uncertainty and public fear, and at the same time bring some rationality into judgments about levels of risk to accept. There is a need for targeted risk assessments and risk benefit analyses. And the public view must be included, up-front, in policy designs where risk and uncertainty are issues. The costs and benefits of reducing risk must be more clearly articulated.


The technologic capability for addressing water management problems is staggering. But exploitation of its potential is constrained by our inability to apply it within the realities of political and social systems. Scientific and technical understanding should be united with the goals of society. Optimal technical approaches may be, and often are, socially unacceptable, and compromises usually have to be struck. And these settlements must be based on a blending of technical understanding and public perception. It is incumbent upon technicians to exercise every measure available to them to ensure that the public view is understood and incorporated in their designs.


Formulating water policies which effectively address public views requires providing the right forums for the circumstances. Two types of forums are needed, those related to resolving conflicts (consent building), and those related to solving problems that transcend normal political and/or agency boundaries (system-encompassing). To deal with conflicting interests, the principal stakeholders (publics), mast be brought together in an atmosphere mat encourages cooperative exchanges of views (Babbitt, 1986). The key is to make negotiation rather than litigation the vehicle for settlement.

Workable strategies are needed to enhance die ability of agencies to deal with the various publics as they address water resources problems. Agencies should work to provide forums in which all of the involved publics can explore mutually acceptable courses of action.


Water management plans must be proactive. They must be pace-setters in affecting water management decisions. This is important because water management decisions frequently default to regulators and the courts which rarely have the expertise to prescribe appropriate courses of action.

Water management plans should be designed to guide water resources policy making. Adjustments in philosophy and plan definition by planners will be required, and support of a more positive planning role by legislative bodies and implementing agencies will be needed. There will have to be a more interactive interface between planners and the public. Identification of potential sources of conflict will have to be made an integral part of the planning endeavor so that these conflicts can be dealt with up-front, and options for resolving them sought before combative situations emerge. Because water management is heavily influenced by regulatory requirements, it is crucial that these measures be the result of carefully devised plans and the policies that flow from them. Water management guided by regulatory measures and court actions is destined to be parochial and sub-optimal.

Unfortunately, the adoption of effective planning models has been hampered by the separation of planning and implementing authorities, turf protection attitudes, inadequate and poorly paid planning staffs, short sighted focusing of efforts, lack of objectivity, poor understanding of the planning role, and limited funds. The states, in particular, have been deficient in their ability to sustain comprehensive water resources planning functions. Thinking imaginatively about better ways to plan and manage has not been a strong point in our government.


Water policies should be ecosystem-oriented. Agencies must begin to adopt broader problem-solving approaches (Sheer, 1989). Regional system-encompassing planning and management strategies should be devised and institutions to accommodate them must be designed. And the public must be acquainted with efficiencies that could be gained by taking a more holistic view. By creating such an awareness, the public can become an identifier of options rather than a reactor to them.


Water management policies of the 1990s must be more be holistic in nature. Institutional reforms consistent with this view must be sought and implemented. A variety of options are available, but the best approach is to tailor the changes to fit the circumstances presented. A uniform modification of institutions is not recommended. The challenge is to find the key to what works where and to move forward with imaginative a contemporary agendas.


1. Babbitt, B., “Shifting Roles in Resource Management,” oral presentation, 1988 Woodlands Conference on New State Roles: Environment, Resources and the Economy, Woodlands, Texas, November 1988.

2. Environmental Advisory Board (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), “Report to the Chief of Engineers, 50th Meeting, Environmental Advisory Board,” HQ, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C., Nov. 5-7, 1991.

3. Keith, S.J., “Science/Facts Versus Perception in the Public Decision-Making Process,” Ground Water, Vol. 24, No. 3, May-June 1986, p. 298.

4. Sheer, D.P., “Management of Water Resource Systems”, National Forum, Vol. LXIX, No. 1, Winter 1989, pp. 9,10.

5. Smerdon, E.T., “Education-Key to Dealing With Social and Environmental Objectives,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 115, No. 1, January 1989, pp. 44-45.

Sub-track: Water Law and Institutional Arrangements

Impact of Multilateral Financing for the Arenal-Tempisque Irrigation Project in the Legal and Institutional Framework of Water Law in Costa Rica
Legal and Institutional Aspects of Water Charges in Brazil
New Instruments to Improve Water Management in México
Organizational Structures for Interstate and International Coordination of Water Management in La Plata Basin
Sustainable Development and Management of Water Resources - A River Basin Approach
Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans: Building the Institutional Capacity to Restore Beneficial Uses
Integrated Water Management in Chile: An Ongoing Process

Impact of Multilateral Financing for the Arenal-Tempisque Irrigation Project in the Legal and Institutional Framework of Water Law in Costa Rica

Rodrigo Barahona1

1 President, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (CEDARENA), Apartado 134-2050, San Pedro, Costa Rica
Note of the Editor: At the time of the publication of these proceedings, only the abstract in english of the presentation was available. Further details or the complete paper in Spanish may be available by contacting the author at the specified address.


During the period 1979-1983, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a loan for the First Phase of the Tempisque-Arenal irrigation project in Costa Rica.

In 1983, Costa Rica created the Groundwater, Drainage, and Irrigation National Service (SENARA), which consolidated the administrative entities dedicated to irrigation existing at the time. With the new law and operating guidelines, the Irrigation Districts were created under an special jurisdiction for water management.

In 1988, the loan agreements with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Venezuelan Investment Fund for the implementation of the Second Phase were ratified. In this phase, the SENARA needed to identify institutional cooperation with other entities, create the Coordinating Board of Irrigation Districts, and regulate land titles under district jurisdiction.

The Costa Rican Water Law of 1942 requires modifications to include the operation of irrigation projects, and to fit its measures for other water uses having their own legal and administrative ruling. The modification of this law must be conceived under the concept of integrated watershed management. Currently, there exist a number of law proposals.

Legal and Institutional Aspects of Water Charges in Brazil

Benedito P.F. Braga, Jr.1

1 Director, Hydrology Division, DAEE/Centro Tecnologico de Hidraulica, Escola Politecnica da Universidad de Sao Paulo; Av. Prof. Lucio Martins Rodrigues, 120, 05508-900 Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
Water resources management in the Brazilian context is a very complex issue for two main reasons: the vast territorial extension of the country (8.5 million km2) with its natural variability in terms of ecosystems, hydrology and sociopolitical organization and the existing federative system of administration that conflicts, to a certain extent, with the concept of using the watershed as the water resources planning unit. Considering that, from a political point of view, it is virtually impossible to change the administrative system of a federation of States, the proper management of water resources will require the articulation among the federal, state and municipal levels of decision. Moreover, nongovernmental organizations and the public in general should be effectively involved into the decision process.

From a technical point of view, the effective implementation of integrated water resources management in Brazil will depend on the adequate handling of three management instruments: a procedure for concession of the right of use, cost sharing mechanisms for multiple use projects and user charging schemes. These mechanisms should consider the socio-environmental diversity of the country which can be grouped into three main regions: a) Amazonia, northeast and central-west Brazil which need economic development to offset regional disparities; b) the ecological sensitive areas of Amazonia, Pantanal and southern coastline and c) the degraded urban and rural watersheds of the south and southeast in view of their need of conservation, restoration and environmental control.

Water charging is one of the above instruments that has received great attention, mainly from state governments, due to its possibility of generating resources to finance hydraulic works and other environmental measures at the watershed level. The process of charging has two main characters: to rationalize water use and conservation (user pays principle) and to internalize pollution costs (polluter pays principle). A pioneer federal law in Brazil regulating this matter is the Water Act, enacted in 1934 which suggests the polluter pays principle. According to its articles 111 and 112, if the interests of agriculture or industry so determined, and with previous administrative permission, waters could be polluted, but to compensate the consented favor, the farmers or industrial undertakers should indemnify the public and private sectors damaged.

Until 1979, the only legal instrument available was the Water Act. Federal Law 6662/79 is the first law after this long interregnum determining that the use of water for irrigation would be subject to charges (art. 21), Federal Law 6938/81, instituting the National Environmental Policy, predicts (art. 4, VII), the obligation of the polluter or predator to restore and/or indemnify from the damages of using environmental resources with economical purposes. To date there is no indication of application of these laws in practice.

The Federal Commission of 1988 (art. 20) assures to states and municipalities participation in revenues from the exploitation of hydropower in their territories. The matter was disciplined by Federal laws 7790/89 and 8001/90, constituting in the first case of effective and systematic application of the user pays principle in Brazil. Presently, the executive has submitted a project to the Congress (project of law 2249/91), defining water charging for different water uses as an instrument of the National Water Resources Policy (art. 4, 11). This will be implemented via tariff to be determined by the executive. Regarding the financial resources collected, the project does not stipulate to whom they will accrue or even the object of their application.

An important feature of the Brazilian case is the fact that states took the lead in the process of implementing water charges in the rivers of their domain. State of Sao Paulo, for example, the most developed state in the union has promulgated State law 7663/91 which in its article 14 allows the charge for water use including; derived waters, for public or industrial water supply systems, irrigation and other urban and rural users; used waters, for hydropower generation, navigation and recreation and dilution, for transport and assimilation of effluents from wastewater systems and other liquids of different nature. Other states, such as Ceara, Bahia, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goias e Mato Grosso and Pernambuco, are indifferent stages of implementing their state laws.

Presently, there is a great debate regarding the implementation of the federal project of law 2249/91 and its relation to the state initiatives underway. Apparently, the project has the merit of presenting a very comprehensive treatment of all the important aspects of water management but it centralizes the collection of charges in a federal agency which in turn will redistribute them among the participating states.

New Instruments to Improve Water Management in México

Jaime Collado1

1 Head, Hydrology and Water Resources Department, Méxican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA); P.O. Box 4-476, Cuernavaca, Morelos, C.P. 62431, México
Note of the Editor: At the time of the publication of these proceedings, only the abstract of the presentation was available. Further details or the complete paper may be available by contacting the author at the specified address.


The improvement of water management in Mexico required recently a combination of legal and institutional arrangements in order to overcome old inconveniences. The political process culminated in 1989 with the establishment of the National Water Commission (NWC), as the only authority in charge of water management.

The NWC is empowered to:

· regulate water allocations and concessions
· coordinate investments in the water sector
· ensure the conservation of water quality and the restoration of natural aquatic systems
· resolve conflicts among users in the transmission of water rights
· define priorities in each of the country's river basins
The NWC's governing body, chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, assures inter-sectoral coordination since its members are officials from all ministries involved in water management.

The main instruments for improving water management are the following five.

Watershed Councils: These are mechanisms through which federal, state, and municipal governments, users, and other interested groups share the responsibility of planning and managing the watershed's water resources. The council considers the river basin as the basic unit for water planning and management, and integrates both quantity and quality, as well as surface and ground water. Social participation is encouraged so that decisions are made taking into account all interested and affected parties. The main purpose of the council is to promote water pollution control and efficient water use.

Financial Water System: The core of this system is that those who benefit from water use or those polluting the environment have to contribute to the management of the resource i) in an equitable manner and in proportion to the benefits they derive or the degree of pollutants they generate, and ii) to the restoration and improvement of water quality in rivers and aquifers. The system is designed to gather a mixture of resources: federal and state subsidies, loans from national and international financial institutions, internal revenues generated from the payment of water rights and waste water permits, and private participation.

Public Registry and Water Rights: The objective of the registry is to keep track of all water rights transactions within users, and to provide them with legal certainty of their water rights. The allocation of water rights is granted through licenses or concessions in order to use the Nation's waters. With the registry the NWC can regulate the transmission of water rights in such a manner that proper consideration of third party effects and other externalities are taken into account.

Waste Water Permits: These permits, associated with water rights, are based on the principle that those who pollute should pay the cost of water treatment. However, to promote contamination abatement, it is less costly for a user to treat its waste water than to pay discharge rights. The regulations are simple and enforceable, according to an established set of quality standards and to the systematic monitoring and evaluation of water quality.

Water Utilities: One of the goals of the NWC is to provide the technical, administrative, and financial assistance to support the evolution of existing users systems and utilities, into autonomous, self-financing units. The main water utilities are irrigation users' associations, which manage subsystems of 10 to 15 thousand hectares, and drinking water and sewerage utilities, which provide services to all sizes of cities and towns. Today there are 186 irrigation users' associations in 78 large irrigation districts transferred to the users, which cover 3.2 million hectares representing 50% of the total irrigated land. As for potable water utilities there are 135 of them in cities with more than 50 thousand inhabitants.

The water rights and the permit systems coupled to the financial systems and complemented by standards and regulations are instruments that allow market mechanisms to improve water management, especially those issues related to allocation decisions and water use efficiency. These policy instruments are formally incorporated in the National Water Law, which was passed on December, 1992. Implementation strategies are presently under way, and the instruments are expected to be fully operational by the end of 1994.

Organizational Structures for Interstate and International Coordination of Water Management in La Plata Basin

Julio C. Fossati1

1 Director Técnico, Comité Hídrico de la Cuenca del Plata; Ayacucho 1157 - 6° B, 1111 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Note of the Editor: At the time of the publication of these proceedings, only the abstract in english of the presentation was available. Further details or the complete paper in spanish or portuguese is available by contacting the author at the specified address.


A quick review on the influence and impact of the water resources on the global economy, outlines the need of an appropriate coordination on water use and preservation, indicating the jurisdiction and constitutional faculties of the national and provincial states. Due to the fact that over 70% of the Argentine Republic territory is on arid or semi-arid areas, the water resources administration is a life-weight matter for the country development.

Showing and analyzing the differences between two institutional coordination organs: in the national field, the hydric basins committees (Comites de Cuencas Hidricas), and in the international field, the Hydric Committee on the La Plata Basin (Comite Hidrico de la Cuenca del Plata), which deals on a basin geographically shared among Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

A frame on water policies and a global project for the organs under study is formulated, in accordance with the institutional characteristics of the argentine political regime.

Sustainable Development and Management of Water Resources - A River Basin Approach

Gerald M. Hansler1

1 Executive Director, Delaware River Basin Commission, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628, USA
The water policy and governance track of this Interamerican Dialogue on Water Management is perhaps the most important facet in considering the relationships between sustainable development and water resources management. Will government completely stifle environmentally sound development, or let development run roughshod over natural resources, or provide a balance when considering both ends of the spectrum.

To me, sustainable development is characterized by the use of water for its many purposes:

· municipal and industrial water supply
· irrigation - agricultural and other
· waste assimilation capacity
· navigation
· recreation, including fish & wildlife habitat, and
· flood control
Whereas, water management deals with the regulation of those uses - and whether or not they should be sustained as is, abandoned, altered, or expanded.

In democratic societies, it is the legislative branch which establishes the policies for governance or regulation of water resources management. The executive branch is left to interpret their mandates, in varying degrees, based upon the legislative authority so bestowed. Administrative bodies in the executive sometimes exceed their authority, or fall short of performance, based upon the intent of the legislative mandates.

One sure-fire arrangement to assure unnecessary grid-lock in managing the water resources for sound sustainable development is to allow the splintering of water resource considerations into many different legislative committees. Policies declared through law enactments concerning energy production, agricultural irrigation, flood protection, navigation, water supply for municipal and industrial uses, fish and wildlife protection (including endangered species and wetland considerations), recreation, and waste assimilation capacity often are at cross, competing or conflicting purposes in the U.S.A. These laws enacted at the national level are generated by special interests with narrow viewpoints through myriad legislative committees.

Often, the executive departments and agencies implementing such specific and often narrow policies have their “hands tied” in making any decision - good or bad - because of the apparent veto power established in any single law relating to a specific water resource use or protection goal.

One important element when considering policy development dealing with water resources uses and protection is to avoid the possibility of absolute veto - no room for compromise, mitigation, or the use of common sense. Some flexibility is needed in the laws and policies which they enunciate to assure that local or regional decisions are made which do not give, in effect, any absolute veto power which supports an NGO's views of either “no development” or “development at any environmental cost.”

The “Clean Water Act” is an example of a reasonable law dealing with water quality protection. The states establish water quality standards based upon criteria developed by a national agency (U.S. E.P.A.). The states establish such standards through an open public process based upon a profile of each stream segment, a profile which includes:

· existing uses;

· existing water quality;

· ability to improve the water quality if it exceeds the national minimum standards of “fishable and swimmable” and is economically achievable;

· ability to protect and preserve high quality water if it now meets all legitimate uses; and

· the ability to determine if national “fishable and swimmable” standards cannot be met, and so establish a lesser standard, if a higher level of a proof can be shown to the satisfaction of the overview agency - the U.S. E. P. A.

This is a flexible approach in addressing one function of water resources regulation which impacts on sustainable development. Two important elements are enunciated in this policy - flexibility and the fact that decisions are made at the regional or local level (states), and not by a national czar.

A hybrid of this approach which has been very successful in providing flexibility and regional decision-making regarding water resources use and protection is the creation of a river basin or watershed based agency - such as the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). When formed in 1961 by laws enacted by Congress and four state legislatures, the five governments agreed to share their sovereignty in water resources management through a single agency which focused on a hydrologic unit, the Delaware River, Estuary, Bay and all their tributaries. It included both surface and groundwaters, as well as land uses related thereto.

The DRBC was mandated in the legislation to consider not just instream and ground water quality, but many other aspects of water resource protection and utilization (including development, both existing and new, sustainable or otherwise). Its powers also include regulation concerning:

· surface and ground water quantity through allocation
· waste discharges
· flood control
· fish, wildlife, and wetlands protection
· recreation (including parks)
· hydroelectric uses
· navigation uses
· water conservation
· instream flow considerations
In its thirty-two years of existence, the DRBC has exercised its powers in all of these areas, and has made its decisions for project approval based upon plans, policies, rules and regulations - adopted by a simple majority vote of the five members to the DRBC. Those members or commissioners are the governors of the four states of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, plus the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. They have alternate commissioners who act in their stead, and are usually heads of the environmental/water agencies.

Is development sustained in the Delaware River Basin? Regarding the impact or influence of water resources regulation on development, it has been sustained. One of the primary purposes of establishing the DRBC, as stated in its Compact, was to:

“...make secure and protect present developments within the slates....”

Again, four state legislatures and Congress approved that purpose.

All existing public projects such as water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, significant parks, and reservoirs are included in our dynamic (ever-changing) comprehensive plan. Major investor-owned water related projects are also included.

Our comprehensive plan also includes plans, policies, rules, and regulations concerning the many different aspects of water regulation. These plans, policies, rules, and regulations comprise the yardstick by which we review and act upon any new development.

So, any new development cannot:

· conflict with an existing one, and

· it must be constructed and operated in accordance with our comprehensive plan and basin water code.

Are our policies, rules, and regulations overly restrictive so as to thwart even environmentally sound development? We think not. That is because their formulation has been developed with the advice of the basin water users in the first instance.

Our formal advisory committees are formed with a spectrum of the public interest (users) being represented - not just no-growth advocates on the one hand, or bull-dozing developers at any cost to the environment on the other. Based upon any specific regulatory issue being considered, such as water quality standards, effluent standards, ground-water management, water conservation, etc., the appropriate advisory committee first agrees to a common set of facts. This separates irrelevant or false information which any segment of the “public interest” may propound from the pool of true information upon which some decision would be made. Next, the advisory committee considers alternate forms for resolving the apparent gap in water resources management - alternate regulations, best management practice recommendations, or at what level should program elements be acted upon. Then, a final recommendation is made to the DRBC for official rule-making, which again is a wide-open process including briefings, public notice, and public hearing before a vote of the five commissioners.

Waste treatment plants, surface and ground water withdrawals, pipeline river crossings, reservoirs, and any construction of a certain size which impacts on the basin's water resources must be reviewed and approved by the DRBC. We consider flood impacts, wetlands, water quality, ground water levels, streamflows, depletive water use, and infringement on existing development in one docket decision. The applicant for a new project need not jump through a multiple of “flaming hoops” within the DRBC.

A state or federal agency, on their own, can require a more restrictive condition relative to a project, but not less than those incorporated in DRBC's comprehensive plan and water code. And often, DRBC's requirements are more stringent than national standards - because the decision to do so was made on the regional profile, by regional officials, based on advice of people living in the region.

In summary, flexibility has been allowed in making decisions concerning development because of the power and authorities given in the Delaware River Basin Compact. The decisions are made at the regional macro or micro level, instead of inside the beltway in Washington, D.C. And finally, someone can develop a new project in an environmentally sound fashion without the threat of DRBC disapproval because of some minuscule environmental “veto” requirement. This is because, the Delaware River Basin Compact, that policy document governing our actions, clearly states that:

“The commission shall approve a project whenever it finds and determines that such project would not substantially impair or conflict with the comprehensive plan....”

Thank you.

Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans: Building the Institutional Capacity to Restore Beneficial Uses

John H. Hartig1

1 Associate Professor, Wayne State University, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, 5050 Anthony Wayne Drive, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA

The Great Lakes are an unparalleled resource shared between the United States and Canada which represent one-fifth the total standing freshwater on the Earth's surface. Over 37.5 million people live in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem with more than half dependent on the lakes for drinking water supplies. The Great Lakes are also used for transportation, commerce, energy production, and recreational activities, among other beneficial uses. Resource limitations of the Great Lakes and an increasing demand for greater and more diverse use of them has led to an urgent need for more cooperative and coordinated approaches to Great Lakes' management.

Use of an ecosystem approach, as called for in the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, has changed traditional approaches to water management. The ecosystem approach holistically accounts for the interrelationships among land, air, water, and all living things, including humans; and involves all user groups in comprehensive management. Currently, there are 43 degraded Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin where locally-designed, ecosystem approaches are being used to develop and implement remedial action plans (RAPs) to restore beneficial uses (Figure 1). Thirty-nine of the 43 Areas of Concern have either a stakeholder group, coordinating committee, public advisory council, or comparable institutional structure broadly representative of societal, economic, and environmental interests in an Area of Concern. These RAP institutional structures have been established to coordinate and facilitate RAP development and build the institutional capacity to restore beneficial uses. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the Great Lakes RAP program to the Interamerican Dialogue on Water Management and evaluate the experiences with institutional capacity building through RAP institutional structures for potential application in other regions in the Western Hemisphere.

Figure 1. Areas of Concern and Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) considered under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA)


The Great Lakes RAP Program originated from a 1985 recommendation from the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes Water Quality Board and was formalized in the 1987 amendments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Agreement calls for federal governments, in cooperation with state and provincial governments, to ensure that RAPs incorporate a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach to use restoration, and to ensure that the public is consulted in all actions undertaken pursuant to RAPs (United States and Canada 1987).

Areas of Concern are defined as geographic areas that fail to meet the objectives of the Agreement where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use or the area's ability to support aquatic life. Impairment of beneficial use means a change in the physical, chemical, or biological integrity sufficient to cause any of the following 14 use impairments:

· restrictions on fish or wildlife consumption;
· tainting of fish and wildlife flavor;
· degradation of fish and wildlife populations;
· fish tumors or other deformities;
· bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems;
· degradation of benthos;
· restrictions on dredging activities;
· eutrophication or undesirable algae;
· restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor problems;
· beach closings;
· degradation of aesthetics;
· added costs to agriculture or industry;
· degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations; or
· loss of fish and wildlife habitat.
RAPs are an iterative, action-planning process used to identify the responsibility and timeframe for implementing remedial and preventive actions necessary to restore impaired uses.

Specifically, each RAP must:

· define the environmental problems, including geographic extent of the area affected, using detailed maps and surveillance information;

· identify beneficial uses impaired;

· describe the causes of the problems and identify all known sources of pollutants;

· identify remedial actions proposed to restore beneficial uses;

· identify a schedule for implementing remedial actions;

· identify jurisdictions and agencies responsible for implementing and regulating remedial actions;

· describe the process for evaluating remedial program implementation and regulating remedial measures; and

· describe the surveillance and monitoring activities that will be used to track program effectiveness and eventual confirmation that uses have been restored.

RAPs are submitted to the International Joint Commission for review and comment at three stages. Stage I defines problems and use impairments in Areas of Concern and identifies causes. Stage II presents remedial and preventive measures, while Stage III confirms restoration of uses. RAPs use a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral approach within the local community to restore beneficial uses.


To address the GLWQA charges to use an ecosystem approach and ensure public participation, state/provincial/federal governments have provided leadership in establishing RAP institutional structures broadly representative of societal, economic, and environmental interests. These RAP institutional structures are changing the way governments, communities, and other stakeholders make environmental decisions. No longer are environmental decisions being made in distant board rooms of capitol cities. Decision-making power is being shared with stakeholders at the local level (i.e. Areas of Concern). As a result, governments are building the capacity to restore beneficial uses.

Incorporating the ecosystem approach into RAPs has meant viewing different organizations, agencies, and stakeholders as equal members of a team in a partnership to identify and solve environmental problems (Hartig and Vallentyne 1989). There has been a shift from command-and-control to collaboration-and-consensus-building. This shift has, in many Areas of Concern, resulted in a reformation of governmentally mandated planning processes. In essence, RAPs are attempting to overcome environmental decision-making gridlock by developing a coordinated, multi-stakehholder response to restoring impaired beneficial uses in Areas of Concern (Hartig and Zarull 1992).

Implementing the ecosystem approach is more about process than product. Although there is no single best approach to developing and implementing RAPs, it is clear that a successful process will: be inclusive; share decision-making power; be integrative; work to achieve a planned, agreed-upon, and flexible road map to restoration; and provide evidence of commitment and continuing accountability (International Joint Commission 1991). A major outcome of this is the creation of accountability on the part of those responsible for the wide range of remedial and preventive actions needed. Most governments have opted for a RAP process without elaborate rules, regulations, or guidance, and a focus on results. Sustaining the RAP process will, among other things, require: continued public involvement, achieving effective communication and cooperation, creatively acquiring resource commitments, and building a record of success (Hartig and Zarull 1992). Both short-term and long-term milestones and benchmarks must be celebrated. Examples of milestones and benchmarks include: government management actions, remedial and preventive actions by sources, changes in discharge quality, reductions in contaminant loadings, changes in ambient air/water/sediment concentrations, reductions in bioaccumulation rates, biological recovery, use restoration, and increased human use of resources.

The environmental problems in Great Lakes Areas of Concern are societal problems that will require societal solutions. Governments can play a critical role in helping solve collectively society's environmental problems. Governments have the ability and resources to facilitate a coordinated societal response to such environmental problems. Governments alone do not have sufficient financial resources to rehabilitate Areas of Concern, but governments do have substantial scientific and technical expertise. Indeed, much can be accomplished by pooling resources, increasing coordination, cutting red-tape, and using common sense. The traditional command-and-control regulatory approach of government has often led to institutional gridlock. Through the RAP process, governments in the Great Lakes Basin are now employing a management/facilitation approach, which permits distribution of responsibilities and shares decision-making power.

Stakeholders in Areas of Concern have been instrumental in helping governments be more responsive to and responsible for restoring degraded areas of the Great Lakes. In essence, RAPs are reinventing the role of government in management of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Through new institutional frameworks, RAPs are fostering cooperative learning, consensus building, and better-informed decision-making. Osborne and Gaebler (1992) have effectively described this process of reinventing government and identified 10 principles for entrepreneurial public organizations which demonstrate more effective governmental roles in solving societal problems. Table 1 presents these principles as developed by Osborne and Gaebler (1992) and selected RAP examples of how federal, state, and provincial governments in the Great Lakes Basin are helping creatively solve environmental problems. These RAP examples are intended to provide some specific examples of successful, entrepreneurial roles of government in rehabilitating Great Lakes Areas of Concern (Hartig et al. 1993).

Based on a review of the Great Lakes RAP program, comprehensive water resource management is most effective if it is mission-driven and not rule driven. Successful RAP institutional structures are empowered to pursue their mission of restoring impaired uses. Empowerment of RAP institutional structures is demonstrated by: a focus on watersheds or other naturally-defined boundaries to address upstream causes and sources, and obtain commitment from within the watershed for implementation; an inclusive and shared decision-making process; clear responsibility and sufficient authority to pursue the mission; an ability to secure and pool resources according to priorities for action using nonprofit organizations or other creative mechanisms; flexibility and continuity in order to achieve an agreed-upon road map to use restoration; commitment to broad-based education and public outreach; and an open and iterative RAP process that strives for continuous improvement (Hartig and Law 1993).

RAP institutional structures represent a forum for cooperative learning to generate a common understanding of problems and build consensus for action throughout the watershed. To ensure linkages of RAPs to other related planning initiatives, governments must adopt and reward cooperative (rather than competitive) approach to working with other stakeholders, agencies, and organizations. Further, open communication and information networks must be developed across and within public agencies and organizations, and RAP institutional structures should be used as mechanisms for coordinating planning and program functions at the local level. This locally-led approach to coordination through RAP institutional structures should be complemented with governmental efforts to ensure intra- and interagency initiatives are complementary and reinforcing by: explicitly recognizing the need for coordination and integration of interrelated programs in agency mission statements; and incorporating institutional arrangements necessary for the desired coordination into agency work plans.

Government agencies will undoubtedly have to embrace/endorse new RAP institutional structures to ensure a smooth transition from RAP development to implementation. Therefore, it is important that governments adopt long-term, visionary goals for Areas of Concern and commit to a customer-driven and value-added process of continuous improvement that shares decision-making power.

Table 1. Selected Remedial Action Plan examples of applying principles for entrepreneurial public organizations as developed by Osborne and Gaebler (1992).



Steer more than row

New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the agency responsible for RAP development, contracted with Monroe County to work through its Water Quality Management Advisory Committee to develop the Rochester Embayment RAP. NYSDEC acts as a catalyst and facilitator through an interagency technical working group to oversee RAP development and implementation.

Empower communities rather than simply deliver services

Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada have encouraged local ownership of the Hamilton Harbour RAP. They have removed barriers and provided seed-money and technical assistance. The Hamilton Harbour Stakeholder Group developed goals and principles to guide RAP development. The RAP is not a government document, but a community-based plan developed and owned by stakeholders.

Encourage competition rather than monopoly

There are 168 combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the Rouge River Basin (Michigan). Considerable effort has been placed on development of a comprehensive strategy to abate CSO problems and the Rouge River RAP is in the implementation phase. If a community has an approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that has an enforceable schedule and is consistent with the RAP, then it receives a higher priority for funding under Michigan's State Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) Program. This SRLF Program provides low interest loan assistance for water pollution control projects. Such competition for low interest loans encourages innovation and excellence.

Driven by missions, not rules

RAPs are unique in that they focus on restoring 14 use impairments identified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The International Joint Commission helped facilitate agreement on a set of listing/delisting guidelines to be able to make a determination on when these uses are impaired and when they could be considered restored. Each Stage I RAP is intended to reach broad-based agreement on use impairments in an Area of Concern. These use impairments are intended to drive the RAP process, help stakeholders and organizations pursue their mission of restoring uses, and achieve greater accountability.

Fund outcomes rather than inputs

In Thunder Bay (Ontario), a six-staged, four-year habitat rehabilitation project began in 1990. Contributions from the Great Lakes Cleanup Fund and various agencies totalled $2,305,000 and $3,006,000, respectively. The project will create/restore degraded and lost nearshore aquatic habitat in four tributaries, rehabilitate the littoral zone, stabilize wetlands, restore riverine diversity, and increase abundance of fish and wildlife populations in Thunder Bay. Emphasis was intentionally placed on accountability, performance, and results.

Meet the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, a Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) and four technical committees advised Wisconsin DNR on development of their RAP. Initially, the CAC identified the ten most pressing problems and a “Desired Future State” for the lower river and bay. The “Desired Future State” includes: a healthy bay; a balanced, edible fishery; water-based, recreational opportunities; good water quality; balanced shoreline use; productive wildlife and plant communities; and an economical, transportation network. Wisconsin DNR and stakeholders are implementing the RAP to achieve this citizen-developed “Desired Future State.”

Concentrate on earning, not just spending

For Ontario's 17 Areas of Concern, the Canada-Ontario Agreement RAP Steering Committee commissioned a RAP benefits study which would help move the Canadian RAP Program from plan development to implementation. Assuming implementation of all 17 RAPs and achievement of water quality objectives, it was estimated that annual economic benefits would be $ 270 million (1989 Canadian dollars). This substantial economic benefit of Canadian RAPs helps all stakeholders recognize that they are investing for a return.

Invest in prevention rather than cure

In the St. Clair River Area of Concern, Dow Canada has voluntarily separated its waste streams at its Sarnia, Ontario facility, which allows Dow to recover, reuse, and recycle process wastes, thereby virtually eliminating the potential for spills and harmful discharges. Such unforced and unsolicited actions toward pollution prevention and waste reduction have been described as “invisible miracles” of RAPs.

Decentralize authority

In an effort to decentralize authority for cleaning up the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Canal, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management established, for the first time in its history, a regional office outside Indianapolis. This office, located in Gary, IN, houses the RAP Coordinator and other environmental staff. Their purpose is to coordinate programs at the local level and facilitate the work of the Citizens' Advisory for the Remediation of the Environment (CARE) Committee in development and implementation of the RAP. The CARE Committee is made up of the Mayors of Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond, representatives of industry, education, small business, and environmentalists.

Solve problems by leveraging the marketplace, rather than simply creating public programs

The Cuyahoga River RAP Coordinating Committee (CCC) is a broad-based, 35 member institutional structure established by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop their RAP in Cleveland, Ohio, With the encouragement of Ohio EPA, the CCC created a nonprofit organization under Ohio law named the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization. The purpose of this nonprofit organization is to support the goals of the RAP with additional resources for planning, and to develop and support programs on public involvement, education, and research. Funding support has come from foundations and other institutions. This nonprofit organization plays an important entrepreneurial role which cannot be performed by traditional, command-and-control bureaucracies.


There is no doubt that environment, economy, and society are inextricably linked and mutually dependent. Therefore, human activities can no longer be managed in a piecemeal fashion and new institutional arrangements will be necessary to account for interrelationships and mutual dependencies. As the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) noted in its book, Our Common Future:

Most of the institutions facing those challenges tend to be independent, fragmented, and working to relatively narrow mandates with closed decision processes. Those responsible for managing natural resources and protecting the environment are institutionally separated from those responsible for managing the economy. The real world of interlocked economic and ecological systems will not change; the policies and institutions must.

Considerable progress is being made in re-orienting Great Lakes decision-makers to a more inclusive remedial action planning process that shares decision-making power with all stakeholders and achieves local ownership. RAP institutional structures have been instrumental in implementing locally-designed ecosystem approaches and building the capacity to restore beneficial uses. Such RAP processes have been described as a step toward grassroots ecological democracy in the Great Lakes Basin. In the spirit of cooperative learning, continued emphasis should be placed on international sharing of experiences with institutional structures for comprehensive water resource management in order to learn from each others' experiences.


Hartig, J.H. and J.R. Vallentyne. 1989. Use of an ecosystem approach to restore degraded areas of the Great Lakes. Ambio 18:423-428.

Hartig, J.H. and M.A. Zarull. 1992. Under RAPs: Towards Grassroots Ecological Democracy in the Great Lakes Basin. University of Michigan Press, Ann. Arbor, Michigan.

Hartig, J.H. and N.L. Law. 1993. Institutional frameworks to direct the development and implementation of remedial action plans. Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 52 pp.

Hartig, J.H., K. Fuller, D. Epstein, T. Coape-Arnold, and A. Hottman. 1993. Great Lakes RAPs are a hit! Water, Environment, and Technology 5:52-57.

International Joint Commission. 1991. Stage 2 Remedial Action Plans: Content and Key Issues. Windsor, Ontario, Canada, 47 pp.

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Integrated Water Management in Chile: An Ongoing Process

Gustavo Manriquez L.1 and Jaime Muñoz R.1, authors; presented by Carmen Luz Gutierrez²

1 General Directorate of Water, Ministry of Public Works, Santiago, Chile;

² Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works, Region V, Melgarejo 669 Edif. Intendencia, Piso 14, Valparaiso, Chile

Note of the Editor: At the time of the publication of these proceedings, only the abstract in english of the presentation was available. Further details or the complete paper in spanish may be available by contacting the authors and presenter at the specified address.


The current water legislation in Chile started in 1981 and has been produced within a framework of a social market economy. This legislation phased out through a series of new regulations many inefficiencies by introducing new water use and adjudication policies driven by National interests.

When the new authorities took office, the President of Chile delegated to the Ministry of Public Works, more specifically, to the General Directorate of Water, the responsibility of studying of the Water Code modification. This study would include unforeseen situations, establish policy in accordance to the national interests and the new government priorities, and to correct mistakes or omissions made in the previous code.

One of the goals of the current administration is to establish clear and definite national water policy. This will be done by taking specific actions in order to achieve rational and sustainable use of water resources in accordance with the economic development needs, taking into consideration the higher interests of the country, and conciliated with the legitimate rights of the private sector.

The objective of this presentation is to analyze the ambience under which the water code has evolved, by indicating the theoretical economic basis driving water adjudication rights, and analyzing their consequences. Likewise, this presentation will indicate which are principles served as the framework for national water policy reflex of the country's needs and desires. This national water policy will determine the actions for a more holistic approach for economic and social development as implemented in Chile. Finally, the presentation will describe the process of change under which the legal modifications of the Water Code took place, especially those regarding the restoration of water as a national interest of public use, implementation and enforcement, water resource restoration and protection policies, integrated watershed management policies, and betterment of water user organizations.

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