Sustainable water management today is a pillar of social and economic development. Success requires the restructuring of national, legal and institutional frameworks to ensure they are appropriate for a new paradigm in water resources management. National water sector reforms are subject to processes in reaching agreement that require the active participation of water stakeholders, who increasingly demand accountability from politicians and decision makers in the management of water resources.

Effective legal frameworks are fundamental to achieving Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), with institutions capable of ensuring compliance with the law. Building water governance capacity should also be a means of improving social equity. Any reform of the law aiming to promote responsible ecosystem management is shaped by these requirements.

It is therefore important to highlight and learn from the efforts that States have made to develop their legal frameworks and to adapt them to environmental requirements. Delivering the institutional structures necessary to implement IWRM is an ongoing endeavour. Through modern and flexible legislation and efficient legal and institutional regimes, governments can greatly strengthen their water governance capacity, and therefore sustainable water management. The principles of public participation, social equity, the right to water, safeguarding human health, and sustainable ecosystems are keys to the construction of new water law.

A legal IWRM framework has to be comprehensive enough to reach and rule water use in other sectors that need water for their operations like sanitation, irrigation or energy, in order to guarantee good water practice making sustainability a common practice.

This book recommends a process of reform beginning with a ‘vision for the future’ that results in increased water security. It outlines the necessary steps towards reform of water governance and the enabling environment required for its implementation. Water is fundamental for life and therefore its wise use and regulation, which affects us all, must be seen as a social duty.

States must be encouraged to take all the necessary measures to guarantee access to water for all, whilst also providing for future generations and thus enabling development with a secure water future.

This book suggests a series of steps for reforming water governance, with examples of success stories from around the world. Through the clear guidance outlined in this book, it is hoped that all water professionals, decision makers and users will gain a deeper understanding of the legal and institutional solutions needed in the quest for sustainable and equitable water resources management.

Dipl.-Ing. Jorge Jurado

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