Water and Wetlands

see LATEST NEWS below


These papers are the initial output of the joint FAO/IUCN project on customary water rights. The project aims at exploring the interfaces between customary and water rights in a selected number of countries. To date countries studies have been produced on the following countries:


Further studies are being planned. Please check this website for future updates.


IUCN ELP joined with IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative to promote the concept of environmental flows at the 14th Stockholm Water Symposium. Presentations on environmental flows were made by the Head of the IUCN ELP to the workshop on 'Cascading and Effective Water Use in Catchment Systems' and at the SIWI Seminar on 'Balancing Food and Environmental Security: Finding Opportunities for Improving Livelihoods'. IUCN ELP also promoted the importance of environmental flows at the session held on 'Preparations for the 13th Meeting of the CSD'. For more information on the Symposium and Seminar click here. For more information on environmental flows and the Symposium click here.


IUCN ELP participated in the IUCN delegation to CSD 12 through the Head of the Environmental Law Programme, with input also coming from the Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, Prof. Nicholas Robinson. The IUCN ELP also contributed to IUCN side events on environmental flows for healthy river systems and on the trade dimension of water and sanitation, hosted jointly with ICTSD (see below).

For a Commentary on CSD 12 click here
and for more information on environmental flows visit the WANI 'Flow' site.

IUCN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PROGRAMME at the 3rd World Water Forum, Kyoto

IUCN ELP had a strong presence at the 3rd World Water Forum, which included attendance by John Scanlon, Head of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme, and Dr Alejandro Iza, IUCN Legal Officer.

IUCN ELP actively participated in many events and activities such as those concerning: governance (including basin management and devolution of authority), environmental flows, water pollution legislation, water rights (including trade in water), adaptation to climate change, dispute resolution and global and regional treaties.

The IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL) Water and Wetlands Specialist Group, Chaired by Megan Dyson of Australia, was involved in providing professional input into preparations for the 3rd WWF, in particular in relation to environment flows, as was Professor Robyn Stein.

For the 3rd World Water Forum go to www.worldwaterforum.org/

7th International Conference: Law, Water and the Web of Life

IUCN ELP joined with Law for a Green Planet Institute, Brazil to sponsor this major conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 2-5 June 2003 (see Latest News story 5 June 2003 below).

For more information visit Law for a Green Planet Institute visit Website at www.planetaverde.org.


The Water and Wetlands Specialist Group was established by CEL in January 2002 (it was initially known as a Forum) in recognition of the growing importance of water and wetlands law. The Group is chaired by Megan Dyson from Australia and includes a network of leading experts in water and wetlands law from across the globe. For more information about the Group click here , and for Terms of Reference / Activities Report for 2003 click here (deactivated).

For news about IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) go to www.iucn.org/themes/wani.


IUCN's Newsletter Issue 1/2002 has a specific focus on water. It includes stimulating articles on current issues and recents events and is available free by clicking here.


'International Water Governance: Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystems.
Vol. 1 International Agreements - Compilation and Analysis' Full version (1,319KB)
'Water Governance in West Africa' Full version (1,766KB)
'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows' Full version (1,374KB)
'Water as a Human Right?' - Full version - Summary Fact Sheet
Murray Darling Basin Initiative, Australia: Overview, Environmental Flows, Trade in Water
CSD 12, New York: Commentary
World Conservation, Moving water, No. 1, 2003


These brief issues papers have been prepared by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre to introduce the non-lawyer to the importance of the role of the law in integrated water resources management. The issues that have been addressed are:

Issue 1: A Global Water Convention
Issue 2: The Ramsar Convention: Water and Wetlands
Issue 3: Basin Management and Devolution of Authority
Issue 4: Conservation and Integrated Water Resources Management
Issue 5: Effective Water Pollution Legislation
Issue 6: Adapting to Climate Change
Issue 7: Environmental Flows
Issue 8: Trading in Water: Defining Property Rights
Issue 9: Human Rights and Water
Issue 10: Environmental Impact Assessment
Issue 11: Indigenous Issues
Issue 12: IUCN ELP Capability Statement




20 October 2004

The importance of integrated water resources management (IWRM) to achieving sustainable development was the subject of a global training course conducted by The World Bank Institute (WBI) in Divonne, France from 11-15 October. The course dedicated a full day to the legal, institutional and regulatory dimensions of IWRM, which included an overview of national legislation by Stefano Burchi from FAO, an analysis of negotiation techniques by Ana-maria Kleymeyer from WBI and a detailed case study of the Murray Darling Basin Initiative by John Scanlon, IUCN Environmental Law Programme. The presentations gave participants the opportunity to understand the importance of the legal, institutional and regulatory dimensions of IWRM. The training course was also supported by UNITAR, WMO/OMM, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

19 October 2004

In the United Nations Millenium Declaration, States resolved to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources by developing water management strategies at local, national and regional levels. Two years later, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), States committed to develop integrated water resources management and efficiency plans by 2005. 'Water Governance in West Africa', the latest publication in the IUCN Environmental Law Programme Series, addresses a wide range of global, regional and local issues relating to water resources governance in West Africa, contributing to meeting the challenges and targets set in the Millennium Declaration and the WSSD Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The publication follows a workshop jointly organised by the IUCN Regional Office in West Africa (BRAO) and the IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP) in Oagadougou in 2002.

To obtain a copy of the publication click here.

19 August 2004

A range of international organizations today accepted ‘environmental flows’ as the tool to ward off social conflict and environmental degradation due to the overuse of water in the river basins of the world. The endorsement was received at a special session at the 14 th World Water Week underway in Stockholm. ‘We believe the implementation of environmental flows is a necessary step to increase water security,’ said Mr. Anders Bertell, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, host of the conference. The acceptance by the international community in Stockholm of ‘environmental flows’ is a major milestone because it demonstrates that ‘environmental flows’ has become widely accepted as a standard tool in modern water management.

IUCN Media Release
Download a free copy of 'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows' here (1,374KB).
Find IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) here.

13 July 2004

Formally acknowledging water as a human right could encourage the international community and governments to enhance their efforts to satisfy basic human needs and to meet the Millennium Development Goals. But critical questions arise in relation to a right to water. What would be the benefits and content of such a right? What mechanisms would be required for its effective implementation? Should the duty be placed on governments alone, or should the responsibility also be borne by private actors? Is another 'academic debate' on this subject warranted when action is really what is necessary? Without claiming to prescribe the answers, the latest IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP) publication titled 'Water as a Human Right?' clearly and carefully sets out the competing arguments and the challenges. "In doing it has provided an excellent platform for critical thinking and informed debate" said Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General. 'Water as a Human Right?' was produced through the collaborative efforts of IUCN ELP staff, interns and volunteers, and benefited from being peer reviewed by experts from FAO and UNDP, which generously funded the publication.

To download a copy of 'Water as a Human Right?' click here.
For more information on IUCN ELP Publications click here

23 April 2004

How compatible are developing international trade and investment rules with the ability of countries to adopt strong domestic laws and policies for resource management, environmental protection and equitable access to water and sanitation? How do such rules recognise the need for adaptive management, in particular given the uncertainties surrounding global climate change? These questions and more were addressed in a side event held at CSD 12 on 22 April, New York, sponsored by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and IUCN. Leading experts addressed the experience gained to date in Mexico, a country dealing with global and regional trade agreements, and the potential ramifications of the General Agreement on Trade in Services on domestic legislation where State's commit to liberalising trade in environmental services.

Side Event agenda
Overview Document
Opening Remarks - Tracking the Linkages
Papers Presented: GATS, Water Services and Policy Options

Trade Negotiations: Their Relevance for Water, Sanitation and Sustainable Development
Strengthening Systemic Linkages
The Case in Mexico
Find link to ICTSD here.

21 April 2004

What is vital for healthy functioning river systems and critical for achieving economic prosperity and the conservation of biodiversity? The answer, offered by IUCN at the meeting of the 12th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12), is environmental flows. 'Environmental flows' means enough water is left in our rivers and is managed to ensure downstream environmental, social and economic benefits. Following a delegates debate on balancing water issues, IUCN held a highly interactive side event on Environmental Flows for Sustainable Development. Close to 60 participants discussed the importance of environmental flows for people and nature, considered experience already gained in achieving environmental flows, and explored the next steps in promoting and implementing environmental flows for sustainable development. IUCN's guide "Flow - The Essentials of Environmental Flows" that sets out the way to ensure the long-term prosperity and health of river basins throughout the world was also presented. CSD-12, held from 19-30 April in New York, focuses on water, sanitation and human settlements.

Full Programme here.
Link to ENB summary here.
'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows' Full version
Find IUCN's Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) here.

12 Febrero

Unos 60 funcionarios de entidades del estado y organismos no gubernamentales se reunieron en San José, Costa Rica para analizar los diferentes aspectos concernientes al tema de “caudales ecológicos”. Esta actividad, que contó con la presencia de invitados extranjeros, fue organizado por la Iniciativa del Agua y Naturaleza para Mesoamérica, en el marco de su proyecto sobre caudales ambientales. El Dr. Alejandro Iza, del Centro de Derecho Ambiental, se refirió a los aspectos normativos de la regulación de los caudales ambientales y a las diferentes alternativas para su regulación legal. La Conferencia fue seguida por un taller donde ser trataron en detalle los aspectos legales, hidrológicos y socieconómicos, del cual surgieron importantes recomendaciones para la acción futura.

English Version

28 November 2003

IUCN Sri Lanka has organised and hosted a meeting of officials from the Mahaweli Authority of Sri Lanka, the Kala Oya Basin Secretariat and The World Bank to discuss the concept of 'environmental flows' and to introduce the IUCN publication 'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows'. The meeting heard presentations on the various assessment options that are available to determine an 'environmental flow' and the hydrological aspects of providing a regime for such flows, from Chaminda Rajapakse from IUCN WANI (Asia) and Vladimir Smakhtin from the International Water Management Institute. The Head of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP) was invited to the meeting to present on 'environmental flows' in the context of integrated water resources management and river basin organisations. The outcomes of this highly successful meeting will be followed through by IUCN Sri Lanka over the coming months. IUCN WANI and IUCN ELP released the world's first comprehensive guide to environmental flows in August this year and have been actively engaged in promoting the concept in selected countries and river basins since that time.

For more on IUCN Sri Lanka click here, IUCN WANI click here, and IUCN ELP Water and Wetlands click here.

30 de Octubre de 2003

El IV Simposio Internacional sobre Legislación y Derecho Ambiental tuvo lugar en Madrid del 23 al 26 de Octubre. Organizado por el Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid (ICAM) en el marco de su Programa Iberoamericano en Derecho Ambiental, el simposio de este año se centró en "Gestión de Aguas: Legislación, Casos y Jurisprudencia". Se trataron diversos temas, entre ellos, tramas ecológicas en cauces hidrográficos, humedales en peligro, repercusiones de grandes represas, instrumentos fiscales, zonificación de aguas subterráneas y acceso al agua potable. Por las tardes se desarrollaron mesas de trabajo y foros para el debate. El Dr. Alejandro Iza, del Centro de Derecho Ambiental de la UICN, presentó el trabajo titulado "Aguas de Transición y Caudales Ecológicos". El V Simposio, que versará sobre "Suelos y Urbanismo", tendrá lugar en Madrid del 21 al 23 de octubre de 2004. Para mayor información sobre este evento rogamos dirigirse: Dra. Silvia Jaquenod de Zsögön, ICAM Departamento de Derecho Ambiental, Serrano Nº 11 - 4a Planta, 28001 Madrid, España (Tel: +34-91-435 78 10 Extensión 814 y 816; zsogon@iies.es).

Para acceder al texto del trabajo "Aguas de Transición y Caudales Ecológicos" haga un click aquí.
English version

10 October 2003

El Programa de Derecho Ambiental de la UICN (PDA), a través del Centro de Derecho Ambiental y varios miembros de la Comisión de Derecho Ambiental, participó en el Seminario Internacional sobre Manejo Sustentable de Humedales de América Latina, organizado por la Fundación Proteger en la ciudad de Paraná, Argentina. Este evento, que reunió a más de 600 personas, contó con la presencia de expertos nacionales, invitados extranjeros, autoridades locales, provinciales y nacionales. Los paneles trataron diversos temas, desde el manejo de cuencas, hasta la valoración económica y los corredores. El PDA tuvo una activa participación en el panel de legislación y políticas públicas, donde Alejandro Iza realizó una presentación sobre manejo de ecosistemas y caudales ecológicos. Además organizó un taller sobre cuestiones jurídicas e institucionales del cual surgieron importantes recomendaciones para el futuro.

Para mayor información sobre este evento click aquí.
English version

10 October 2003

En el marco de un proyecto de colaboración entre FARN (Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) y el Centro de Derecho Ambiental de la UICN se realizó en Buenos Aires el último de una serie de talleres sobre presupuestos mínimos de legislación ambiental. Concurrieron a este taller representantes de diversos sectores del gobierno, ONGs, el sector privado y académico para debatir sobre la Ley 25.688 de Gestión Ambiental de Aguas. La discusión se centró en temas críticos de aplicación de esta norma, tales como la distribución de competencias entre la Nación y las Provincias y la creación de comités de cuenca. Sin embargo, incluyó además otros temas vinculados con la preservación y el uso racional de las aguas como son la protección de los acuíferos, la regulación de caudales y la dimensión transfronteriza de la gestión del recurso.

Para ver las conclusiones de los talleres de presupuestos mínimos click aquí.
English version

15 September 2003

The IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL) has used the occasion of the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress being held in Durban, South Africa, to announce the first CEL regional 'centre of excellence' in Africa. The Mandela Institute, School of Law, University of Witwatersrand, is being specifically recognised by CEL as a 'centre of excellence' in water law, a first for CEL. Commencing in 2004 the centre will be hosting certificate and Masters level courses in water law, designed for African lawyers and non lawyers. In announcing the 'centre of excellence' Professor Robinson praised the University for undertaking this initiative, which now joins a network of CEL recognised centres from across the globe. Professor Robyn Stein expressed great thanks to IUCN for all of its support and described the centre as representing a major capacity building initiative for Southern Africa. The centre will be officially launched at the University in November this year. The establishment of the centre has obtained strong support and endorsement from the South African Minister of Water Resources and Forestry, Ronnie Kasrils MP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation - Legal Office.

To find out more about CEL 'centres of excellence' click here (deactivated).

2 September 2003

IUCN's Environmental Law Programme and FAO's Legal Office have joined forces to present a series of lectures on 'Law, Ethics and Politics' at the 'Integrated Water Resources Management' (IWRM) course being conducted this week by the Swiss Centre of Hydrogeology, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. The course, which has attracted high level participants from across the globe, addresses applied IWRM from environmental, economic and social perspectives. It also analyzes how implementing IWRM can help attain the Millennium Development Goals relating to water and sanitation. FAO introduced participants to key principles of International and national water law. IUCN then presented an overview of how 'environmental flows' are being tackled in the Murray Darling Basin, Australia and a case study on river basin organizations. Participants were also given a copy of IUCN's groundbreaking publication 'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows'.

Find University of Neuchatel here. Programme.
Murray Darling Basin Initiative, Australia: Overview, Environmental Flows, Trade in Water.
Download a free copy of 'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows' from story below.

12 August 2003

A landmark IUCN publication on establishing and maintaining environmental flows for healthy river systems has been released in Adelaide by the Hon. John Hill MP, South Australian Minister for Land, Water and Biodiversity Conservation. This world's first guide, which addresses the legal, policy, financial, political, scientific, communications and capacity building aspects of establishing and maintaining environmental flows, is a joint effort of the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative and IUCN Environmental Law Programme, through the IUCN CEL Water and Wetlands Specialist Group and IUCN ELC, Bonn. IUCN ELP Editors, Megan Dyson and John Scanlon, described establishing and maintaining environmental flows as "the most significant challenge confronting water resource managers over the next decade." The guide was released on the same day in Stockholm by Co-editor Dr Ger Bergkamp, IUCN WANI. The year 2003 is the UN International Year of Freshwater.

IUCN Media Release
Download a free copy of 'Flow: the essentials of environmental flows' here (1,374KB).
Find IUCN WANI here.

8 August 2003

Officials from Central and Provincial Government, along with representatives from other interested institutions, have gathered in Hue, Vietnam for a full day Workshop to review options for establishing a river basin organisation (RBO) for the Huong River Basin. The Workshop was Chaired by Dr Nguyen Ngoc Thien, Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Committee for the Thua Thien Hue Province and Mr Nguyen Minh Thong, IUCN Vietnam Country Representative. The discussion was facilitated by the presentation of options for establishing an RBO at the initial Workshop (March 2003) by the Head of IUCN ELP, who joined the meeting as a commentator. The Workshop also heard a presentation by Chaminda Rajapakse, IUCN ARO on 'environmental flows' and the possible application of the concept to the Huong River Basin. Participants requested copies of the forthcoming IUCN publication, 'Flow. The essentials of environmental flows', a joint initiative of IUCN WANI and ELP, and for its translation into Vietnamese.

26 June 2003

Autoridades de la Fundación Proteger se reunieron con el Dr. Alejandro Iza del Centro de Derecho Ambiental para discutir los avances en la creación de un corredor de humedales en los ríos Paraguay y Paraná. Este corredor, el más grande del mundo en su tipo, es una iniciativa de Proteger que cuenta con el apoyo de WWF, Wetlands International y la Convención Ramsar. Comprende, hasta el momento, las provincias argentinas de Entre Ríos, Santa Fé, Corrientes, Formosa, Chaco y Misiones. El próximo mes de septiembre tendrá lugar el Seminario Internacional sobre el Manejo de Humedales en América Latina, donde se tratarán una amplia gama de temas vinculados con el manejo de humedales en la región y al cual asistirá el Programa de Derecho Ambiental.

Para mayor información sobre este evento consultar aquí.

25 June 2003

El Programa de Derecho Ambiental estuvo presente, junto a UICN-ORMA y UICN-SUR en el Tercer Congreso Latinoamericano de Manejo de Cuencas Hidrográficas, que se celebró en Arequipa entre el 8 y el 13 de junio de 2003. El Congreso trató, entre otros, temas de legislación, instrumentos financieros, el rol de las comunidades indígenas, pago por servicios ambientales, manejo integrado, participación comunitaria, estrategias y políticas nacionales y cuencas compartidas. Dentro del simposio sobre cuencas transfronterizas, elCentro de Derecho Ambiental a través del Dr. Alejandro Iza realizó una presentación sobre los Aspectos Jurídicos de los Caudales Ecológicos en Cuencas Compartidas. Esta presentación, a la cual asistieron alrededor de 100 personas, generó gran interés e inquietud en los participantes con el fin de recibir orientaciones sobre los marcos jurídicos adecuados para una gestión integral de cuencas compartidas entre dos o más estados y la inclusión de los caudales ecológicos dentro de ellas.

Para acceder al texto de la presentación haga un click aquí.


5 June 2003

IUCN-ELC has presented a land mark paper on 'Water as a Human Right?' at the Law for a Green Planet Institute 'Law, Water and the Web of Life' 7th International Conference on Environmental Law being held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The same paper was also pre released to judges from Western/Central/Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, together with judges and experts from across the globe, at judges symposia held in Rome and Lviv last month. The IUCN-ELC paper comprises a comprehensive review of the current situation at global, regional and national levels and poses the question of whether a human right to water may help to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation. The paper was prepared by IUCN-ELC, with input from CEL members, to help facilitate further discussion and consideration on this issue during 2003, being the UN International Year of Freshwater.

'Water as a Human Right?' - Full Paper - Summary Fact Sheet

31 March 2003

IUCN has wasted no time in moving from the lofty debates on water policy at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto to putting policy into practice in Hue, Vietnam. On 27 March a Workshop was held on River Basin Organizations (RBOs) in Hue as a part of the IUCN VN WANI Huong Basin Integrated Management Project. The Workshop was held to discuss options for the establishment of an RBO for the Huong River Basin. The Workshop was chaired by Chairman Me, the Chairman of the Peoples Committee for the Thua Thien Hue Province, together with Mr Nguyen Minh Thong, IUCN Vietnam Country Representative. Following a week of meetings with local officials and experts, a detailed presentation on RBOs was made by John Scanlon, Head IUCN Environmental Law Programme, to facilitate consideration of possible options for the Huong River Basin.

21 March 2003

IUCN has participated in the panel for the 'Wrap up Session' on two days of discussions on the 'Water and Governance' Theme convened by the Global Water Partnership. The Wrap up Session confirmed the vital importance of good water governance to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to the 'on ground' implementation of integrated water resources management. The importance of sound and effective legal frameworks that protect the public interest and the need to build domestic capacity for the implementation of such frameworks was stressed by IUCN. John Scanlon, Head IUCN ELP said "the role of the law in clearly addressing equity, sustainability, transparency, participation and accountability issues becomes even more important as we witness a changing role of government in service delivery and resource management and the greater use of market based instruments." IUCN stressed the same message during a presentation delivered at the INBO - International Network of Basin Organizations session held on "Progress in Water Management at the Level of River Basins over the World".

Find copy of IUCN INBO paper here.
Find the Gobal Water Partnership (GWP) here.
Find copy of IUCN GWP Wrap up session speaking notes here.

18 March 2003

IUCN has convened an international panel at the 3rd World Water Forum to discuss the importance of environmental flows to healthy river systems, the relationship of environmental flows to integrated water resources management, and to review the draft IUCN Guide on making provision for environmental flows: 'Environmental Flows - The Essentials'. Chaired by Torkil Jonch Clausen (GWP), and including speakers and panelists from Australia (CCISR), Cambodia (MRC), Japan (Tokyo University), the Netherlands (WWF) and the USA (TNC), the session gave strong endorsement to the development of the Guide (to be released on 5 June 2003) and noted the vital role environmental flows play in attracting investment, achieving long term economic prosperity and the conservation of biological diversity. "Environmental flows work for people as much as for plants and animals" said John Scanlon, Head IUCN ELP.

Find copy of the summary of 'Environmental Flows - The Essentials' here

17 March 2003

IUCN has released the 'IUCN Water Law Series' to coincide with the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto. These brief issues papers have been prepared by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre to introduce the non-lawyer to the importance of the role of the law in integrated water resource management. The issues that have been addressed include Basin Management, Devolution of Authority, Adapting to Climate Change, Trading in Water, Defining Property Rights, Human Rights and Water and Effective Water Pollution Legislation. The series of papers reflect the strong focus of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme on water. The Programme is working closely with the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative and other partners on environmental flows, institutional and legislative frameworks, and applied governance. The Commission on Environmental Law established the Water and Wetlands Specialists Group in January 2002.

To obtain a copy of the IUCN Water Law Series click here.

3 December 2002

The 1st International Workshop on Continental Fisheries and Wetlands Legislation took place at the House of Representatives of the Santa Fé Province (Argentina). This workshop, organised by Fundación Proteger (an IUCN member) and hosted by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre and the Ramsar Convention, aimed at discussing and analysing the most relevant legal issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the Middle Paraná River resources. All the stakeholders were represented in this event: fishermen, industry, lawyers, scientists, local and national politicians. A series of recommendations were drafted after long debates. These recommendations are related to improving the Plata Basin fluvial fishing and wetlands legislation and policies, strengthening certain mechanisms, such as the Draft Provincial Agreement on Continental Fisheries, and promoting local capacities to manage the river resources. The recommendations will be sent to the local and national governments and carefully followed up.

26 November 2002

IUCN ELC has been quietly working 'in the corridors' of the Ramsar CoP 8, being held in Valencia, Spain, to assist the parties achieve consensus on contentious issues, including proposed guidelines to do with alien invasive species and agriculture. The contentious procedural issues surrounding the adoption of Decision VI 23 (dealing with alien invasive species guidelines) at the Convention on Biodiversity CoP 6 held in The Hague last April carried over to this CoP, with both the Australian and European Union delegations issuing respective position papers on reference being made to the Decision. IUCN, through its Environmental Law Programme, has been working with all parties to try find a way forward and late last week IUCN released an intervention with a possible compromise. On 23 November, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay and the United States issued a joint statement stating that "…in the spirit of conciliation and consensus, the above listed countries welcome the attached compromise proposed by IUCN". IUCN also led a technical presentation on alien invasive species to the Plenary.

Find IUCN ELP DR 18 Intervention here.
Find IUCN ELC article on CDB CoP 6 here.

4 October 2002

More than 40 participants, water experts from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal met in Ouagadougou from 25-27 September to share thoughts and experiences about water governance in West Africa. The workshop was organised by the IUCN Regional Office for West Africa (BRAO) and the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, Bonn. The workshop was structured around the five thematic areas of: Water and wetlands management in selected international environmental conventions; Legal aspects on tranboundary watercourses; Traditional and modern institutions for water management at the local level; Integrated Water Resources Management and equity in national water laws; and River basin organisations in West Africa. It responded to a need to better define and put in place appropriate institutional frameworks for the management of water in the region. The outcomes of the workshop will contribute to a better understanding and raise of awareness about the critical importance of improving water governance in the region.

25 September 2002

Murray-Darling Basin (Australia) expert, Paul Harvey, has visited the IUCN Environmental Law Centre and personally presented the ELC with a copy of The Living Murray Discussion Paper on restoring the health of the River Murray released by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in July 2002, and the draft Bill of the River Murray Act (South Australia). Mr Harvey also discussed the severe drought conditions that are currently affecting the Basin, which has brought about problems at the mouth of the river. This has prompted the Commission to commit two million dollars for dredging to keep the mouth of the River Murray open to allow tidal flows into the Coorong estuary, a Ramsar listed wetland. Mr Harvey is Chair of the Murray Mouth Committee, Deputy Director, Murray Darling Division, with the Department for Land, Water and Biodiversity Conservation, and State Contact Officer for the Murray Darling Basin Commission.

1 September 2002

The IUCN ELP has facilitated a lively discussion on environment flows as a part of the IUCN Water Day held at the IUCN Environment Centre. Keynote speaker, Professor Robyn Stein, IUCN CEL (South Africa) set the scene by referring to the fundamental human right to access sufficient water that has been enshrined in the South African Constitution and National Water Act, the notion of the 'reserve' that has been included in the National Water Act and the many 'silent services' provided by a healthy river system. Panelists included representatives from the Mekong River Commission, FAO, National Wildlife Federation (USA) and the Stockholm Environment Institute. The session fully supported the importance of providing for environment flows. Panelists and participants noted that such flows need to be addressed in a basin and catchment context, taking into account surface and ground water resources, wetlands and the interface between freshwater and seawater. The session also stressed the importance of determining appropriate environment flows through working with people, taking into account the full range of social, cultural, environmental and economic perspectives.

31 August 2002

The IUCN ELP network has actively promoted the need to implement, enforce and further develop legislation for clean air and water to the world's parliamentarians. IUCN CEL members Professor Antonio Benjamin (Brazil), Professor Koh Kheng Lian (Singapore), Dr Grethel Aguilar (Costa Rica), Professor Michael Kidd (South Africa), and John Scanlon, Head ELP each addressed the WSSD Parliamentarians for Global Action 'Parliamentary Workshop on Clean Air and Water' on ways to effectively use the law to tackle the challenge of protecting air and water quality. The IUCN ELP also participated in the high level panel on 'Making Water Governance Effective' at the WSSD Water Dome, organized by the Global Water Partnership.

Find the IUCN ELP paper on "Effective Water Pollution Legislation" here.

16 August 2002

IUCN ELP's long interest in integrated water resource management has been greatly enhanced over the past years. This has included the establishment of the Commission on Environmental Law (CEL) Water and Wetlands Forum, a network of some of the world's leading water experts chaired by Megan Dyson (Australia), the active engagement of the ELP with the IUCN Water and Wetlands Initiative (WANI), and the first ELP Newsletter for 2002 having a 'Focus on Water' (to download your free copy click here). The CEL pre WSSD Conference in Pietermaritzburg included several sessions addressing water and wetlands issues (see programme) and IUCN ELP actively participated in many water related side events at the WSSD in Johannesburg, including the Global Water Partnership Panel on Water Governance, the Parliamentarians for Global Action Parliamentary Workshop on Clean Air and Clean Water, and the IUCN Water Day. John Scanlon, former Murray Darling Basin Commissioner and IUCN ELP Head, was an invited speaker at the Stockholm International Water Institute Seminar (SIWI) in Stockholm on 16 August 2002. His paper addressed 'The Story of Restoring Environment Flows in the Murray Darling Basin in Australia.'

Find the IUCN ELP paper "Restoring Environmental Flows in the Murray Darling Basin" here.

IUCN ELP Facilitating the Sharing of Knowledge on River Basin Management
23 May 2002

J Harm Oterdoom, Secretary General, International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine, and Chief Scientist, Dr Marc Braun, met with an IUCN ELC delegation to explain and discuss the functioning of the Commission. The ELC delegation included CDG fellows, Sunny Pichyakorn and Ketsana Phommachanh (employed by the Governments of Thailand and Lao PDR respectively), both of whom had undertaken a comparative analysis of the Mekong River Commission and selected river basin commissions. The presentation by the Commission Secretariat followed presentations made to all ELC fellows and interns by Stephen Hunter and John Scanlon, current and former (Australian) Murray Darling Basin Commissioners, on the Murray Darling Basin Initiative. Scanlon described this as an important part of the Environmental Law Programme's efforts to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between river basin management authorities.

Ramsar Steering Committee Chair Visits IUCN ELC
16 May 2002

Stephen Hunter, Chair of the Ramsar Steering Committee, Deputy Director of Environment Australia and Murray Darling Basin Commissioner, visited the offices of the Environmental Law Centre. Stephen's visit included an address to ELC staff, research fellows and interns on the Ramsar Convention, with a particular focus on the role of the Steering Committee in its implementation, and on Australia's efforts to implement the Convention at the national level, including through the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999, the National Heritage Trust and the Murray Darling Basin Initiative. All at the ELC were most grateful to Stephen for his highly interesting presentation and for taking the time to share his vast experience with water and wetlands issues.


Principal author: John Scanlon. Last updated: 20 October 2004



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