IUCN Environmental Law Centre (ELC) took part in the most recent expert conference on transboundary aquifers in Paris, France
What are the main legal issues concerning sustainable use of transboundary aquifers? How can law help support benefit sharing of global groundwater resources? These and other questions were intensively discussed during 3 days at the ISARM 2010 International Conference on “Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and new directions”, held in Paris from 6 to 8 December 2010 and hosted by UNESCO.
At this key conference, Ms. Emma Mitrotta, representing the ELC, presented a paper entitled: “Strengthening Water Governance Capacity for Transboundary Aquifers”, which she co wrote with legal officer Juan Carlos Sánchez and ELC Director Dr. Alejandro Iza.
The paper focuses on three key issues: the need of an international binding regime for governing shared groundwaters and the need of taking stock of the experiences learned from surface water; the importance of building a step by step governance structure which may serve from international funded projects as entry points, and the necessity of sharing benefits derived from transboundary aquifers.
In a panel composed of other experts, including representatives from the Surrey Centre on Transboundary Aquifers Governance, University College Cork and Oregon State University, the ELC’s focus on water governance capacity was very well received. In particular, Mr. González (Consul, Embassy of Argentina to the UN, Vienna) found the presentation “refreshing” as it was focusing on the importance of actions and on the opportunity to take the advantage of existing tools (normative and institutional) to create a proper and more permanent managing structure. He highlighted the importance of adopting a bottom-up approach and engaging with local population in the development of specific projects. Mr. Max Campos, (Organization of American States) Chair of the session, also referred to the benefits of the presented approach.
However, groundwater reserves status and thus governance is at an early stage. There is still much work to do not only in terms of an accurate assessment of the extension of such resources, but also in designing proper strategies and plans for interventions: one of the Centre´s water priorities for the upcoming year.
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