Spanish conference seeks best practices to manage water in federal countries

Participating at the international conference on water management in Zaragoza, Spain, are (from right), Forum President George Anderson; Eduardo Mestre, Director of the Water Tribune at Expo Zaragoza 2008; Francisco Pina Cuenca, President of the Regional Parliament of Aragon; and Antonio Embid Irujo, Professor of Administrative Law, University of Zaragoza.

To cope with water shortages, climate change and resultant drought or flooding, federal countries face special challenges because in most federations different orders of government are responsible for different aspects of a country’s overall stewardship of this vital resource.

To address these issues, the Forum of Federations recently co-organized an event in Zaragoza, Spain, titled International Conference on Water Management in federal and Federal-Type Countries.

Management of water in federal or politically decentralized countries must be co-ordinated between that country’s central government and its sub-national units their provinces, states cantons or Länder especially to ensure the continued health of their river basins.

The focus of the conference was the intergovernmental dimension of water management. The participants learned about how water is managed in different politically decentralized countries. Reports were presented by experts and academics from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. The wide variety of case studies offered detailed analysis of both co-ordination and conflict between countries’ internal orders of government over water, including the forces driving conflicts and resolution among different jurisdictions.

In addition, the notion of so-called "community water rights” was cited as an example of a water management technique that has had near universal success.

The discussions showed that in all federal countries and federal-type systems, effective development and implementation of water policies requires co-ordination among all levels of government, administrative commissions, and independent agencies.

The event was held from July 7-9, 2008. It was part of EXPO Zaragoza 2008, under the broader theme of Water for Sustainable Development. The Spanish exposition, which is running from June 14 Sept. 14, is expected to attract about 6 million visitors.

The participants included: Francisco Pina Cuenca, President of the Regional Parliament of Aragon; George Anderson, President of the Forum of Federations; Eduardo Mestre, Director of the Water Tribune at Expo Zaragoza 2008; and Prof. Antonio Embid, University of Saragossa and Scientific Director of the Conference.

Speakers at the event also included Dr. David Getches, University of Colorado Law School at Boulder (USA); Dr. Owen Saunders, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, University of Calgary (Canada); Dr. Jennifer Mc Kay, University of South Australia; Mr. Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Former Secretary of Water Resources, Government of India; Dr. Benedito Braga, Director of the Brazilian National Water Agency; Mr. Emiliano Rodríguez Briceño, Director General, Drinking Water and Sewer Systems of Leon; Dr. Miguel Mathus Escorihuela, Universities of Mendoza and Cuyo; Mr. Cristian Racconto, Vice Governor and President of the Senate of Mendoza (Argentina); Ms. Nicola Lugaresi, University of Trento (Italy); Mr. Rüdiger Breuer, Former Professor of Public Law, University of Bonn (Germany); Dr. Rakesh Hooja. Director of the HCM Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administration, Jaipur (India); Dr. Joe Goldface-Irokalibe, Professor of National and International Water Law, Law Faculty at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria; Mr. Eiman Karar, Director of the Water Research Commission, South Africa; Mr. Imeru Tamrat, Managing Director of the Multi-Talent Consultancy PLC, Addis Ababa University; and Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Nigeria, Member of the Board of Directors, of the Forum of Federations; Mr. José Luis Alonso, President of the Hydrographic Confederation of the Ebro (Zaragoza); Dr. Carmen Tirado, Professor, University of Zaragoza; Dr. Alberto Garrido, Associate Professor, Technical University of Madrid; Dr. Mircea Dutu, Rector of the Ecology University of Bucharest, Romania; Mr. Dominique Alhéritère, Chairman of the International Association for Water Law (AIDA); Mr. Miguel Solanes, Senior Regional Advisor on Water Law and Related Public Utilities, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, (CEPAL); Mr. Stefano Burchi, Senior Water Law Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Mr. Allan Andrew, UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science; Dr. Carlos Diaz Delgado, Researcher and Head of the Inter-American Water Resources Centre (CIRA); Mr. Patricio Carpio, Advisor to the President of the Constituent Assembly of Ecuador and Professor at the University of Cuenca; Dr. Sergio Salinas. Professor of International Law, University of Zaragoza (Spain); Dr. Griselda Capaldo, Researcher at the Juridiques and Social Research Institute “Ambrosio L Gioja”, University of Buenos Aires; Dr. Mohamed Ait Kadi, President of the General Council of Agricultural Development of Morocco, Former Governor of the World Water Council (Morocco).

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