Unformatted text preview: on the international agenda. In January,
1992, the International Conference on Water and the
Environment (ICWE) was held in Dublin, Ireland to serve as
the preparatory event, with respect to water issues, to the Rio
United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) Conference.
The Dublin Conference was expected to formulate
sustainable water policies and an action program to be
considered by UNCED. The conference reports set out the
recommendations for action at the local, national, and
international levels, based on the following four guiding
principles (ICWE, 1992): A critical review of the evolution of IWRM in the
international agenda, from the UN Conference on Water held
in Mar del Plata in 1977 to the Third World Water Forum of
Kyoto in 2003, follows. United Nations Conference on Water (Mar del
In 1977, the UN Conference on Water was held in
Mar del Plata, Argentina. Its goals were to assess the status
of water resources; to ensure that an adequate supply of
quality water was available to meet the planet’s socioeconomic needs; to increase water use efficiency; and to
promote preparedness, nationally and internationally, so as to
avoid a water crisis of global dimensions before the end of
The conference approved the Mar del Plata Action
Plan, which was the first internationally coordinated
approach to IWRM. The plan had two parts: a set of
recommendations that covered all the essential components
of water management, and twelve resolutions on a wide
range of specific subject areas. It discussed assessment of
water use and efficiency; natural hazards, environment,
health and pollution control; policy, planning and
management; public information, education, training and
research; and regional and international cooperation (Biswas,
The Mar del Plata conference was a success, in
part due to the active participation of the developing world
and the discussions on various aspects of water management,
specifically the country and region specific analyses. The
conference considered water management on a holistic and
comprehensive basis, an approach recognized as one of the
key IWRM issues in the 1990s. To provide potable water and
sanitation facilities to all, and to accelerate political will and
investment in the water sector, the conference recommended
the period 1980 to 1990 as the International Water Supply
and Sanitation Decade.
The Mar del Plata conference was undoubtedly a
major milestone in the history of water resources
development for the 20th century. Viewed from any
direction, the conference has become an important yardstick
in water resources management, particularly for IWRM.
Regrettably, transboundary water resources management was
not discussed comprehensively, and an implementation
scheme for the Action Plan was not developed during the
discussion (Biswas, 2004).
While the 1980s were key as far as implementing
the Mar del Plata principles, gradually, water faded from
international agendas, so much so that the Brundtland
Commission Report (WCED, 1987), which laid the
cornerstones to the concept of sustainable development in
international policy, hardly addressed the issue of water. •
• Principle one recognized fresh water as a finite,
vulnerable, and essential resource, and suggested that
water should be managed in an integrated manner.
Principle two suggested a participatory approach,
involving users, planners, and policymakers, at all
levels of water development and management.
Principle three recognized women’s central role in the
provision, management, and safeguarding of water.
Principle four suggested that water should be
considered as an economic good. The fourth principle became highly debated and
was opposed by water professionals from the developing
world. They argued that no water development initiatives
could be sustainable if water was considered an economic
good without considering the issues of equity and poverty.
The main successes of the Dublin conference were that
it focused on the necessity of integrated water management
and on active participations of all stakeholders, from the
highest levels of government to the smallest communities,
and highlighted the...
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This note was uploaded on 01/08/2014 for the course SUST 520 taught by Professor Asunkis during the Fall '13 term at Black Hills State University.
- Fall '13