- Ramsar Conventionsearch for term
The Convention on Wetlands, adopted in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 and since known as the Ramsar Convention, came into force in 1975. It was the first of the modern global intergovernmental treaties designed to protect the environment and preserve natural resources. The Convention’s mission, which was re-stated in 1996, is the conservation and the wise use of wetlands by national and international co-operation as a means of achieving sustainable development throughout the world. As of January 1998, 106 states had become Contracting Parties. Membership in the Ramsar Convention entails an endorsement of the principles that the Convention represents, facilitating the development of national policies and actions, including legislation, to make best possible use of their wetland resources. Contracting Parties are committed to designating at least one site meeting Ramsar criteria for inclusion on the list of wetlands of international importance; including wetland conservation within national land-use planning; establishing nature reserves; and consulting with other parties about the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to transboundary wetlands. The administration of the Convention is entrusted to a secretariat at the IUCN – the World Conservation Union in Switzerland.
- Re-use and recycling of watersearch for term
Freshwater scarcity is now a major issue in many areas of the world. Additional sources of water are therefore required – especially for agriculture, which is a major water user. The re-use or recycling of drainage water, wastewater, brackish water or polluted groundwater can be economically and environmentally beneficial and practicable in many settings. However, these water sources require careful management. The two main re-use techniques are: blending (normally for drainage water) which involves the mixing of marginal quality water with good quality water to reduce the concentration of pollutants; and treatment which involves either high-cost treatment works or low-cost robust systems such as constructed wetlands, soil aquifer systems or stabilisation ponds to remove pathogens and undesirable trace elements. Stabilisation ponds can achieve water of good enough quality to use for unrestricted irrigation based on WHO (1973) Guidelines. The re-use of drainage water for irrigation is already extensively practised in Egypt, Pakistan and USA. The re-use or recycling of water for domestic purposes will increase as low-cost techniques for treating water become more widespread.
Further information: The safe use of marginal quality water in agriculture: a guide for the water resource planner, HR Wallingford, 1997. Water quality for agriculture, FAO, 1989.
- Regulatory systemssearch for term
Regulatory systems are needed to monitor and enforce established laws, agreements, rules and standards (see also Water laws and legislation). These cover such matters as the administration of water rights and allocations; standards of service; water quality; environmental protection; and prices and tariffs charged by regulated utilities. In many countries the regulatory functions are inadequately performed and spread inconsistently between agencies; this is an increasingly serious deficiency where service delivery or operational functions are being decentralised or devolved to the private sector. Too often, regulatory bodies are established, but the resources, human and financial, are not made available to permit effectiveness. They need to be able to: develop data collection strategies; define regulatory policy and enforcement measures; define methodologies for monitoring; take effective action on breaches of standards; and act as arbitrator in conflicts of interest. Legislation is needed to ensure that regulations are coordinated and enforced.
Further information: Water Resources Management: A World Bank Policy Paper, World Bank, 1993.
- River Basin Organisations (RBOs)search for term
The river basin as a planning and management unit for water resources has been seen as a means of developing an integrated approach. Its closed geographic boundary system permits various sectors and users in a basin to work together: agriculture, flood control, industry, settlements, communities, etc. Since these water uses fall under the aegis of different administrative departments, a survey is needed to identify those present in the basin, their various roles and capacities, and how they will inter-relate, before an RBO can be established. RBOs have proved their worth in the following areas: watershed management including erosion control; data collection and storage for surface water flows; land-use planning and flood risk prevention; the facilitation of demand management decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of the uses of water and their relative values within the basin; coordination between the various sectoral authorities present in the basin and with stakeholders. Shortcomings include the fact that hydraulic boundaries do not match aquifer boundaries and water table over-exploitation and pollution of groundwater can easily be neglected.Sinónimos: RBO