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Climate Change, Sustainable Development And Good Water Governance

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Francesco Sindico, Stephanie Switzer, Mallory Orme, Zoię Cuthbert, Julie Gibson, Friederike During, Nicola Crook, Andrew Walters, Renice
University of Strathclyde / Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG)1, University of Strathclyde Law School / Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance2, University of Strathclyde Law School 3

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 7: Global challenges for water governance,
AbstractIntroduction 2015 is set to be a crucial year both for climate change and sustainable development, with topical international negotiations in both fields scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The goal of this presentation is to assess whether the outcome of such negotiations can lead to increased good water governance. Water resources are central both for climate change and sustainable development. On the one hand, the increase in climate change, further documented by the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013), is putting greater stress on global water resources. Water quantity and water quality worldwide are being negatively affected by climate change. At the same time, good water governance is crucial for climate change adaptation (OECD, 2013). On the other hand, unchecked economic development can also lead to excessive stress on water resources. Unregulated exploitation of shale gas or unsustainable practices from the extractive industry are just some examples where water resources are being threatened by current economic development patterns. Against this background, the international community is currently embarked in parallel ambitious negotiations aimed at creating a new international climate change legal regime and a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The climate change negotiations were kick-started back in 2011 at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Durban, when the ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform) was launched. Its remit is to "develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties,..." (UNFCCC, 2011). The process leading to the SDGs was launched as a result of the outcome document of the Rio+20 UN Conference in 2012 (UN, 2012). There, countries agreed to launch a negotiation aimed at identifying SDGs that would eventually replace the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, proposed SDG 6 reads "Ensure availability and sustainable use of water and sanitation for all" by 2030. Methods/Materials The research put forth in this presentation is based on the "Climate and Sustainability Project (CASP)" at the University of Strathclyde Law School. CASP brings together LLM (Master) students from two different cohorts (LLM in International Law and Sustainable Development and LLM in Climate Change Law and Policy) working under the supervision of members of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG). CASP members (the authors of this presentation) will review in depth the intergovernmental negotiations on climate change and sustainable development, including Parties' submissions and position papers from international organisations. The research will also be based on an in depth literature review of the links between water, climate change and sustainable development and of good water governance. Throughout the year CASP members will be attending periodical meetings where they will fine tune their research together with SCELG members and a wide range of stakeholders and policymakers engaged in climate change and sustainable development. Results and Discussion The presentation will be divided in three parts. The first part will offer the relationship between water and climate change, and water and sustainable development. The above mentioned negative effects of global warming upon water resources will be defined as well as the challenges that unsustainable development present for global water resources. This part will also exhibit the ongoing negotiations on climate change and sustainable development and highlight whether water has acquired policy space, and if so, where. The second part of the presentation will discuss good water governance (Sindico, 2014). Governance has been defined (in relation to groundwater) as "... the process by which groundwater is managed through the application of responsibility, participation, information availability, transparency, custom, and rule of law. It is the art of coordinating administrative actions and decision making between and among different jurisdictional levels -- one of which may be global" (Varady, 2013). By using this and other definitions of governance the presentation will put forward a set of legal criteria that will be used to define "good" water governance. Tentatively these can be captured under two rubrics: substantial and procedural. The first set of criteria will discuss substantive rules and principles of law capable of promoting better water management such as equitable and reasonable utilisation, human right to access to water and sanitation, precautionary principle, etc... The second set of criteria will discuss procedural rules such as the obligation to notify, to undertake an environmental impact assessment, public participation, etc... In the third and final part of the presentation, the good water governance "legal" matrix will be applied to the ongoing climate change and SDGs negotiations. Will the climate change negotiations be able to deliver an outcome capable of promoting the substantive and procedural rules and principles contained in good water governance? This will be particularly important in the context of national adaptation plans to climate change in which water management becomes a highly relevant matter. Will the finalised SDGs, not just the water-specific one (if retained), and respective targets and indicators, facilitate good water governance? Conclusion This presentation will exhibit the results of CASP, a student led project at the University of Strathclyde Law School. It aims to discuss water resources and water governance in the context of the relationship between climate change and sustainable development, within the ongoing international negotiations in these two fields scheduled to both end in 2015. The final goal of the presentation is to suggest ways in which the Paris climate change agreement and the final outcome of the SDGs can move the world towards increased good water governance. 1. IPCC (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Summary for Policymakers 2. OECD (2013), Water and Climate Change Adaptation Policies to Navigate Uncharted Waters 3. UNFCCC (2011), Decision 1/CP.17, Establishment of an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action 4. UN (2012), A/RES/66/288, The Future We Want 5. Sindico F. (2014), "Water Governance in the Aftermath of Rio+20", International Community Law Review, Vol. 15, No 4, pp. 236-251
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