Derecho ambiental

Recursos hídricos

Only 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater; about two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps and we have long over-stretched this precious resource.

The world faces considerable challenges in equitably managing the freshwater available to us for a growing population as we try and manage the impacts of climate change.

From the a legal perspective this requires normative instruments that promote sustainable freshwater policies, which still needs to be implemented or even developed in many legal systems around the globe.

The IUCN Environmental Law Programme, through the Environmental Law Centre and the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) Specialist Group on Water and Wetlands, is responding to this need by providing technical advice in the form of legal analyses and legislative drafting to IUCN members, developing country governments and international water institutions. Furthermore, the ELP contributes to major IUCN initiatives such as the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), whose main goal is the mainstreaming of an ecosystem approach into catchment policies, planning and management.


Third SMM stakeholders’ workshop, September 25 - 26, 2018, Kisumu, Kenya
IUCN, UNECE and IGAD Secretariat with funding from OES US State Department and SDC supported the Third SMM stakeholders’ workshop held from September 25-26, 2018 in Kisumu, Kenya.


The IUCN Environmental Law Centre has a track record of successful initiatives in fresh and coastal water governance around the world. BRIDGE Building River Dialogue and Governance, is one of these initiatives, through which the ELC has been able to strengthen the capacities of countries sharing transboundary waters to implement effective water management arrangements aimed at enhancing cooperation and achieving sustainable development.

The ELC has also brought together a variety of stakeholders involved in the management of fresh and coastal waters, including river basin commissions, Ministries, civil society organizations and academia to ensure, under a common vision, the effective governance of natural resources in Central America, South America, Africa and South East Asia.

The successful implementation of BRIDGE is based on the application of a strategic approach where demonstration, learning, dialogue, leadership and advice and support are fundamental elements to achieve effective water cooperation.

Strategic Process

The ELC as well supports the development of coherent policies, laws and institutions at the national level and agreements and other arrangements at the transboundary and regional level.

Current work

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targeting the access to water and sanitation as a main goal for the upcoming years, as well as the implementation of integrated water resources management at all levels of governance and the sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources are current processes supported by the ELC at different levels of governance. The implementation of projects aiming towards the strengthening of water capacities around the world is the response from the IUCN ELC to the development of water governance and environmental challenges around the world.

The aim of the IUCN ELC is to promote the construction of solid legal and institutional frameworks for water governance and to attain sustainable development.

Areas of Action

Based on the experiences from the implementation of water initiatives and looking at the existing and potential challenges and opportunities at the global level, the ELC addresses the following areas:

1. At the Regional and Transboundary Level

  • Identification and assessment of fresh and coastal waters lacking governance instruments
  • Development of tailored tools to strengthen regional water cooperation
  • Multilevel harmonization of frameworks for the conservation of fresh and coastal ecosystems

2.  At the National and Local Level

  • Performance of national legal assessments and consultations on legal preparedness to promote the integrity of fresh and coastal ecosystems
  • Determination of gaps and weaknesses for the coherent implementation of instruments for water cooperation
  • Multilevel harmonization of frameworks for the conservation of fresh and coastal ecosystems
  • Guidance on legal reform processes and integration of inclusive approaches on water legislations
  • Advice on the coherent establishment of specialized authorities for national water management
  • Legal assistance to promote, support and learn about the sustainable use of fresh and coastal ecosystems

For the implementation of projects, the ELC provides advice and support at the regional, transboundary and national levels through demonstration, learning, dialogue and leadership.

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