Creating an Organisational Framework - Forms and functions (B1)

According to the Dublin Water Principles, (1) water resources are to be firmly brought under the State’s function of clarifying and maintaining a system of property rights, and (2) through the principle of participatory management, the State asserts the relevance of meaningful decentralization at the lowest appropriate level. In other words, regulatory and compliance powers have, on the one hand, the responsibility to establish policies and regulations in relation to physical water resources, but on the other hand, also need to articulate how the people and institutions are in fact managing these natural resources.

Regulation and enforcement of physical water resources may take different forms. Both water quantity and quality (as stressed in Tool B1.03, Monitoring and Evaluation Bodies) must be carefully taken into account. Ideally, water resource regulation should integrate water quantity and quality considerations, although this is difficult to achieve in practice. Therefore, water standards should share as much on water supply issues as on pollution problems. Regulation and implementation powers should also be aware that water does not only exist as a liquid but can also be present in solid and gas states. Along those lines, legal and compliance mechanisms need be developed in ways so that surface – and – ground water are equally comprised within the legal frameworks (A2).

Many different types of institutions take part in integrating water resources management, ranging from very large, trans-boundary or international entities to local and regional governments, much smaller civil society groups, and community organisations. However, at the same time many organisations whose primary function is not water management are responsible for sectors where the impact on water resources can be enormous – agriculture, industry, trade and energy are examples. In order for the regulation and compliance functions to be adequately performed, all of these actors, whether they have a direct or indirect connection to water, must be accounted for by the legislative frameworks (A2). This also stands for cross-sectoral entities that integrate and coordinate water institutions.

Regulatory and compliance bodies and functions guided by a range of principles. If the goal is for institutions to work and for the people to believe in them, then regulatory and compliance agencies need to: be transparent in their decision-making processes; engage and promote stakeholders’ involvement; show accountability and non-arbitrariness; and be open to internal or external demands for institutional upgrade and reform. One of the most important ideas behind these principles is that an institution cannot be the regulatory body for itself.

Regulation and compliance refers to at least three different steps. Firstly, there needs to be an Enabling Environment (Tools A) and part of that is to set up agencies that can effectively establish and enforce policies on water management (B1.01). Second, because enforcement is mostly location specific, and thus there is a need to precise what is the role of local-level authorities (B1.02). Third, the effectiveness of enforcement yet heavily depends on the information provided by Monitoring and Evaluation (B1.03) bodies. Knowing what regulations need to be enforced is one side of the coin insofar as, the other side, is rather about knowing where and to what extent rules are (or aren’t) being respected.