Assessment Instruments (C2)

In order to achieve water security for an area, decision makers need to not only understand the physical resource itself, but also its surroundings and the possible impacts that their management decisions have on those surroundings. For that reason, a good planning process should include social, environmental, economic, and risk assessments.

These assessments should take into account not only development options within the water sector itself but also scenarios for development and relations with other sectors that may have an impact on the water resources (e.g. water demand or water quality). Likewise, the consequences of water management decisions in other economic sectors (e.g. tourism or health) should be an integral part of the analyses made during the planning process. In other words water management has to be integrated with overall social, environmental and economic development.

It is important that this process includes an analysis of risks (climatic variations, as well as economic, political and other risks) and provides necessary and adequate measures to reduce or manage risks (C2.01). In this context, it is also important to identify the areas and population groups that might be most vulnerable to specific kinds of risk (C2.02) and to design and incorporate adequate protection measures.

In order to develop plans that take into account the different uses and needs in an area, the major water resources issues and potential conflicts need to be pinpointed in advance, their severity and social implications assessed. Social Assessment (C2.03) is a way to make sure that the planned measures or projects don’t have unintended negative consequences for certain population groups and to avoid opposition on the ground when implementing the plans.

Of course, humans are not the only ones who can be negatively affected by policy measures and projects. Riverine ecosystems that include river channels, floodplains, wetlands, estuaries, coastal zones and so forth provide a wide range of services to humans and to the environment and are also vulnerable to man-made change. Ecosystem Assessment (C2.04) is a tool that helps to understand the impacts that changes in the ecosystem have on human well-being.

Environmental Impact Assessment (C2.05) provides an effective integration of environmental considerations and public concerns into decision-making. It anticipates the environmental impacts of policy changes and new developments, and helps decision makers to better understand and plan for the trade-offs involved in certain projects by incorporating management or control measures into project and policy design.

Most governments pursue certain general objectives in terms of economic growth, income distribution/poverty alleviation, and proper management of natural resources. There may be some complementary factors in these objectives, but it is accepted that significant trade-offs are involved. Given the existing scarcities of financial and human resources, it is particularly relevant to conduct a sound Economic Assessment (C2.06) of projects and policies. This is an important means of making the allocation process more efficient.