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Many countries have reached a state where the quantity or quality of fresh water resources is imposing limits on present use of the resource and on economic development. Others are rapidly approaching a similar critical situation. All these countries face the common problem that existing policies and strategies, and the institutions to implement them, are inadequate to meet water use needs and sustainable development.
In response to the problem, and to meet the challenge of the future, UN organizations, the World Bank and national governments have joined forces to promote reviews of water policies. The World Bank policy paper Water Resources Management, published in 1993, provides a conceptual framework and stresses the importance of a holistic approach to water resources management. Specific guidelines for processes and methods for water policy reforms and the formulation of water resources strategies were suggested in the subsequent joint UNDP-World Bank technical paper A Guide to the Formulation of Water Resources Strategy, published in 1994, and in Reforming Water Resources Policy: A Guide to Methods, Processes and Practices, published by FAO in 1995.
In September 1994, The Sub-committee on Water Resources of the UN Administrative Committee for Coordination (ACC-SWR) requested UNDP, FAO and the World Bank to prepare a joint guide on water resources policy review and reform and on strategy formulation. These agencies merged their respective publications, and FAO organized an expert consultation in January 1995 to review the joint document. The expert consultation included representatives of several UN agencies, the World Bank and several selected countries.
The framework presented here incorporates the recommendations of the expert consultation and makes the case for a systematic water policy review in two stages:
Review and adaption of water policy, and
Formulation of strategies.
Recognizing that policies and their implementation are the prerogatives of national governments, the focus of this guide is the approach and the process for formulating strategies and implementing water sector policies.
It is the hope that this guide will assist countries in their effort to review national water policies and re-assess national institutional capacity to implement the required strategic reforms, with the objective of sustainable resource management and rational water use.
Land and Water Development Division,
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Division for Science,
Technology and Private Sector
United Nations Development Programme
Guy Le Moigne
Senior Adviser, Water Resources
The World Bank
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