Natural Resources
     and Environment

News, Publications & Announcements - Water Resources

December 2007
Climate change causing species disappearance in mountain areas
Fresh water, animal and plant species threatened

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
November 2007
Paying farmers to protect the environment?Paying farmers to protect the environment?
FAO publishes The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
November 2007
Modern water rights - Theory and practice
FAO Legislative Study 92

Throughout history the fugitive nature of water has posed conceptual and practical challenges to lawmakers. The vital importance of water to human activity is such that most societies and cultures have sought to establish legal rules over its use and allocation. But its fluidity and constant renewal as part of the hydrologic cycle has necessarily limited the appropriateness of traditional legal approaches to natural resources such as the concept of ownership. Consequently in most jurisdictions legal rights to use water - water rights - have traditionally been linked to land tenure rights and in particular to land ownership rights. More specifically such rights have been conferred on the owners of land with direct physical access to a stream, river or other natural water source. Very often the only way to sell the right to use water was to sell the associated land right. Driven mainly by increased pressure on water resources, but also by other factors that are discussed in this paper, a number of countries have recently undertaken substantive water law reforms. In some places such reforms are part of a process that began a hundred or more years ago. Elsewhere they represent a radical re-ordering of the status quo. A ...

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October 2007
Groundwater in international law
Compilation of treaties and other legal instruments FAO Legislative Study 86

A joint publication of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Despite the social, economic, environmental and political importance of groundwater, international law has paid relatively little attention to this resource. Groundwater represents about ninety-seven percent of the fresh water resources available, excluding the water locked in the polar ice. It serves the basic needs of more than one-half of the world's population and it is often the only source of water in arid and semi-arid countries. Improvements in pumping technology and growth in industry, agriculture, and global population are leading to ever increasing levels of use of this resource, and to growing reliance on it. Largely as a result of these phenomena, groundwater resources and the social, economic and environmental systems dependent on them have, over the last fifty years, come under pressure from over-abstraction and pollution, seriously threatening their sustainability. International law has so far only rarely taken account of groundwater. While surface water treaties abound, groundwater is either nominally included in the scope of these instruments, mainly if it is "related" to surface waters, or it is not mentioned at all. Only few legal instruments ...

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September 2007
Modernizing irrigation management – the MASSCOTE approach
FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 63

The performance of many canal irrigation delivery systems is unsatisfactory in terms of: (i) water resources management; (ii) service to irrigated agriculture; and (iii) cost-effectiveness of infrastructure management. In recent years, participatory approaches and management transfer reforms have been promoted as part of the solution for more cost-effective and sustainable irrigation services. Large agency-managed systems have been turned over partially or completely to various types of management bodies. However, the results have usually been disappointing. Common findings have been: (i) the new management bodies are not up to the task; and (ii) these bodies have inherited dilapidated systems and severe financial constraints. This FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper presents a step-by-step methodology for water engineering professionals, managers and practitioners involved in the modernization of medium-scale to large-scale canal irrigation systems from the perspective of improving performance of conjunctive water supplies for multiple stakeholders. While the focus is on canal operation, the scope concerns the modernization of management. The approach consists of a series of steps for diagnosing performance and mapping the way forward in order to improve the service to users and the cost-effectiveness of canal operation techniques. This paper presents a proposed comprehensive methodology for analysing canal operation modernization, which is based ...

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