Cover Image
close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart V: International organizations and inland seas
close this folder12. The role of international organizations in the integrated management of international water bodies: The activities of the UNU, UNEP, and the World Bank in the Middle East
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentInternational water bodies require integrated management
View the documentThe need for international efforts and a role for international organizations
View the documentThe UNU: Accomplishments to promote sound management of international waters
View the documentAssistance given by UNEP and the World Bank to the Aral Sea programme
View the documentProgramme for the Caspian Sea basin as an international effort
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences

Conclusions

Past experiences accumulated by the UNU, UNEP, and the World Bank have shown that the following aspects are essential in promoting the integrated management of international water bodies: collaboration among international organizations and donor agencies; and the involvement of the central decision-making mechanism.

Collaboration among international organizations and donor agencies

Although the importance of collaboration among various organizations, each with a different mandate, has been stressed, it has not always been realized in the past. For example, UNEP developed, between 1985 and 1987, the "Action Plan for the Environmentally Sound Management of the Common Zambezi River System" (David, 1988). The plenipotentiaries of the Zambezi River basin countries (ministries responsible mostly for water and/or environmental matters) signed the International Agreement on the Action Plan for the Environmentally Sound Management of the Common Zambezi River System in 1987 at Harare, Zimbabwe. The implementation of the Action Plan has nevertheless been very sluggish, because only a few donor agencies showed interest in the implementation of the Action Plan (Balek, 1992). As before, development activities in the Zambezi River basin have been conducted in an uncoordinated manner by riparian countries and donor agencies.

International organizations often stress the importance of coordination among basin countries. However, as a matter of fact, basin countries sharing an international water body usually have such mechanisms as a river basin authority or a lake basin commission for this purpose, and the remaining problem is how to make these institutional arrangements functional. Ironically, what is generally lacking is a mechanism that permits international organizations and donor agencies to coordinate their activities in a particular international basin.

One possible excuse for the lack of such a mechanism is that it is only the recipient country that is in a position to provide this mechanism - neither international organizations nor donor agencies are supposed to collaborate by themselves. However, if donor agencies assume that a basin country (in the developing world) lacks the capacity to manage its own water resources (and they provide it with various forms of aid), it would be very naive to presume that the same country would have the capacity to coordinate projects that would be provided by donor agencies. The lack of coordination may stem from the fact that (a) international organizations and donor agencies are themselves competing to support the "better" projects, (b) few of these organizations are willing to be coordinated by another donor agency, (c) little effort has been given to the establishment of a mechanism for coordination, and (d) neither international organizations nor donor agencies are keen to enhance the capability of the recipient country to coordinate aid operations. Thus, efforts are clearly needed to develop an appropriate mechanism so that development activities in an international basin could be coordinated both among basin countries and among international organizations and donor agencies.

The involvement of the central decision-making mechanism

Another essential factor in promoting integrated management of international water bodies is the involvement of the central decisionmaking mechanism in each basin country. The success of the World Bank in the Indus Water Treaty in getting the agreement of the riparian countries (though the Treaty did not aim at integrated management of the basin) can be attributed to the fact that the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan were involved in the process and consulted throughout the negotiation process. The impasse in the implementation of the Action Plan for the Zambezi River basin may stem from the fact that (a) only ministries in charge of environment in basin countries, which were responsible for UNEP related issues, participated in the development of the Action Plan, (b) other ministries working on development projects in the basin had little to do with the Action Plan, and (c) the commitment of the central decision-making mechanism in each basin country was not obtained for implementation of the Action Plan.

Implementation of the "Aral Sea Program," promoted by the World Bank, can be used as a prototype because (a) the Program was supported by the top decision makers of the basin countries, (b) efforts were made to coordinate the activities of other international organizations and donor agencies, and (c) ministries in charge of developing projects in the catchment actively participated in the formulation of the Program.