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Strengthening the Legitimacy of International Water Law to Improve Implementation and Compliance

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Particularly at the international level, where strong enforcement mechanisms are usually lacking, legitimacy is a key factor in explaining why states and other actors comply with their international legal obligations. However, little work has been done to examine and strengthen the legitimacy of international water law.   

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Effective institutional arrangement for sustainable water resource management

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The National Water Act fundamentally transformed water resources management. The Act provides for the establishment of new institutions, and the transformation of existing institutions, to assist the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to give effect to its core mandate – the development, protection, conservation and allocation of water resources, and regulation of water services and water use. One of the Act’s objectives is to progressively decentralise water resources management. An important motivation for this is to enable stakeholders to participate more effectively in the management of water resources. The NWA makes provision for the progressive establishment of Catchment Management Agencies (CMA) which are developmental in nature, and serve the interests of equity, corrective action and optimum use of water.

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Social learning in Brazilian watersheds

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Brazil has embedded the socio-ecological learning process in the participatory management of river basin councils through its “sister laws” on water and the environment. GITHIDRO or, Grupo Transdisciplinar de Pesquisas em Governança da Água e do Território/ Tecnologias Sociais para a Gestão da Água (TSGA) a transdisciplinary group of researchers at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, took these laws and developed new interpretations of socio-ecological learning. They incorporated an ethical component and a dynamic and complex program of participatory “cycles of learning” that brought committees and communities to a common understanding of socio-ecological processes, laws, and potential for collective action. Using resilience theory as a framework for understanding how to sustain and enhance adaptive capacity” (Folke et al 2002), this solution analyzes the processes of socio-ecological learning, including focus groups, physical dynamics that blend the conceptual with the physical, visioning, socio-ecological mapping, project planning and community celebrations through interviews, meeting notes, and written documents of the six case studies. The potential for socio-ecological learning as a tool for building the capacity of watershed basin committees to plan and implement projects is substantiated as an important tool for building the resilience of the combined system

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