Green growth and alternative water allocation mechanisms

The need to reform water allocation, policies and mechanisms is becoming more and more pertinent to the policy-making agenda. Increasing demand for energy, competition over water, climate change and over-allocation of water have compelled governments to address this issue. Governments have different points of departure, however. During a two-day workshop on Water Allocation and Green Growth, 22–23 November 2012 in Wageningen, the Netherlands, almost 50 participants underlined the importance of raising awareness that water allocations are going to be reduced and to approach it in an organized way.



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Discussions focused on two main issues:

  • What is needed to achieve water allocation reforms?
  • What are the equity issues surrounding water allocation reforms?

Participants put forward the following considerations to be incorporated into water allocation reforms:

  • Increase knowledge about resource availability within sustainable limits at a specific time. Practical guidance on the ground to support water allocation decisions based on this information is also needed in order to make the bargaining game more transparent.
  • Introduce flexible allocation institutions, investments (based on real-option analyses) and mechanisms that can reallocate water when appropriate.
  • Consider economic trade-off analysis of several policy alternatives to support negotiations. Whether the agreed allocation is a good one is a perception.
  • Translate agreed allocations into regulations and procedures as well as into water allocation mechanisms (e.g. rationing, pricing, or markets). Responsibilities are then delegated and infrastructure is engineered.
  • Recognize that there are feedback loops. There is no unique right outcome, because there is not one objective function.

It was agreed that security of water availability is important. The water allocation process is a political bargaining process, which is guided by political objectives such as food self-sufficiency and equity. A number of transition barriers related to water allocation reforms were identified. For example, often the laws and institutions required for a reform are missing. It is also not known what users get back from giving up water in order to get more ecological/environmental flows.

The meeting was organized by the Government of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Netherlands Commission for UNESCO and the Netherlands National Committee IHP-HWRP (UNESCO’s & WMO’s water programmes), hosted by Wageningen UR as an input to the work of the OECD the coming years. Participants included: OECD, World Bank, SIWI, IIASA, IUCN, UNESCO, UNESCO-IHE, PBL, Melbourne University, Conservation International, UNW-DPAC, FutureWater, Deltares, European Commission, IVM-VU, BuZa, I&M, K-Water.



acrobat_icon Basic elements of Effective Water Resources Management, by Chris Perry

acrobat_icon IMAGE: tool for exploring the effects of water allocation and green growth strategies, by Willem Ligtvoet

acrobat_icon Macro-economic modeling of climate change and water scarcity, by Roy Brouwer

acrobat_icon Policy relevance for the Netherlands, by Niels Vlaanderen

acrobat_icon Preparing for an uncertain future through option analysis; the case of the Roode Vaart, by Gigi van Rhee

acrobat_icon Senegal River, by Tamsir Ndiaye

acrobat_icon The Water Blueprint, by Henriette Faergemann

acrobat_icon Water Allocation: A Participatory Approach?, by Mark Smith

acrobat_icon Water Allocation and Green Growth, by Maarten Gischler

acrobat_icon Allocation across New Waterscapes, by John Matthews

acrobat_icon Water Allocation and Investment Decisions in Water Infrastructure, by Diego Rodriguez

acrobat_icon Water Allocation in the Murray-Darling Basin, by Brian Davidson

acrobat_icon Water allocation policies and mechanisms, by Petra Hellegers

acrobat_icon Water and Green Growth in Korea, by Tae-Sun Shin

acrobat_icon Water Futures and Solutions: Developing a New Generation of Integrated World Water Scenarios, by David A. Wiberg

acrobat_icon Water Outlook 2050: Scenario Analysis to Support Decision Making in Water Allocation, by Peter Droogers

acrobat_icon Water trading: reducing or increasing demands for information?, by Josefina Maestu