4.8 International Conference on Water and the Environment



4.8 International Conference on Water and the Environment

In 1992 the International Conference on Water and the Environment was held in Dublin, Ireland. The output from this conference was a declaration regarding water that was presented to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in Rio de Janeiro in June that year where the ideas from the 1987 UN Report (the Brundtland Report), were discussed and developed. The Rio conference, which came to be known as theEarth Summit, was attended by one-hundred-and-eighteen heads of government and was the major turning point in bringing the issues of sustainability and sustainable development onto the international political stage. The inclusion of the Dublin Principles in the conference debate helped to highlight the importance of water as a resource for environmental protection and human development. The Dublin Principles remain the standard for consideration of the issues surrounding water resource use and protection.  The principles are listed below:

Principle No. 1: Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment. Since water sustains life, effective management of water resources demands a holistic approach, linking social and economic development with protection of natural ecosystems. Effective management links land and water uses across the whole of a catchment area or ground water aquifer.

Principle No. 2: Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels.

participatory approach involves raising awareness of the importance of water among policy-makers and the general public. It means that decisions are taken at the lowest appropriate level, with full public consultation and involvement of users in the planning and implementation of water projects.

Principle No. 3: Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.  

pivotal role of women as providers and users of water and guardians of the living environment has seldom been reflected in institutional arrangements for the development and management of water resources. Acceptance and implementation of this principle requires positive policies to address women's specific needs and to equip and empower women to participate at all levels in water resources programmes, including decision-making and implementation, in ways defined by them.

No. 4: Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognised as an economic good.

this principle, it is vital to recognise first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognise the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.

of the International Conference on Water and the Environment, Dublin, Ireland, 26th-31st January 1992 available at the UN's World Meteorological Organization