Multi-level governance and robust water allocation regimes needed to secure Brazil’s future water needs


2/9/2015 - The recent droughts in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states have exposed the need to shift from crisis management to effective risk governance of the country’s water resources, according to a new OECD report.


With 12 percent of the world’s freshwater resources, albeit unevenly distributed, Brazil is a water-rich country where hydropower accounts for 92% of renewables-based electricity.


But Water Resources Governance in Brazil says rising population, economic growth and climate change will increase demand for water in the years to come. Ensuring sufficient water supply for sustainable development is not just a question of hydrology, infrastructure and finance. It is also about who does what, at which scale, and how, says the OECD.


“Brazil has made significant progress over the last decades to improve the country’s governance and management of water resources,” said Luiz De Mello, OECD Deputy-Director for Public Governance and Territorial Development, launching the report in Brasilia. “Yet, governance and management of water resources have not fully reaped the expected economic, social and environmental benefits. Addressing the existing challenges is all the more important when future water availability and demand are increasingly uncertain.”


The report says challenges that need to be addressed include poor coordination across different levels of government, the mismatch between administrative boundaries and hydrological perimeters, and silos across ministries and public agencies which hamper policy coherence between water and agriculture, energy, environment, land use and sanitation. Challenges also derive from water allocation regimes that are out of step with current and future shifts in water availability and demand.


The ongoing preparation of the National Water Security Plan and the National Plan of Adaptation to Climate Change raise opportunities to strengthen Brazilian water institutions and policies. The initiatives should also ensure that water governance and management are integrated into a broader agenda of sustainable development and investment.


The report recommends that Brazil raise the profile of water resources as a strategic priority with broader economic, social and environmental benefits for national policy. A long-term vision is required to articulate more effectively federal and state level priorities and policy instruments, and drive investment decisions in the coming decades. The report also recommends sharing experience across states and basins through peer-to-peer dialogue and adopting effective pricing mechanisms. It is also important to foster transparency to build greater trust and risk awareness, the report adds.


For further information, journalists should contact the OECD Media Division (+33 1 4524 9700) or Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the OECD’s Water Governance Programme. Read more on OECD Programme on Water Governance


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