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1 – Introduction

Water resource management should preserve or enhance the environment’s buffering capacity to withstand unexpected stress or negative long-term trends. As the environment’s carrying capacity is put under increasing pressure, due to the growing needs of the population and improper use of its resources, environmental vulnerability increases too. In this context, mismanagement of water resources, paying only lip service to the environment, has led to water scarcity and water pollution which threaten security and the quality of human life. Giving proper regard to this unsustainable trend, the Second World Water Forum acknowledged the pivotal role that integrated water resource management plays in the process of sustainable development. The term “integrated” embraces the planning and management of water resources, both conventional and non-conventional, and of land. It takes account of social, economic and environmental factors and comprehends surface water, groundwater and the ecosystems through which they flow. Moreover, it recognizes the importance of water quality issues.

Integrated water resource management depends on co-operation and partnerships at all levels, from individual to governmental and non-governmental, national and international organizations sharing a common political, scientific and ethical commitment to the need for water security and for optimizing water resources use and planning. To achieve this goal, there is a need for coherent national, regional or interregional policies to overcome fragmentation, and for transparent and accountable institutions at all levels. To this end, targets should be established and suitable strategies should be devised to meet the challenges inherent in the sustainable use and

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