A Necessary Organization for River Basin Management

A basic characteristic of the IWRM idea is to acknowledge the whole catchment as a management unit. This makes IWRM implementation very challenging because it requires the concurrent coordination between administrative units that stretch across the catchment. In this project, the local, provincial and central government as well as the water using sectors work together. The prevalent solution for this is the establishment of a river basin organisation.

A river basin organisation (RBO) is usually established as an umbrella organisation that maintains the bigger picture of water management issues in a catchment. A statement by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP 2014) reveals the global popularity of this policy “If Integrated River Basin Management is ‘the most appropriate tool’ to deliver IWRM at a basin scale, then river basin organisations are increasingly being promoted as the vehicle by which this tool should be implemented.”

River basin organisations: Balancing the interests of all actors

At an stakeholder workshop the lack of a catchment related organisation was discussed. Such an organisation would require a clear mandate and the trust of the different actors so that interests are balanced out and that the measures implemented retain the support of those actors.

Based on a Supreme Water Council resolution the first Iranian river basin organisation was established in 2014 for the Zayandeh Rud catchment. It is chaired by the Minister of Energy as the highest authority for water issues in the government, its other members are representatives of the national and provincial governments, sectoral departments and affected people. The RBO can also invite other relevant authorities, experts, associations, and entities to attend its sessions which are held every 3 months. According to the resolution the RBO Zayandeh Rud has the power to make decisions covering all water management issues in the catchment.

Successful negotiations: Including the external view

The RBO’s main aim is to improve and provide fair water distribution which is to be achieved through the involvement of the main stakeholders. It is supposed to be effectively established as the main decision-making body in the Zayandeh Rud catchment in the near future. Especially in its infancy it makes sense to look at other RBOs and adapt successful strategies for conflict resolution or their organisational structure.

Work Packages