J16.4
The impact of drought on rivers in federal political systems

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Thursday, 27 January 2011: 11:45 AM
The impact of drought on rivers in federal political systems
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Jamie Pittock, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

The way in which societies manage drought is probably a strong indication of the way in which they will adapt to the even greater challenges of climate change. Drought also strips away much of the common rhetoric about water management revealing underlying cultural assumptions and institutional strengths and weaknesses. This paper will report on a project comparing drought management in southern Australia, South Africa, south-west USA, Spain and China. The river systems examined are subject to highly variable climates and have a long history of drought management. The paper will also report on a framework developed through this project designed to assess the quality of water governance in these regions with a particular focus on the impact of federal political systems. The capacity to manage large rivers that cross borders within federal systems is almost invariably at threat from ongoing intergovernmental and interagency conflict, low decision making transparency and accountability, high transaction costs and ad hoc deals between competing governments and between them and powerful stakeholders. The framework described in this presentation will concentrate on key outcomes and attempt to minimize cultural assumptions about how things should be done. Criteria include the capacity to manage across borders, respond expeditiously to crisis, base policy on good science, integrate planning and management with wider planning processes, negotiate compromises between competing interests, achieve compliance and adapt to emerging issues. The regions upon which the project is based are all in the midst of major water reform programs, albeit with different aims under different circumstances. The presentation will use the proposed auditing approach with its focus on outcomes to assess how they are progressing.