The perception that Brazil is blessed with abundant water has often led to complacency about the importance of a long-term strategy for water resource management. The conclusion was reached by the report on Water Resources Governance in Brazil, launched today (Sep. 2) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), prepared in partnership with the National Water Agency (ANA in the Portuguese acronym).
The study analyzes the governance and water allocation across the country and suggests paths to be followed, based on existing structures and policy instruments. According to the text, the multiple water resource plans at national, state, local and basin levels are "poorly coordinated and are not even put into practice, due to the lack of money or limited capacity for monitoring and implementing."
OECD criticizes the isolation of public agencies, which, according to the report, hinders policy coherence among water resource sectors: agriculture, energy, environmental licensing, sanitation and land use.
The document also criticizes the limited capacity to implement decisions taken by river basin committees. "In many cases, they play essentially an advocacy role, while in most OECD countries, their role is to build consensus on priorities and planning to guide decision making.” the report reads.
According to the organization, governance at different levels is particularly "critical" in Brazil, because water resource management is under the purview of 26 states and the Federal District, and rooted in over 200 river basin committees. For OECD, decentralized management is an adequate response to the country's differences in each region, but it is necessary that decisions on administrative levels are compatible and effective.
For OECD, Brazil can no longer be responsible for the management of water crisis, but rather for management of "risk", due to population and economic growth, and climate change.
"This [water] crisis which the country have been going through provokes society to place water resource management in a strategically broad higher level of debates. Many countries have gone through these changes and Brazil may take this step to improve management mechanisms", said OECD's deputy-director, Luiz de Mello.
According to the study, water resource management should be seen as a strategic priority with “broader” economic, social and environmental benefits for national policy. OECD suggests strengthening the power of national and state water resources councils, and enhancing cross-sector coordination between different government sectors for greater policy coherence and consistency, in addition to improving the financial and staff capacities of state-level institutions.
The document also recommends encouraging the adoption of pricing mechanisms, including charges for water use. This charge must be levied on companies that draw water from reservoirs and rivers, and not directly on consumers.
For ANA's president's, Vicente Andreo, the report is a strategic document. "Once we receive the final report, we'll deliberate to prevent it from being just a document, but an essential tool for organizing the work of ANA and its institutional partners," he noted.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta
Fonte: OECD: Perception of abundance leads to poor water management in Brazil