Beginning in 1990s, the importance and common safeguarding vision of water resources became recognised globally. A series of international conferences in water and environment took place, which emphasised water sector problems and a number of approached to overcome the identified issues. The concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) became formally established in the first three events and these were the Global Consultation on Safe Water and Sanitation for the 1990s, in New Delhi, 1990; the International Conference on Water and the Environment, Dublin 1992; and the United Nations Conference Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992 (IWA, 2002).
The fundamental principles for the concept of integrated water resources management were laid at the International Conference on Water and the Environment held in Dublin in year 1992. These Dublin principles were an attempt to concisely state the main issues and thrust of water management:
1. Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment;
2. Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels;
3. Women play a central part in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water;
4. Water has an economic value in all its competing uses, and should be recognised as an economic good.
These principles had significantly contributed to Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development which adopted in 1992 by United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro. The Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 was formulated and entitled ‘Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: Application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources’. The following programme areas are proposed for the freshwater sector:
Integrated water resources development and management;
Water resources assessment;
Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems;
Drinking-water supply and sanitation;
Water and sustainable urban development;
Water for sustainable food production and rural development;
Impacts of climate change on water resources.
Integrated Water Resources Mnagement(IWRM)Research Group
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia