IWRA Webinar – N°26

Rights of the River – 5 December 2019

This webinar, focusing on Rights of the River engaged one of the most exciting developments in the field of water law and policy. The common theme explored at the webinar was “what rivers need”, and whether and how rights-based regimes can help fulfill these needs beyond the possibilities of existing traditional river basin management set-ups. This webinar built on the theme explored in the Special Issue of Water International (44, 6-7) on “From the law of the river toward the rights of the river?”

The panel looked at a number of case studies and how the rights to the river are being rolled out around the world. They explored examples in many regions where the rights to the river are being implemented, coming first in New Zealand but now in a number of other river basins as well. They also focused on the diverse factors that could contribute to the rights of the river, including the biological and hydrological aspects. Other panellists highlighted the potential and limitations for private property rights to be used and developed for the purpose of protecting rivers. Furthermore, it was pointed out the opportunities and chances for the custodian approach to protecting rivers. One panellist did an in-depth exploration of the rights of the river approach in New Zealand and better exploring the sometimes limited role of Indigenous people in the management of rivers, and the ways that these roles can vary depending on basins and frameworks. Finally, it was showcased the possibilities for the rights of nature to be applied to protecting rivers.

The poll conducted during the webinar asked who would be the biggest driver for the ongoing development for the rights of the river. The audience decided that broad global public opinion would be the largest factor, while local activists was the second most important.

With almost 75 attendees registered, the Rights of the River webinar was very popular, which featured: Anne de Vries-Stotijn, PhD Candidate, Tilburg Law School; Herman Kasper Gilissen, Assistant Professor, Utrecht University; Tineke Lambooy, Professor, Nyenrode Business University; Katie O’Bryan, Lecturer, Monash University; Cathy Suykens, Affiliated Researcher, Utrecht University; Marleen van Rijswick, Professor, Utrecht University; and Susanne Wuijts, Senior Researcher, National Institute for Public Health & the Environment. This event was moderated by Scott McKenzie, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia.

Presentations can be accessed by clicking on the titles below: