• English
  • Deutsch
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon
YouTube icon
Header image Ecologic

Integrated Water and Land Management at the Regional SADC and EU Level

Integrated Water and Land Management at the Regional SADC and EU Level

The interconnectedness of water and land and the relevance of these resources for sustainable development have been well-documented; yet, both resources are still largely managed as isolated policy issues and only limited research focuses on the numerous links between them. Integrated policy, planning and management of water and land resources, however, can provide improved benefits and create innovative opportunities for regional economic development by contributing to ecosystem stability, sustainable livelihoods and food security. This project aimed to strengthen the bilateral collaboration between South Africa and Germany by developing a research working group investigating the relationship between land and water policies.

The relationship between land and water rights is politically, economically and culturally complex and this complexity is expected to increase with the progression of climate change. This challenge is bound to gain significance within the European context and even more so in various regions in Africa where communities are much more vulnerable to the profound impacts of climatic change.

The goals of this project were:

  • to provide for a sound basis to develop joint research initiatives targeted at improving the understanding of relevant issues in the area of land and water management and
  • to explore potential overlaps and possibilities for knowledge transfer between the EU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions.

The relevant questions within this context were:

  • What are the prevailing policies in these two regions in terms of promoting the linkage of water and land management policies, especially given the uncertainties created by climate change?
  • What are the actual and potential conflicts arising at this interface?
  • What are the prevailing governance structures in selected national as well as regional contexts in terms of providing incentives and guidance for addressing this complex management task?
  • How can the effective integration of water and land management policies contribute to sustainable development?

Ecologic Institute and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed a research agenda investigating land reform/reclamation in two Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. The variations in how land reform processes have been implemented in these countries as they pertain to the relationship between land and water rights were examined. At the regional level, a review of how regional policies have helped, hindered or not affected these processes also helped to better inform national implementation recommendations.

For the European context, a review was conducted exploring the linkages established over the past few years with regard to the main policy fields pertaining to water and land management issues within the context of the European Union (EU), such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD), Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) [pdf, 3,3 MB, English] and land use policies. In a second step, the mechanisms that are used to ensure the implementation of these policies at the member state level were explored. Two member states were analyzed in terms of the implication of EU policies for water and land use management issues in the specific national context.

Finally, policy recommendations were drawn based on a review of how the two regions have implemented land/water rights in the member states based on the lessons learned.

Essentially, this project aimed to conceptualize a multi-level analysis of policy implementation in two inter-connected policy fields. By developing a common framework for comparison, it was also possible to explore potential avenues for policy transfer and knowledge exchange between SADC and the EU. Moreover, the results also led to a better understanding of the multi-level dimensions and the integration of different environmental policy fields in the European and Southern African contexts.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research, International Bureau (BMBF IB), Germany
April 2010 to December 2012
Project ID
Water, Land, Management, Africa, Development, multi-level analysis, water framework directive, WFD, common agricultural policy, CAP, Southern African Development Community, SADC, exchange, Europe, Germany, South Africa, Africa