River basin councils

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River basin councils are one type of a Water Councils.

While the River Basin Organizations (RBO) - a type of Water Councils - is the official organization (theoretically) in charge of water management, the River basin councils (RBC) is a body with broader stakeholder participation, whose task is to advice the RBO in their decisions.

The establishment of River Basin Councils (RBCs) is a key component of integrated water resources management (IWRM), which is considered as effective means to ensure fair, economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable water resources management and water services provision1. This institution provides required organizational basis for activity coordination on management of water resources, land resources, environmental protection, good quality of drinking water, participation of various stakeholders, public organizations dealing with quality of water bodies and etc.

However the actual and legal status of RBCs quite differs from country to country.

Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

Different RBC models

  1. A well-known example of water management is a French model. In France, each of six hydrographic river basins has its own River Basin Committee. It acts as a kind of a local water management parliament, which regulates water policy in terms of water use and protection with respect to river basin area. However, there is also another organization called Basin Agency, which is responsible for technical management of water objects and for execution of programs developed by the Committee. Thus, it may be said that the Committee in French model is a local representative and to some extent a legislative body specializing in water related issues and exercising its authorities within respective hydrographical basin.
  2. Another example is in Russia. There RBCs were established considering federal structure of the state. They play an important role in providing interaction and coordination of activity, regulation of interests at different levels such as of federal center, some sectors of economy and administrative units of federations located within river basin. On the other hand the Water Code of Russian Federation provides the possibility for involvement of water users representatives and public organizations in RBC. Also RBCs in Russia have a direct relation to the respective Basin Agreement signed between Ministry of Natural Resources and bodies of executive authorities of administrative units of RF located within water basin. Meanwhile the article 120 of the Water Code of the RF determines that River Basin Council is established within the framework of the Basin Agreement as the coordinative body for joint activity of entities aimed at restoration and protection of the particular water body. Thus, RBC is considerably concentrated on issues of inter-ministerial and inter-regional coordination of water related issues and is a body that ensures implementation of obligations taken by various entities as per the Basin Agreement.
  3. In Thailand the analogue to RBCs are Basin Committees which are just on the way of formation. However, it shall be noted that Basin Committees (BCs) have authorities for technical management over water bodies; thus, these BCs actually combine features of executive as well as representative authorities on water resources management.
  4. As for legal status of RBC in Kazakhstan (see attachment below), at first, one shall note that it is an advisory and consultative body. It means that RBC does not bear any authorities of command /power. It, for example, does not have a power to approve legislation documents (norms) or mandatory norms, issue any kind of permits (license), to conduct control and inspective activity, to dispose state property. The body basically intends to work out and adopt recommendations for parties of Basin Agreement. In many cases RBC may cover the range of members more widely than a Basin Agreement does; therefore its consultative and advisory functions are not limited to participants of Basin Agreement.

Methodological Guideline for Establishment of RBCs in Kazakhstan

Methodological Guidelines - Establishment of River Basin Councils


UNDP Kazakhstan

Consolidated Reply: Costa Rica / Comparative experiences / Design of Water Governance Programme

basin councils WHO-Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

Kazakhstan - National Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plan

Stakeholder Participation in River Basin Councils - Kazakhstan

River Basin Organizations

Water Councils

GWP Tool Box on IWRM

ARDI – Irrigation Water Management Assessment and Priorities for Iraq

Cap-Net:Capacity Building for Integrated Water Resources Management

External Resources


 River Basin Councils - A Mechanism for Instituting IWRM in Kazakhstan writeup TimHannan.pdf

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