in: Environmental Science & Policy 75 (September), 28–37
The Water Framework Directive (EU WFD, 2000/60EC, European Commission, 2000) is a comprehensive tool for water management taking Europe’s diverse national and local policy contexts into account. This has positioned the EU WFD as a potential tool to enhance the implementation of the globally-promoted integrated water resources management concept (IWRM) in developing and transition countries that to date lack comparable regulations. Using the case of Mongolia, a country that has shown interest in using aspects of the EU WFD for implementing its IWRM concept, we will discuss the extent to which the EU WFD also provides a framework for IWRM outside Europe. We find that the EU WFD may provide guidance for the implementation of ecosystem-based River Basin Management (RBM) within an existing national IWRM concept, in terms of public participation and in terms of economic analysis. However, the application of concepts EU WFD is easier if strong political will, good monitoring capacities and a legislative backbone covering key IWRM principles and the capacity for enforcement are in place. Also, the EU-WFD does not provide guidance in terms of water-related issues that are e.g. addressing gender, poverty and capacity development. Thus, the EU WFD cannot serve as a blueprint, as it requires adaptation to the different socio-economic, cultural and political contexts of the implementing country and it does not inform all aspects of IWRM.