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International, European and National Water Law 2016 Science School

In June 2016 Craig Walton attended the International, European and National Water Law Summer School in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The school focused on international law relating to water, especially transboundary aquifers and surface waters. We examined the laws, conventions that eventually led to these laws and the principles of Water Law, as well as sustainability in International Water Law. Examples showed how international law can effect local situations. This was followed by the EU water adaptation strategy, as a good example of regional international cooperation and the 10-Step Water Management and Governance method employed by the EU. This was dealt with in detail and provided somewhat the core of the course as an effective and overarching situational management and analysis tool.

We also reviewed water as a basic human right vs. water as a resource, followed by the Dutch water law and system. This was helpful to see a world leading system in depth, with a lot a relevance to Australia (my home Country) and Germany. Following this, we applied what we learnt at the local level to our own specific governments, from the structure of the government, the hierarchy of control and responsibility and creation of laws.

For the school project, I continued a research started during GCE on Land Cover and Land Use Change. I quantified - with remote sensing techniques - the loss of wetland and surface water over a 15 year period in my hometown of Busselton, Western Australia. The loss of this wetland is tangible, and during the school I was able to analyze the current legal and management situation to ascertain a cause for the reduction of water in the wetlands and propose potential solutions within the current legal framework.

The course, despite a low number of participants (six, including myself) consisted of five full days of lectures, with the last half day of student presentations. We were sent pre-reading before the course and had lots of contact with the administration committee. As part of the course completion requirements, we needed to complete a small individual project, but the outcome of that project was unclear, as whether it had to be a report, presentation or both. The organization for the school was consistently like this, not poorly done but just quite complete. Despite the limited content input during the school and lack of practical approaches, working on my existing project gave a certain satisfaction to the school. Overall I didn't think I learnt too much new nor felt that it was worth the 500.- euros course cost. I wouldn't recommend it to future GCE students, as these issues are perhaps reflected in the low participation numbers throughout these schools.

Text: Craig Walton

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