The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Integrated Water Resources Management: Constraints and Opportunities with a Focus on the Ganges and the Brahmaputra River Basins

Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture for public examination and debate in Auditorium R1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 29th of May, 2009, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9875-4)   [2062 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9874-7)


The key aims of this thesis are to identify the constraints and opportunities of implementing the integrated water resources management (IWRM) concept at both the policy and field level. IWRM has been chosen as a focus of this study as all contemporary international conferences, summits, regional water policies and declarations promote the IWRM concept for the effective and efficient management of water resources.

The thesis has two parts. The first part reviews the evolution of the IWRM concept and the principles that have been developed at international conferences over the last three decades. Through two case studies on the EU Water Framework Directive (2000) and the Fourth World Water Forum's Ministerial Declaration (2006), an attempt is made to analyse the current implementation status of IWRM principles in practice. The findings suggest that existing policies tend to take a rather narrow view of the concept and have largely failed to incorporate the principles. This part also identifies the seven future challenges in implementing IWRM in practice.

Water resources management is multidimensional in nature. In transboundary river basins, implementing the IWRM concept is even more complex as it involves more than one sovereign nation sharing the same water. The second part of the thesis focuses on implementation of IWRM in the transboundary river basin context. This part provides in-depth analyses focusing on the integrated management of the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins that are shared by China, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. It identifies the various dimensions of water conflict among the riparian countries and their views on integrated management of the basins. It analyzes the existing bilateral treaties between the riparian countries and identifies the constraints and benefits of integrated water management along the basins. Practical recommendations for the integrated management of the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins are formulated. The findings suggest that it is imperative to coordinate all water related development plans and aspirations of riparian nations through effective transboundary cooperation to promote implementation of the IWRM concept in the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins. This thesis also identifies the principles associated with transboundary water resources management that are necessary to facilitate IWRM implementation in international river basins.

Water research and science play an important role in advancing the principles of IWRM and the implementation of the process. This thesis is an attempt to contribute to this process and facilitate integrated Ganges and Brahmaputra basins management.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 7 publications:

  1. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman and Olli Varis. 2005. Integrated water resources management: evolution, prospects and future challenges. Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy, volume 1, number 1, pages 15-21.
  2. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman, Olli Varis, and Tommi Kajander. 2004. EU Water Framework Directive vs. integrated water resources management: The seven mismatches. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 20, number 4, pages 565-575.
  3. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman and Olli Varis. 2008. The Mexico World Water Forum's Ministerial Declaration 2006: A dramatic policy shift? International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 24, number 1, pages 177-196.
  4. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman. 2009. Principles of international water law: creating effective transboundary water resources management. International Journal of Sustainable Society. In press. Accepted for publication on 10 November 2008. 17 pages.
  5. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman. 2009. Integrated Ganges basin management: conflict and hope for regional development. Water Policy, volume 11, number 2, pages 168-190.
  6. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman. 2009. Principles of transboundary water resources management and Ganges Treaties: An analysis. International Journal of Water Resources Development, volume 25, number 1, pages 159-173.
  7. Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman and Olli Varis. 2009. Integrated water management of the Brahmaputra basin: Perspectives and hope for regional development. Natural Resources Forum, volume 33, number 1, pages 60-75.

Keywords: integrated water resources management, principles, implementation, EU Water Framework Directive, World Water Forum, transboundary river basin, Ganges basin, Brahmaputra basin

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© 2009 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26