Water reforms in Brazil: opportunities and constraints

Antonio A R Ioris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The last decade saw repeated attempts to adopt and implement an integrated management of water in Brazil. Internationally established principles, such as water economics and public participation, have influenced the development of a novel regulatory framework for water use and conservation in the country. However, despite changes in policies and in the legislation, the opportunity to address old and new management problems has been largely frustrated by the internal contradictions of the ongoing institutional reforms. A case study of the Paraíba do Sul River Basin demonstrates the distance between, on one hand, calls for decentralisation and responsibility sharing and, on the other hand, the persistence of bureaucratised and exclusionary practices. The main distortion is the excessive effort expended on the introduction of water pricing and environmental charges, a controversial policy instrument that has dominated the agenda of the new river basin committee, at the expense of addressing river restoration, public mobilisation and environmental justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-832
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • water regulation
  • integrated water resource management (IWRM)
  • water charges
  • water pricing
  • public participation
  • Paraiba do Sul, Brazil


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