Introduction Competing access to water resources among sectors and regions has become a major socio-economic, environmental, and institutional problem in many arid and semiarid countries worldwide (Rosegrant et al. 2002; Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture 2007). Spain is the most arid country in Europe, and water issues as well as region-based rivalry for water are at the core of many public debates. Spain is at the crossroads of the waterabundant Europe and the arid Mediterranean basin. The agricultural sector in Spain is the largest water consumer, much likewise in other Mediterranean countries, and it is perceived as the main provoker of the nation’s water conflicts. At present, the water sector in Spain is facing the challenge to adapt to the new European water policies that rank high in the political agendas of European policy makers and the Spanish national and regional administrations. Yet, water policy in Europe is mainly quality-driven and ecosystem-oriented not always tailored to address water scarcity and drought problems in arid countries. The main drivers for the development of irrigated agriculture and water use in Spain are technological and scientific progress, market forces and policy-driven factors. Irrigation expansion has had unquestionable positive economic and social effects for many rural economies, but overuse of water has been the course of unwanted environmental impacts and degradation of aquatic ecosystems. Water use conflicts among sectors and regions initiated through the awakening of an environmental awareness in Spanish society and growing consciousness of region-based administrative and political willpower. The clash between irrigation-based food production and nature conservation is currently at the core of many widely voiced water conflicts at inter-and intrabasin scales. Water policies currently in force, as well as agricultural policies, call for further integrating ecological values and socio-economic welfare into water-management programs. Yet, balancing the trade-offs between water for food and water for nature is one of the major tasks that face policy makers, national and regional administration departments and all stakeholders involved (Vaux 2007) Focusing on the agricultural sector, this chapter analyzes the policy context that determines the use and management of water resources, both directly, such
as water policies, as well as indirectly, such as agricultural policies. Exploring the evolution of irrigated agriculture and water use in Spain, the main argument builds on the role that water policies and agricultural policies are playing to respond to the increasing societal demand for a more sustainable use of water without severely damaging food production and rural livelihoods. The chapter explores also the decisive role of public participation and stakeholder involvement in the process of implementation, adaptation, and integration of these two key policies in Spain. In the midst of increasing uncertainties related to food production, climate change, and societal pressures, this chapter addresses also to what extent it will be possible to achieve integration, coordination, and synergies between water and agricultural policies. In sum, the chapter explores the possibilities, in a regional perspective, of achieving a balanced trade-off between water for food and water for nature in the context of the EU Water Framework Directive and the Common Agricultural Policy. The chapter is divided into five sections. Following the introduction, the second section discusses the main drivers that have set off irrigation development and water use in Spain. We argue on the interactions of technological factors, market forces and policy drivers and their effects on irrigation dynamics and water use in the different regions in Spain. The third section presents an analytical view of water policies and agricultural policies. This section is the core of the chapter and takes into account European, national, and regional policies, their interactions, coordination, and synergies across different scales. This section also elaborates on how these policies, as well as market forces, water institutions, and bottom-up stakeholder participation, have inspired the downscaling adaptation process undertaken by the Spanish irrigation sector. The fourth section builds upon the precedent sections and presents some concluding reflections for balancing the trade-offs between water for food and water for nature. References are presented in the last section. The main themes that support the central discourse in this chapter are neither novel nor unique to Spain’s water policies. In fact, they appear pervasively across countries worldwide and were repeatedly recalled and discussed among the different sessions of the Sixth Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, held in Zaragoza, Spain, in July 2008. Various chapters in this book reflect many of these views as well and are illustrated by different examples in various world contexts. Some of the highlights of these views can be summarized as follows. The importance of designing and putting in force good water management practices for assuring a successful multifaceted water sector, was underlined by several authors. In particular, Margaret Catley-Carson stressed this view in a worldwide analysis of the temporal evolution of the water and food sectors. Similarly, Elias Fereres argued at a different spatial scale, on the importance of field-based water management practices. His detailed country-specific and cropspecific scientific research and empirical analysis reflects solidly the complex interactions between water management and the enhancement of crop water productivity that determine food production. Dr. Fereres’ views underline that
water productivity is a scientifically complex and challenging issue, that is best tackled from a multidisciplinary perspective. The second section of this chapter follows along this line in a more policy-oriented scope to argue that the interactions of technological, agronomic, economic, and institutional factors are the main drivers for irrigation and water development in Spain. Linking water technologies and water institutions, John Briscoe, Margaret Catley-Carson, and Helen Ingram argued that, within the world’s future perspectives for sustainable water use, water-related technologies are evolving steadily across countries and regions worldwide as institutions evolve at a much slower pace. As pointed out by Malin Falkenmark, Akisa Bahri, and Wendy Craik, based on different world examples, technical, institutional, and policy changes are crisis-driven. That is, the water sector evolves largely as a response to crisis-driven outcomes. Water scarcity situations, drought spells and floods, as well as other water-related extreme events, have triggered ad hoc water policies and have paved the way for developing technical and institutional advances. The role of water policies remains a central issue and, to a larger extent, the role of enforcing these policies. Policy enforcement is, in many regions worldwide, one of the drawbacks and difficulties of water policies that entail considerable social costs, as expressed by John Briscoe and Helen Ingram, among others. The third section of this chapter elaborates on this policy-relevant issue, illustrating how in Spain downscaling and enforcing EU water policies to region-specific settings involve non-negligible human and social costs. Uriel Safriel and Daniel Loucks underlined the importance of the scale and spatial dimensions of water as crucial factors for addressing water for life and for balancing water for people and nature. Along this line, Helen Ingram opened a deeper and novel pathway into the social, political and contextual dimensions of water governance. Dr. Ingram’s discussion, followed by the country-specific example of Margaret Wilder, emphasized how water institutions are crafted differently across diverse countries and regions, and their capacity for enforcing effectively water policies is largely a matter of good water governance. This is in turn dependent on context-specific settings, political discourse and societal needs. Hence, public participation and strong stakeholder involvement play a crucial role for enhancing credibility and legitimacy of water-related political decisions and for achieving good water governance and a successful water management. This chapter elaborates also on these issues, since public participation is one of the cornerstones of the river basin management plans required by EU Water Framework Directive.