Setting the Scene: European and Iberian Drought Planning and Management Context
The Water Framework Directive (WFD), published in 2000, set a new perspective for European water policy and management, considering a river basin level approach and the development of river basin management plans (RBMPs) to protect European water bodies. The WFD identifies the need to mitigate the effects of droughts, highlighting the possibility of complementing RBMPs through special programs and management plans to deal with specific water issues (e.g., drought management plans) (EC 2000). In compliance with the EU WFD, Spain and Portugal approved in 2016 the second (6 years) cycle of the RBMPs of most of their river basin districts (RBDs), namely the ones corresponding to (each country's part of) the shared transboundary RBDs (four—one with two rivers).
In 2007, a Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Water Scarcity and Drought (WS&D) framed a set of policy options to address and mitigate water scarcity and drought within the EU (EC 2007a). These options are aimed at the improvement of drought risk management, by fostering development of drought management plans, drought early warning systems, and a European drought observatory (EC 2007a; Estrela and Vargas 2012). Furthermore, according to EC (2007a), drought management plans (DMPs) should include (1) indicators and drought level thresholds, (2) measures to be taken accordingly to each drought level, and (3) a clear organizational framework for drought management (EC 2007b).
The two IP countries are aware of the importance of drought management and have been developing efforts to cope with drought issues in the WFD and EU drought policy context since 2005, when a severe drought event occurred. Drought planning and management in the IP depends on cooperation and interaction between Portugal and Spain, as the five shared river basins (Minho, Lima, Douro, Tejo, and Guadiana) correspond to 45 percent of IP territory, in what may be considered a singular case regarding transboundary management. The specificity of this case calls for joint river basin management agreements (Pulwarty and Maia 2015). That need is particularly significant for Portugal, since 64 percent of its territory corresponds to the shared river basins. In fact, the downstream location of Portuguese parts of the shared river basins makes the country extremely vulnerable to Spain's water uses, flow regimes, and sediment transport (Do О 2011; Lopez-Moreno et al. 2009; Pulwarty and Maia 2015). The bilateral cooperation on the shared river basins management is framed by the Albufeira Convention, signed in 1998 (DR 1999).