It is often said that the current water crisis is mainly a crisis of governance, much more than a crisis of water shortage or water pollution per se. In the context of IWRM, governance is defined as the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place (or need to be in place) to develop and manage water resources and the delivery of water services, at different levels of society.
Water governance deals with the design and implementation of public policies for sustainable water investments and management that elicit the support of all sections of society – government at different levels, private sector, civil society, communities and different user groups.
While governance may be seen in narrow political and administrative terms as decision making by ‘the government’, good governance actually requires transparency of the institutions that handle policies, regulations, implementation and oversight, as well as participation by citizen groups in all these functions. Poor governance leads to increased political and social risks, institutional failure and lowered capacities to deliver. Therefore, good water governance requires clear legal frameworks, comprehensive water policies, enforceable regulations, institutions that work, smooth execution and citizen-based mechanisms of accountability, as well as their interconnections.
The principles for effective water governance require policies and actions that are coherent and integrative and institutions that are open and transparent (whether public sector entities or private concerns), such that their operations are neither hidden nor difficult to access by the public. Both policies and institutions need to be inclusive and communicative such that improved participation is the result at different levels. To be equitable and ethical, both men and women, various interest groups, stakeholders, users and consumers need to be part of the process through formalized channels, wherever possible.
In order to be responsive and sustainable, policies must deliver what is needed on the basis of demand, clear objectives, and evaluation of future impact and, where available, of past experience. Economic efficiency is called for, as are concepts of political, social and environmental efficiency, such that the most can be served with equity minimum wastage, appropriate costs and with the least damage to the environment. In terms of performance and operation, good governance requires that processes and operations are accountable to begin with: that is, roles in the legislative and executive processes need to be clear. Each institution in the process must explain and take responsibility for what it does. This is indeed a tall order, but can be accomplished by breaking down good governance into its components and being ready for change.
The bottom line is how the institutions dealing with policy, regulations, implementation, execution and oversight understand and deliver as per their roles, and the institutional capacities they need to be effective. The Tools in this Section deal with governance reforms, legislation, apex bodies, local authorities, river basin organizations, water utilities, and a range of other institutional arrangements down to communities that can deliver in the context of sustainable water management.
Copyright © 2012 Global Water Partnership
Copyright and Disclaimer
GWP Regional Websites
Your email address and name are required, and if you wish you may give the details of your organisation and country to allow us to identify information of interest for you for future newsletters.
You may of course unsubscribe at any time.