new report: Global Water Governance in the 21st Century

New report by Pacific Institute

Global Water Governance in the 21st Century

Improving Water Governance is Critical to Addressing 21st Century Global Water Challenges

Published: July 24, 2013
Authors: Heather Cooley, Newsha Ajami, Mai-Lan Ha, Veena Srinivasan, Jason Morrison, Kristina Donnelly, Juliet Christian-Smith

Growing pressure on global water resources is having major impacts on our social, economic, and environmental well-being. But despite growing recognition that the world's water-related challenges extend beyond national and regional boundaries, there has been little-to-no discussion about global water governance that looks more holistically at shared water challenges. A new report from the Pacific Institute examines structures and approaches needed to meet the challenge of sustainable water management in an interconnected world.

"There is no single practice or policy that will ‘solve' all of our water challenges," said Heather Cooley, co-director of the Pacific Institute Water Program and lead author of the report. "But we need to take critical steps forward toward more efficient and effective structures and policies that promote a sustainable approach to global water governance."

Water governance processes facilitate interaction and dialog among key players, both formal and informal, for setting standards and objectives and for resolving disputes over water resources. The report Global Water Governance in the 21st Century identifies major concerns and offers recommendations for how water governance can be improved.

Key among the recommendations are:

-Securing a sustainable funding source and a stronger mandate for intergovernmental organizations to promote greater collaboration among organizations engaged in water governance.

-Adopting new standards, codes, and best practices for water resource development and management to promote greater transparency, participation, and accountability.

-Promoting capacity building and increasing participation in water management for local, regional, and national government entities and civil society groups.

-Developing financing mechanisms to support ongoing operation and maintenance costs of water-related infrastructure and the people and institutions needed to manage it effectively.

-Improving the flexibility of existing inter-basin agreements in response to changing social, economic, and climatic conditions - and improving understanding and communication of risk and uncertainty.

"Technology and infrastructure alone have not been sufficient to address water issues in a world where 780 million people still lack access to safe water," said Dr. Newsha Ajami, co-author of the report. "Addressing water crises has more to do with governance and with making sustainable and equitable water management a global priority."

The report also alludes to the relationship between globalization and virtual water flows:

from the report of Cooley et al.:
..."water has long ceased to be solely a local issue" (UN 2012). In particular, widespread water scarcity and lack of access to water supply and sanitation threaten socio-economic development and national security for countries around the world. Additionally, people around the world share and exchange water directly and indirectly through natural hydrological units and systems and through global trade, i.e., virtual water. Furthermore, climate change and the growing presence of multinational companies within the water sector play a role in globalizing water issues (Hoekstra 2006). ...

...globalization increases dependency on others for essential goods and increases vulnerability to external water scarcity (Hoekstra and Mekonnen 2012). ...

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