Water Governance in Cities

image of Water Governance in Cities

Urban, demographic and climate trends are increasingly exposing cities to risks of having too little, too much and too polluted water. Facing these challenges requires robust public policies and sound governance frameworks to co-ordinate across multiple scales, authorities, and policy domains. Building on a survey of 48 cities in OECD countries and emerging economies, the report analyses key factors affecting urban water governance, discusses trends in allocating roles and responsibilities across levels of government, and assesses multi-level governance gaps in urban water management. It provides a framework for mitigating territorial and institutional fragmentation and raising the profile of water in the broader sustainable development agenda, focusing in particular on the contribution of metropolitan governance, rural-urban partnerships and stakeholder engagement.


Executive summary

Too much, too little or too polluted: more and more, this characterises the key water challenges facing cities. Urban areas currently host about 50% of the global population, projected to reach over 60% by 2050. Over this same period, water demand will increase by 55% globally, and about 4 billion people will be living in water-stressed areas. This means that fierce competition across different categories of water users - particularly agriculture, energy and urban dwellers - is unavoidable. It also means that if nothing changes, water security will be increasingly threatened.


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