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.



Foreword and acknowledgements

Many cities around the world are increasingly subject to water-related risks. Copenhagen and New York City were hit by floods in 2011 and 2012 with severe economic losses. Mexico City is challenged by serious aquifer contamination, while cities in California are in the midst of the worst drought in the state’s history. These crises are only a harbinger of things to come. Future crises will be exacerbated by economic, population, climate and urbanisation trends. Technical solutions to manage supply and demand exist and are generally well-known. Today, the key challenge is to align incentives and choose the relevant policy instruments to move from crisis response to adequate management and anticipation of water risks. This implies a critical role for robust public policies across levels of government and for shared responsibility among stakeholders as specified in the OECD Principles on Water Governance.


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