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.



Urban water governance today – Setting the scene

Intensifying water competition across users (e.g. households, farmers, urban dwellers and industry); renewing ageing infrastructure, restoring the ecological status of water bodies; preserving ecosystems; and maintaining adequate access to, and quality of, drinking water and sanitation services, all require a dynamic analysis of who does what, at which level, how and with whom, to assess whether governance structures are wellequipped to deliver intended water policy outcomes. This chapter sets the scene and argues that some characteristics exogenous to the water sector, namely size, spatial patterns, demographic dynamics and metropolitan governance arrangements, can affect water management in cities.


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