1. Introduction

The Toolkit for Water Policies and Governance (hereafter the “Toolkit”) compiles policies, governance arrangements and related tools that facilitate the design and implementation of water management practices in line with the OECD Council Recommendation on Water (OECD, 2016[1]). It is designed to inspire and support countries, which have either adhered to, are considering adhering to, or aim to converge towards the OECD standard.

The Recommendation of the OECD Council on Water [OECD/LEGAL/0434](hereafter the “Recommendation”) was adopted by the OECD Council in December 2016. The adoption marked the outcome of a 2-year consultation process. It involved delegates from ministries active in the fields of agriculture, development assistance, environment, public governance, regional development, and regulatory policy, as well as with relevant stakeholders (the business sector, trade unions, environmental organisations) and the OECD Water Governance Initiative.

The Recommendation puts forward a concise and coherent international standard providing high-level policy guidance on a range of topics relevant for water resources management and the delivery of water services: managing water quantity, improving water quality, managing water risks and disasters, ensuring good water governance as well as sustainable finance, investment and pricing for water services. Box 1.1 provides a description of the purpose and scope of the Recommendation. The Recommendation is available in English and French (OECD official languages) and in Portuguese and Spanish.

To date, all OECD members are Adherents to the Recommendation. Cabo Verde is the first non-OECD member country to adhere to the Recommendation. The adherence of other countries is pending.

The Toolkit provides tools and good practices in place, for each section of the Recommendation. It was developed as part of a reporting process for the OECD Council, referred to as “the Council” in subsequent chapters. Since the adoption of the Recommendation, the OECD has provided a platform to exchange policies, practices and lessons learned. The tools and good practices compiled derive from these exchanges. The Toolkit documents a wide range of initiatives and practices, which are well-aligned with the ambition and the substance of the Recommendation.

The outline of the Toolkit follows the substantive sections of the Recommendation, covering water policies (Section 2), managing water quantity (Section 3), improving water quality (Section 4), managing water risks and disasters (Section 5), ensuring good water governance (Section 6), as well as ensuring sustainable finance, investment and pricing for water and water services (Sections 7 and 8).


[3] OECD (2019), Pharmaceutical Residues in Freshwater: Hazards and Policy Responses, OECD Studies on Water, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/c936f42d-en.

[1] OECD (2016), OECD Legal Instrument: Recommendation of the Council on Water, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0434.

[2] OECD, FAO, IIASA (2020), Towards a G20 Action Plan on Water. Background note to the G20 Saudi Presidency.

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