The OECD has been providing governments with policy guidance on water over the last 50 years. That guidance builds on thorough analyses of water-related challenges, reviews of policy responses and governance arrangements, and intense consultation through OECD bodies and in other fora.

The Recommendation of the OECD Council on water is a legal instrument that captures and updates the main messages that derive from such a unique experience with water policies and governance. It was co-produced as part of the OECD Horizontal Water Programme, by the Directorates for Environment, Financial and Enterprise Affairs, Public Governance, Trade and Agriculture, and the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities. This co-production reflects the cross-cutting nature of water issues and policies, the need to address trade-offs and to enhance coherence and co-ordination across policy areas and communities.

The Recommendation provides countries with a strategic approach to develop a coherent water management system that contributes to sustainable growth and development. It sets out high-level policy guidance for water resources management and the delivery of water services. It is structured in substantive sections on Water Policies, Managing Water Quantity, Improving Water Quality, Managing Water Risks and Disasters, Ensuring Good Water Governance, and Ensuring Sustainable Finance, Investment and Pricing for Water and Water Services.

The Recommendation is recognised as a source of inspiration for - national and subnational – governments, civil society and the private sector. Since its adoption, the OECD has collated good practices that can support its implementation. They are compiled in this Toolkit. The Toolkit 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 OECD Secretariat stands ready to work with countries, which aspire to adhere to the Recommendation. Adherence can build a momentum towards ambitious policy reforms. It can signal a political will to converge towards international good practices that support the achievement of ambitious water policy objectives.

Updates of the toolkit and guidance towards adherence to the Recommendation are available on the dedicated OECD webpage (

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